All photos from a trip made possible by contacting MRR readers.
Squat outside Utrecht. "Okupa Europa" means
"squat Europe." At the new Meinza Squat, in Berlin. Meinza was an entire city block, and when the police tried to shut it down there was a three-day siege that cost the city $3 million to fight.
Forte Prenestino, in Rome. This squatted ex-military barracks housed a record label, a bar, a restaurant, and was powered by the exercise room (a series of bikes that generated electricity). Squatted bar in Berlin near Meinza. The area also had squatted grocery stores and garages, all run on the barter system.
How great is
MRR? I grew up reading it in the 80s and I can see a lot of it in this magazine. Remember when Mykel Board said, "Rape is just physical assault, nothing more." Of course he was wrong, but who else was blowing people's minds with controversial ideas like that, in PC punk rock Berkeley no less?
Punks who grew up with MRR learned (and are learning) that, as Nickolodeon says, "YOU RULE!" It taught us (and still teaches us—can I mention here how hard it is to write this and juggle the past, present, and future tenses?) that London, DC, and New York were not special. London and New York had bored journalists on every corner looking for the next big thing. DC had a hundred rich senator's kids, each with their own dark room, waiting to capture HR's next stage dive with their fish-eye lens. That's why there's so much documentation on those scenes; There were so many documentarians. In Minor Threat's "Salad Days," Ian Mackaye calls the glorifying of the past "a goddamned lie," but if you didn't have MRR by your bed the song is more likely to make you wish you were into hardcore in DC back in 1983 when the song came out.
At first glance Tim Yo's magazine helped establish a pre-internet network of punks that could trade zines, tapes, videos, and T-shirts all over the world. You could (can) write to people on the letters page and make contacts all over Europe and then go visit them all, one by one, for free. Everyone knows everyone and everyone has the same records. When they came to town they would visit you and check out your scene
But this whole concept is bigger than punk. The amazing thing about this kind of culture is it goes against everything American pop culture is built on. We are taught that there are special people in the world. People that are better than us. Celebrities exist in every scene and we're supposed to think they're in the spotlight because they are exceptional. MRR taught us this is untrue. Not only did MRR teach us that the big names are not big because they deserve to be so, it taught us we too are not special. That it's not about people, it's about things. It was the first to "fuck da glitz and glamour" and it taught punks everywhere to stop pining for DC, NY, and London and enjoy their own party because, in the end, that's the only scene that matters. As a great punk philosopher once said, "Every punk considers his scene to be superior to his neighbor's—and every punk is right."
Click here for a 15-year-old comic about the trip the pictures are from.