Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Mod Male Blog Is One Year Old Today!

Well, whaddya know? Seems today is the ONE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY of the MOD MALE blog! Holy-moly! A year ago today, I decided to start flappin' my own gums about what I thought was so great (and not-so-great) about Mod stuff, starting with this post.

In honor of the 1-year anniversary, I'm having a little giveaway contest! If you want to skip this next boring story, just head straight to the bottom of this post. If you want to stay and read on, I decided to talk about what first got me into this whole Mod thing and why it's still such a big part of my life. To today I present to you... MY SECRET ORIGIN!

Let's get into the ol' time machine and head back to 1987... a horrible year in pop music, TV idols, and fashions. It was also my first year of junior high school and I was getting my first taste of acne. I hated 1987.

By the end of the 7th grade, I decided I just didn't share any of the same interests as my peers (see 1987 links above). My friend, Robert A., had already turned me on to The Smiths, the radness of Pretty in Pink's Ducky, and the coolness of pointed creepers. At this stage in my life, I wanted to be 'unique'. That's an important thing for a new teenager, wanting your own identity. And back then, liking a band like the Smiths really set you apart from the norm. So, I got full on into them and other assorted new wave acts. By the time I was in the 8th grade, I was walking around in black & white creepers and hair spiked up on one side. But even before then, on the last day of 7th grade, I read something that would end up seriously changing my life.

In our yearbook, if you had the money, you could buy a 'graffiti' square on a page and write whatever you wanted to write. Most people wrote messages to their best-frenz-forever or messages to their boyfriends/girlfriends about how they would be together 4-EVER. Well, these two 8th grade girls, who I remember walking around in black hair and 'new wave' stylings, bought a couple of squares and went in a different direction. Here is what they wrote:

'Mod'? I don't know what it meant, but it sounded cool and must have had something to do with all those bands I liked (with the exception of The Scorpions). The name floated around in my head, sounding mysteriously simple. Mod...

Later that summer, I was hanging out with a couple of cousins and they noticed my Smiths records in my room. One of them said, matter-of-factly, "We have a friend who likes The Smiths. Yeah, she's mod too." There was that word again. "Mod?" I asked. "Yeah, she's into all that weird music you like."

I remember looking through an issue of one of those Columbia Music House catalogs (remember, 12 records for the price of 1?) and in there was a section on all the new wave stuff I liked. You know what that section was called? 'Modern Rock.' Ah-hah! I figured it all out. 'Mod' was short for 'modern rock!' It totally made sense.

I couldn't wait for the 8th grade to start so I could share this info with my friends. They had to know that we weren't new wavers because new wave music was already old by 1987. No, now that music was called modern rock and we were mod because we liked it.

Further proof hit me at the beginning of the 8th grade when I was looking through my School is Hell book and noticed a comic dealing with the 81 Types of High School Students.

One of the 81 types of students was... The Mod. And he looked exactly like what I would expect one to look like (minus the duck-bill).

This discovery was extremely important to me. Not only did I have an identity separate from my peers (who were still listening to Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam), but, more importantly, I was into something that my dad and his generation were not a part of. See, when he wasn't talking about how great The Beatles, Bob Dylan, and 'The Sixties' were, he was always trying to school me on my own music: punk and new wave.

My dad was living in the Bay Area around this time and kept up with cool music. He had albums by the Sex Pistols, The Clash, and Elvis Costello. He was aware of bands like the Meat Puppets, The Smiths, and Flock of Seagulls. And he used to rub it in my face that he knew my music more than I did! In the 7th grade, when I told him I liked Echo & The Bunnymen because of their song 'People Are Strange' off the Lost Boys soundtrack, you know what he did? He made me a cassette tape of the Lips Like Sugar album and included the original Doors' version of 'People Are Strange'. Not only did he know my music more... he knew the original stuff being copied! And this drove me crazy. He was always one up on me.

But now... I was one up on him. I was mod.  And this was such a new thing, there was no way he'd be in the know about it. Finally, I had my own thing. Well, one day while visiting him in Berkeley, he and I were walking back from a day on Telegraph Avenue. I had a little skip in my step as I listened to him go on about Bob Dylan and the Beatles before trying to talk to me about my own music. I lured him into trying to act cool with me so that I could get him with a gotcha question. And then I went for it.

"Oh yeah? You think you're so cool, Papa? Man... I bet you don't even know what a mod is."

He looked down at me in surprise and paused.

"Oh yeah, kid... okay, tell me. What's a mod?" I had him!

