For years Dirk and his various partners (notably Malloy, Miller and Klein) took the brunt of the frustrations of young people who couldn’t come to grips with the rules. Things like hours of operation, the end of a show, the price of entry, or the legal drinking age. I’ve seen Dirk take a few punches to the face in my day… but at the end of the night, he always got up on the stage and said “Get out!” It was tradition, and it was fun to spit at him, and throw stuff. He wasn’t the “pope of punk,” in my book, but he was definitely the grandfather of the San Francisco underground punk scene. For the 80’s babies, they may have missed out on Dirk as a presence in the clubs themeselves, a participant, and related to him more as a promoter… but in the 70’s and into the early 80’s he was present at the door, on the stage, in the pictures, and at the ready. He was not a nice man, but if you ever had the opportunity to speak with him he was fatherly, curt, and to the point.
He introduced me to Blondie, Devo, DOA, Black Flag, the Sleepers, Eye Protection, the Mutants, the Nuns, Negative Trend, the Dead Kennedys, Flipper, and so many bands I can’t really think of off the top of my head here… But I remeber Dirk well.
Once I lit my hand on fire at the On Broadway, it may have been the first or second show there, I was so fucked up I just sat there looking at it. Dirk ran over to me, poured water on my hand, put out the fire, got me some ice, and then made me go to the hospital. He actually took money out of his wallet and paid for the taxi.
A couple years before that I was making fun of three sailors who were hitting on Bambi in front of the Mab. I was sure they didn’t know that she was not what she seemed, and I thought that was funny. The sailors didn’t and they beat the shit out of me. Dirk, and randy were right there. They shooed away the squids, Randy pasted one of them in the face, and then ushered me into the club. First to the office and got me some ice, and then to the side of the stage where I sat and watched the Sleepers while my eye swelled up like a bruised peach.
I also saw Dirk take a tumble down the stairs at the On Broadway after Kris punched him in the face for trying to restore order to the club in the glory days of the out of control DMR posse. His glasses went up the stairs, and Dirk went down them.
The last time I saw Dirk was when he spoke for us as the San Francisco Late Night Coalition’s rally on the pier. He challenged us, the ravers, to do a better job than the punks had done. To understand what we were up against, and learn the law, and the rules so that no one could fuck with us. He didn’t actually swear, he spoke through his nose as always, and ofered sage advice.
When it was over I thought I’d say hello. Dirk winced at me as I approached him through the crowd when my DJ set was over, and I’d finished making my angry speech. “Oh for christ’s sake.” He said, as if I’d broken a glass in his kitchen while trying to wash the dishes. “I thought you were dead.”
I smiled at him, shook his hand and said,” I was.”
Goodnight Dirk. Thanks for everything.