The last time we left Joe Sib, co-founder of SideOneDummy Records, he was taking his spoken word California Calling show on the road, playing to bars and tiny, tiny, tiny clubs. Now that he's settled into his act a bit, the show has expanded to a grander scale, which has had the effect of making his larger-than-life stories really seem larger than life.
On October 7, 2010, Sib brought his show to the San Jose Improv comedy theatre. In contrast to the Hotel Utah, SF, where Joe performed in the Bay Area last, the Improv was decked out with lots of seats, a balcony, and even a Maitre d'!
While the show was similar to its previous incarnation, with Sib talking about his early years in punk rock, his parents' divorce and hanging out with Joey Ramone, the larger show allowed Sib to expand into more detail. For example, while lots of us tend to avoid talking about how we learned about "the beast with two backs," Sib nonchalantly details how he accidentally walked in on his dentist in the throes of passion with the dental assistant. He candidly pondered his parents' divorce with a small amount of humor, which made the painful experience seem all that much more painful. Also, there's a photo parade of '80s haircuts galore.
But, that's all soap opera stuff. What we want to know about is the punk rock! Because the show was in Sib's hometown (well, sort of) he gave shout-outs to first wave San Jose punk bands, many of which were in the audience. Sib detailed what the punk scene was like between San Francisco and L.A., describing the house shows, zines and legendary concerts of the mid-'80s. Also, Sib spent a great deal of time talking about the Winchester Skateboard park, detailing how it was intertwined with the era of hardcore. Interestingly, the more Sib elaborated, the more apparent it became how punk rock has changed in the modern day, for both the better and the worse.
The show concluded with Sib talking about his relationship with the Ramones. Because he was a friend of Joey Ramone, Sib paints an interesting portrait of Joey and Johnny that neither deifies nor trashes the icons. Rather, the Ramones are depicted as a complicated family that can't simply be compressed into the "militant one" and the "shy one." Fun fact: Joey Ramone gave Sib a salad bowl for his wedding because, as Joey put it, "Salad's cool, right?"
As punks, we try to avoid nostalgia at all costs. While Sib spends a great deal of time talking about the past, he skillfully creates both a tribute and history lesson rather than simply saying "Man, the '80s were great!" While the show has its yuks and punk praising, the show's greatest value is that it portrays the punk scene from the viewpoint of someone who was actually been there and moved forward, leather jacket intact.