I told him all about how new wave just wasn't new anymore and how it was now called 'modern rock' and how kids that were into that music were called 'mod' because it was short for 'modern rock'. I smiled knowing I had just widened that generation gap.

Then he responded, "Really, kid? That's what you think a mod is? Interesting..."

I looked up at him, "What do you mean? That's totally what a mod is!"

He sighed... "Kid, let me tell you what a mod really is." This conversation wasn't going like I planned. But then he gave an explanation that still resonates with me to this day.

"Kid, mods were around in the sixties. They were young guys, teenagers, who rebelled against the society they were living in through the types of suits they wore. You know how punks dressed shabby in torn-up clothing? Well, mods wore really nice suits with thin lapels and skinny ties. They wore army jackets called parkas to protect their clothes and rode around on Vespas, italian scooters. And they used to get into fights with Rockers."

His statement about rebelling against society by wearing nice suits hit my 13-year-old mind hard. I was used to seeing people dress outlandish in order to be somewhat 'unique.' But my dad just turned me on to a wild idea of dressing nice as an act of rebellion. I pictured myself in a suit with 'thin lapels' and a 'skinny tie' and walking through a crowd of kids in bad mullets, baggy pants, and Reebok hi-tops. I was utterly fascinated...

...until he said, "The Who were a mod band." It was like a record needle scratching across my mind. The Who? The band I read about in the Guinness Book of World Records as being the loudest ROCK band in the world? The band that looked like this?

At that, he turned me off. No way were those guys 'mod'. When we got back to his place, he started pulling records out. He wanted to show me a photo of them as mods. The photo he showed me did NOT win me over.

All I saw was a geeky guy with a big nose in too-crazy-and-colorful-for-my-thirteen-year-old-mind clothes. I didn't buy these guys as anything having to do with what I thought mod was, but I was still interested in the concept of this subculture of kids walking around in suits as a way of snubbing the society around them.

The 8th grade went on for me and I delved further into all the music KROQ was playing at the time. And despite my dad thinking The Who were a mod band, I still asked him about what sixties mods were like. He would talk to me about Dick Hebdige's Subculture book and would go on and on about how mods were 'working-class' kids. I loved hearing about them. And even though mods only existed in the 1960s, I still pictured them being into stuff like Echo & The Bunnymen.

One day, I was hanging out with one of my uncles. I sat on his bed relaxing while he was playing me various songs from the sixties, something he used to love doing. I endured it, even though I didn't really care for The Byrds, The Beach Boys, or any of the other bands he made me sit through. Then he told me, "Okay, I'm going to play you a song but I don't want to tell you who it is. Just listen and let me know what you think." "Oh geez," I thought. "Here we go with more..."

The song he played me was unlike anything he ever played me before. It was loud, manic, and totally punk rock! I looked at him in surprise. "You like this kind of music?" I asked. He just smiled. Yeah, you know what song he played me, don't you?

When it was done, I asked him who it was. "That's The Who?!" was my response when he told me. And that's the song that completely sold me. From that point forward, I wanted more than anything to be a mod. I wanted to be the only mod at my school, maybe even the world.

Later that year, I learned about the Jam from another student who claimed his brother used to be a mod. The Jam led me to the Mod revival, which jived more with the music I was into at the time. Plus, it made me realize that there were mods after the 1960s. By the beginning of high school, I was getting into ska music, which would sidetrack me for a bit. Eventually, though, I'd finally get my first suit and, in time, my first parka. Sure, over time, I'd make several mistakes while slowly morphing from new wave kid to mod kid, but I learned from them and hopefully improved as I got older (open to debate).

Soon, I discovered that there were Mod scenes happening all around, from Berkeley to Los Angeles to other parts of the world! Looking back, it's funny to me that on that walk with my dad in 1987, when he first told me what a mod actually was, there was a whole rocking Berkeley Mod scene going on around me. And as I sat in my bedroom in La Puente, CA, thinking about being the only mod around, my future wife was blocks away already part of a Mod scene.

This whole Mod thing has been a huge guiding force in my life. It's turned me on to great music, great clothes that I still obsess over, and even great design. I've met amazing people through it who have become life-long friends and have helped me become a better person over time (open to debate). Through the Mod thing, I've met the most amazing woman who continues to tolerate my behavior, even though we still fight over closet space. And each day, I still find something about this subculture to get excited over.

Thank you all for sticking with this blog over this past year and I hope it hasn't bored you yet.

Okay, in honor of the 1st year of the MOD MALE blog, I'm having a little give-away thing. What can you win?

