The “Dudes” of Helltown
(Part I of III)
The town I grew up in is Manitowoc, WI, a.k.a. Helltown. Manitowoc had an amazing punk scene from the early 80’s all the way to the late 90’s. In the mid-eighties, I got into punk through skateboarding. Back then those two things went hand in hand. However, in the late 80’s another scene was about to integrate into the punk scene. It was when the metal scene went punk and brought in some of the most out of control, criminally insane, and violent people I had ever met.
I remember how the scene started to change. My buddy Richie and I were walking down the hall at school when another guy, one of the “Dudes”, (“dude” is what we called a metalhead that turned punk) came up to us and said:
“Hey what are you fuckers doing tonight?”
“Um, skating.” I replied.
“You guys wanna go to a party?”
Richie and I looked at each other, then at him and replied. “Fuck yeah, Dude.”
I walk into the Dude party and the first guy I see in the kitchen is a guy called KK. He had been locked up for most of his school years; I believe out of six years of school, I had seen him all of two weeks. The story goes that at the age of twelve, he found a shotgun in his mom’s closet, loaded it, and walked across the street to a gas station. Not wearing a mask, he proceeded to commit a strong armed robbery. He wasn’t after money, just all the booze and candy that they can fit into a bag. Without any regard for getting caught, the unmasked KK walked right back across the street to his house in full view of all the workers. To my knowledge it ended with a four hour standoff with police, who set off flash grenades and stormed the house only to find him passed out with the shotgun and booze laying next to him. As far as I know, this landed him in juvenile hall for the first time.
A different time KK spraypainted a ton of houses in one night and did about $60,000 worth of damage. I remember the art was amazing. Big pics of MDC art and all sorts of skulls on the sides of random people’s houses. The best part about it is that he signed his initials… so without any effort the cops were able to figure out who did it. This landed his ass back in jail. Let me tell one more short story about KK, and then we will go back to our regularly scheduled column…
A little later in life, KK decides to go out to eat at Ponderosa. Keep in mind he is out on parole and with his girlfriend. As he enters a restaurant, he is wearing a flight jacket with no shirt underneath. The hostess says that she can’t serve him because he’s not wearing a shirt. He zips up his jacket and demands to be served. The hostess says she doesn’t want to get in trouble, and asks him to please just put a shirt on, and she’d have no problem seating them. His answer “You’re gonna seat us now bitch or I’m going to stab you in the fucking face.” She tells him to leave or she will call the police. He reaches over the counter and grabs some rolled up silver wear that has a steak knife and fork, and hammers her in the face with it, stabbing her eight times. He flips out, holding customers at bay, until the cops came and took him away to prison once again for the millionth time. To put it lightly, this guy is one scary and severely fucked up individual. The stories on this dude’s crime sprees are limitless. Also to my knowledge he has more felony battery charges himself, than most of the biker gangs from our city.
Now back to the original story… I go to the party, and of course the first person I see is none other than KK (just my luck). Ironically, he looked kind of like Charles Manson at the time. Our introduction went like this:
“Who are you?” He said, looking me up and down.
“Um, I’m Bitty, nice to meet you dude.”
“I’m KK; we’re going to play a game, alright?”
“What game?” I asked.
“Punch, now punch me.” He demanded.
“No thanks dude, sounds like a game I might get hurt playing.” I said. (I was all of 105 pounds at the time)
“It’s easy.” KK said “You hit me as hard as you can, then I hit you.”
As I’m trying to tell him this is a bad idea and I don’t want to do it he says “Ok, I’ll go first” and punches me super hard in the breastbone. I flew back into the other room and felt like my ribs broke. I landed by one of my friends, Pete, who is about the toughest guy I know.
“Who the fuck did that?” Pete yelled.
KK, with a proud smile yelled back, “I did”.
Pete looked at KK asking him what his problem is and why he’s messing with me. KK responded, “I’ll do whatever the fuck I want.” Pete then ran into the kitchen, grabbed KK, picking him up off the ground by the throat, punched him and then smashed KK’s head through the wall. After Pete knocked KK senseless he walked back into the room I was in, picked me up and waited until I caught my breath and said “He won’t fuck with you again.”
As the party proceeded, some of the bigger guys started to pin some people down and force them to drink more beer then they can handle. I was one of these people. They grabbed me, held me down and were forcing beer down my throat. I couldn’t swallow the amounts that they were trying to pour so it was going on all over my face and I couldn’t breathe, so I have a pretty good idea of what it feels like to get waterboarded. As I was choking and gagging another bad ass friend of mine, Reno, came over, ripped the beer out of one of their hands and shoved the guys off of me. He told the entire room that if anyone else fucked with me that night, he was going to kick all their asses. Looking back at all this years later, it sure was nice to have friends like Pete and Reno.
….and that was my introduction to the Dudes.
Decay After Death
Up next: killer band watch…
Decay After Death is an amazing band out of the Chicago area that just blew me away. They are like a hybrid of Motorhead, old English crusty punk, and a ton of reverb. There is not a weak link among them. The bass player shreds and sings in this three piece. The bass lines are solid and all over the fret board…this dude knows his scales. The guitar player also sings and his axe has great tone. Every lead is in the right spot and there is just enough of everything without overdoing it. The drummer has solid chops and pulled it all in together. Things like this are what most bands are missing. I have had their demo in my cd player in my van and it hasn’t left there for about two months now. Fuckin…. killer.
On a lighter note…
Waterfall in Iceland
Ela (bass player in Wartorn and Dresden and my life partner) and I went to ICELAND in August and it was off the hook. I haven’t taken a vacation in about 10 years, so it was about time. As we landed, the Iron Maiden plane was just taking off… Bruce Dickinson and I never to seem to be on the same page with our schedules, but what’s a person to do. I’ve got to be honest, we were a little bummed since we would have liked to see Iron Maiden live again. Anyway, I would say being in Iceland is a lot like being on another planet.
We saw a giant humpback whale just 10 feet away from the boat we were in do a huge jump . I have never been next to such a giant animal. I also got to stand in the mouth of a volcano, saw water geysers, hot springs and a ton of other amazing things that all had to do with nature. We went to a glacier lagoon one of the days and everything was so blue it almost didn’t even seem real. Some of the glaciers were breaking apart and falling in the lagoon and
Shapechanger at the Saga Museum
it was extremely loud and epic to listen and watch. They had waterfalls there that looked like something out of a fantasy film. We also went to a couple of saga museums which I really enjoyed. It was crazy to even see the geothermal power plants that they had there. And I got to stand on two different tectonic plates at the same time…now where else can you do all of this in one week? If you ever have the chance to go to ICELAND do not miss out. I would give it 3 three thumbs up if I had a third one.
One of the bands I play in, WARTORN, is back at it, and we are writing an LP at this time. We will be going on a west coast tour next summer with RESIST… I can’t wait. We will also be having a discography come out on Profane Existence. Marald is currently working on the art for both. Marald was always one of my favorite artists. I remember holding the State of Fear LP and looking at the artwork for a long period of time studying it and thinking it was breathtaking.
Marald & Bitty
The other band I am a part of, DRESDEN, just finished up a 7 inch titled “Extinguish the Cross” and I’m totally happy with how it turned out. We recorded with Tom from IN DEFENCE and Brad of FROM ASHES RISE did the audio mastering, I’m extremely happy with the recording. The art, which was done by HUSH, is amazing and spot on. Profane will be putting it out and it should be out by February. Now DRESDEN is going to get all the music done and ready for our split LP that we are doing with HELLBASTARD. Until next time see you on the road.