Punks Around 3
The Story of Minot, North Dakota Punk 1989-2000
Joe Biel, Alexander Herbert (series editor)
The only reason I know where Minot, North Dakota is, is because I worked on the Amtrak Empire Builder, and Minot was one of our big stops. That's really all I've seen of city, that, and the Grand Hotel, where we stayed if we had to turn around at Minot, or if we were working a weird short trip they were trying during the summers, our busiest time. Generally, I have really good feelings towards the city, a place that always felt like a respite after slogging through the oil fields, battling my moral enemy, BNSF, for track time, but I also generally didn't think about it outside of that context. So that Minot had a punk scene was a surprise to me, and naturally I wanted to know more.
"...as a young person with diagnosed autism, I also fully understand the liberating power of finding a clubhouse of weirdos that accept you just as you are..." And, man, if that's not a vibe. Joe Biel talks about winding up in Minot, discovering a small but vibrant scene. The punks that ran the clubs and venues actively encouraged and conditioned its audience to be amazing, so that the touring bands would want to come back over and over again.
And that worked! Minot became one of the pillars of the punk world, and it was the attitude of the people in the city that brought the bands back. Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill loved the fans because they weren't interested in being cool or trying to impress one another. They were there for the music, and for the community. And that's what this zine comes back to again and again: the punks and weirdos of Minot had built a community, and built one out of necessity. When the nearest metropolitan area was eight hours away, what else are you going to do if you like art or had any sort of left of center beliefs? You build the community.
It's this community Joe Biel talks so lovingly of, a bunch of weirdos coming together to make something together. Adding this to my sense that a lot of cool shit happened in the 90s and I was too young (and too scared of the city) to go see it. But it also reinforces another idea I've come back to again and again: if you want a scene that doesn't exist, you have to make it yourself.
Cannot wait to read the second volume of this one.