The 2011 book, The Perfectly Dressed Gentlemen by Robert O'Byrne!

A great little guide on how to be an even more dapper Mod (or gentleman, in general), with illustrations by the talented Lord Dunsby. You can read more about it on the Retro To Go blog. Please keep in mind that this contest is not affiliated with any of these people. I just happen to have an extra copy and would like to give it to a Mod Male blog reader.

Here's all you have to do:
  1. Become a follower of this blog, if you're not already, and leave a comment on the blog telling me how you got into the Mod thing OR how you got into whatever it is you're obsessed with (i.e., goth music, a baseball team, your favorite author). Doesn't have to be Mod-related.

  2. 'Like' the MOD MALE Facebook page and leave a comment on the page, telling me how you got into the Mod thing OR how you got into whatever it is you're obsessed with (i.e., goth music, a baseball team, your favorite author). Doesn't have to be Mod-related.
Contest will end next two weeks from today, on August 9 at 6:00pm PST. That evening, I'll put all the names in a bowl and pick a name at random. (And if you 'share' the Mod Male status update for this post on Facebook or share it on Twitter (@modmale), I'll add your name TWICE to the bowl!

On Friday, August 10th, I'll announce the winner on this very blog! That's right, this contest will last two weeks only! GOOD LUCK!!


  1. HAPPY BLOG-IVERSARY!!! How did time go by so quickly? I admire your dedication to this always awesome endeavor!!!

    And this story is GENIUS. I think you should do an anthology of how everyone you know got into it. It's an important sociological endeavor!

    As far as mine... it's cringe-worthy stupid. I was SUPER new wave, but had older sisters who were teenagers in the late 60's and 70's who turned me on to all that 60's music, and taught me to go go dance to Fontella Bass. I would obsess over my dad's Time-Life book about the 60's, and thought Twiggy was amazing. And I liked the ska thing. And one summer I went to KNOTT'S BERRY FARM and saw all the well-dressed sharp kids, and HOW CUTE THE BOYS WERE and I put 2 and 2 together -- those were MODS! And that's what I wanted to be because they were SO COOL. I announced to my best friend, in the car back to the hotel from CLOUD 9 (the cheesy dance club at Knott's Berry Farm) "I'm totally going mod." And I did. And badly. But man, it's been a lifetime of fun, especially since y'all have always sort of accepted me as a poseur.

    Thanks, CP! You're the best mod EVER!

    1. I always love your story! And please... if you're a poseur, then I'm a No Doubt fan!

      You're the best Mod Karen EVER!

  2. I said it once, I'll said it again. We have so many things in common it's scary. It's an absolute honor and pleasure to share this small niche of the blogosphere with you. I enjoy reading every word you publish.

    Happy 1 year anniversary! You deserve every accolade thrown at you. I just wish you didn't live so far because I suspect we would have many long conversations over beverages of some kind.

    I'm not in the habit of plugging my own blog in someone else's comment section but since you asked... Here's the tale of how I got into "The Scene". Plus, it happens to be my first blog post!

    And I thought you might enjoy the story behind my first suit.

    Long life to your blog my friend!

    1. Patrick, I actually meant to write in there for people to post links to blog posts about the subject, so plug away! I'm off to read it in a bit, myself.

      Thank you for your immense encouragement over this past year. My next goal for this next year is to hit a subject you haven't touched upon yet!

    2. Thanks brother!

      We could say that we represent the epitome of healthy competition. Rock on!

  3. Fabulous post. I love reading honestly written things like this - your mod route was different from most I've heard.

    Happy birthday! Keep on keeping on.

    1. Thank you, my man, and please keep up your great reviews and writings. You've become a great source for new records/books to hunt down!

  4. Happy anniversary!! I am so happy to know you, and I LOVED the story above. My evolution: NKOTB --> Bell, Biv, Devoe (know you know) --> Violent Femmes and KROQ --> rude girl/SKA --> rude girl/wanna-be mod --> dumpy/nerdy med student --> dumpy/nerdy mom. haha!! Miss seeing you and Irene. xxoo

    1. Kat... NKOTB? The next time we're together, I'm going to INSIST you bring photos of you in your acid-wash Levis jacket with the NKOTB patches all over it! I know you must have had one!

      And puh-leeze... you're far from nerdy and on a whole different continent away from dumpy!

  5. Been really enjoying your blog …Happy Blog Anniversary!

    Coincidentally, Berkeley played a role at the start of my interest in vintage clothing from the 50s and 60s. I too was in junior high and it must have been around 1990 when my friend’s dad took us to Telegraph for the first time and I bought my first piece of vintage clothing at what I think was Wasteland back then (now Mars). It opened up a whole new world for clothing and fashion to me that I did not know existed. Thank goodness for that! After succumbing for a bit to those horrible styles that were 1990 junior high fashion, I rebelled in striped tights and Morrissey shirts :-)

    1. Thank you, Elisa! Oh man, you were in Berkeley at that time? We were just on the street over the weekend. It's changed so much, I'm sad.

      Remember all those great shops at that time: Wasteland, Sharks, Buffalo Exchange (when it was still cool), the two Rasputins across the street from each other.

      (And I was a victim of bad junior high fashion too... I had a pair of acid-wash, baggyish Bugle Boy pants. Even at that time, though, I HATED them. But they were all I could find at the mall.)

    2. Sharks! I loved that place! I still have a black and white photo my husband did of one of the mannequins in there when we were in highschool. Haven't been to Telegraph in ages. Makes me sad too that it has changed so much :(

  6. Such a great, honestly written post. The graffitti square with 'Missing Persons' takes me back!

    I grew up in the Bay Area (mostly Marin County to be precise), and went through pretty similar experiences to you, only a couple of years earlier.I liked EVERYTHING, from the Sex Pistols to Flock of Seagulls, Culture Club to the Specials. To me, if it was from England, it was cool, and I didn't understand te difference between pop acts and 'serious' acts. (Nowadays, I don't care!) But all of it got me into secondhand clothes, history, exploring other cultures, and not being afraid to be different. I remember having to cultivate nerves of steel in order to walk around my local neighbourhood with spiky hair and creepers. And I was lucky to have an English dad and an arty Mum - they even took me and my 14 year old friends to a double bill of Quadrophenia and Dance Craze in Berkeley in 1985, which they thoroughly enjoyed!

    I look back on those years fondly, and even though I still go out, and spend a lot of time with people much younger than myself, I miss the way that you had to work really hard to be creative back then. You couldn't just Google 'mod' and have it all explained!

    1. Nicole, things are SO different now thanks to Google, Wikipedia, etc. I hate to sound like an old man, but when you had to work towards learning about whatever, it was that much more special I think. It was like discovering little puzzle pieces over time and I loved it.

      And, like you, I was super nervous when I first wore my creepers. In fact, that whole first morning when I wore them, all the kids were making fun of me. One kid recommended I leave them in my locker after gym class and wear my sneakers for the rest of the day. Other kids were pointing at them, snickering, in class. Then, at lunch, my skater friends saw them and started complimenting them!

  7. Congratulations on the first of many years!

  8. the IE Mod

    My path to mod was a journey of many steps, starting in the actual 60s (dare I date myself). I grew up with a young mom and a couple of groovy aunts with good taste in music and hippy boyfriends. Also oddly when my grandmother would take me to get a haircut, she would request that the barber cut it "like the little english boys", fortunately for me, this particulate barber interpreted that as "mop top". This style went over well at Lincoln elementary school, but was cut short (literally) by my ex-Marine dad and a pair of electric clippers.

    Around this time in my life I received my first pier of desert boots, and it became clear to me that I had an opinion on what I wanted to wear.

    Cut to about 8 years in the future, I'm in high school. My love for the 60s hasn't gone away, but a new love looms, modern music. In my small town (Redlands, CA) there weren't enough weird kids to factionalize ourselves and it was not uncommon to adjust ones aesthetic to whatever party you were attending that night. I liked the punk movement a lot, but I also liked the sound and look of groups like the Jam and the Specials. I still had not been exposed to any real mod scene though, even the midnight showing of Quadraphenia didn't seem to attract anyone with that look. I bought a parka at the local swap meet for $12.

    Then I tagged along to an anti-nuke rally in LA, (I'd heard they were going to have bands) I was in Clash/punk/reggae/revolutionary mode. Pulling up to the place, I saw them, a small group in suits, some sitting on scooters… too cool for words. One of the bands that played was the Untouchables. I had to have a Vespa!

    I started searching, there was a dealer in San Bernardino, a cranky old ex desert racer named Doug Douglass who also sold Triumphs and Maicos, they had two Vespas and some different looking scooters called Lambrettas. They wanted $1200 bucks for em, more than I had, so I kept looking. Then I found it, a Sears Allstate Sprint, $300 with only 3000 miles on the clock. I took it home and taught myself how to ride it that day. Rode all the way up into the mountains, I was hooked.

    That was it, the pieces came together and caused an explosion. Thrift stores were full of great clothes for next to nothing, you could have a new outfit every weekend for under $5 and that's what I did. There were shows to go to as well, and more mods! Seeing another kindred spirit was magical then, you'd meet someone at the thrift store, and five minutes later you's be invited to a party at their house. It snowballed all the time, my friends started buying scooters and we decked em out with every accessory we could find. Every payday meant a trip to Scooterville or Newport Vespa, and then that night real mod shows at places like the Lhasa club, Circle City club and Fender's ballroom. Fun times indeed.

    1. I totally remember that feeling of meeting other people into what you were into, especially when you thought you might be the only one or one of a few! It used to be exciting seeing someone at a mall in a flight jacket with patches or whatever. I miss those days and wonder if people still get that feeling today, what with the internet and all. Awesome story!

  9. Hello,
    Regular reader, first time writer. I grew up in Berkeley wearing my cousin's hand-me-downs (pink and purple plaid polyester pants) and my grandmother's hand knit, itchy sweaters. Ostracized, and rightly so, I became a KABL music (muzak) junkie and wandered about Berkeley, aimless and friendless, until stumbling into Stop the Clock and meeting Cindy. She (or Karen, Marsha, Aricka...) dressed me for over 20 years making me everything I was and am.
    Thanks for letting me thank,

    1. Thank you for bringing up Stop the Clock! I was thinking about this yesterday and I need to work up a post on all those great vintage shops of yesteryear, especially Stop the Clock!

  10. Congrats on 1 year, Carlos!

    I started out as you did as well - "new wave." I had an older brother who was a "Mod/Rude Boy" in the early 80s and got heavily influenced from him as junior high rolled on. I fell in love with The Jam and wanted to emulate Paul Weller so bad in 8th grade, but I have wavy hair and couldn't get that hair, so I just cut my hair like I did when I was 6 years old - a crew cut. I went to Catholic School so we all wore uniforms, but in 8th grade I started wearing band buttons on my school sweater and on "free dress" days I came all decked out one day in blue slacks, grey Hush Puppies, colorful socks, and a V-neck sweater. I was made fun of all day by the "Chach" (disco kids). Even a couple of my "new wave" friends sort of gave me a weird look. I guess I didn't fit the "uniform" of being "alternative." It was a hellish day for this 8th grader. I also loved the Smiths and it was really true that if you liked them in 1985-86-87 you really did stand out of the crowd of "regular" new wavers who liked Depeche Mode and The Cure. In 9th grade I pronounced myself a "mod" and started dressing so. I got into some 70s revival bands, but my heart wasn't into the sounds. I liked the 60s stuff so much better, but felt like I HAD to like the 70s stuff too. I didn't know anyone else who was "mod" in Pico Rivera, CA during the summer and fall of 1987, so I sort of went with what I thought I knew and what I was told by my older brother and the zines and magazines at Middle Earth Records in Downey. There was a scooter rally in 1988 that I went to in Whittier with my brother and heard my first "garage" band at the rally. I think it was The Witchdoctors or could have been The Gallows... I was hooked. The summer before 10th grade my friend at Middle Earth Records suggested I buy "Back From the Grave Vol. 2" and "After School Sessions" by The Milkshakes since they were on sale that day. I did and went home and put them on. I was floored!! I immediately went back the next day and bought whatever Milkshakes LPs and Back From the Grave volumes they had left. I then discovered the world of 60s "garage punk" and I was home... I still dressed like a mod for the remainder of high school, but never really considered myself a mod anymore because I didn't really like Revival stuff very much, Northern Soul, or stuff that other mods liked, but I looked liked one... I didn't really fit into any "clique" because there wasn't anyone else that liked what I liked (or so I thought) until I met a couple of liked-minded people at a record swap who turned me onto The Mummies, The Phantom Surfers, Satan's Cheerleaders, etc. The rest is history... but I forget now why I wrote this long ass comment... CONGRATS CARLOS!

    1. Thanks RBH and not long at all... really!

      Funny how we share a lot of that same history, growing up in similar towns around a similar time.

      We called our disco enemies 'disco biscuits'... never heard 'chach' before! And I miss hanging out in Whittier! There used to be a cool cafe in the little downtown area. And Lovell's!

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  12. Firstly, a big congrats on one year well done! I am enjoying every post (Mod Gone Wrong I'm enjoying a little too much, ha), and you have been consistent in frequency of posts, which is difficult to do for a whole year (most people slow down after a while).

    Secondly, I have been holding out on my story because it will sound so cliché. But here goes anyway. I got into Mod seeing the movie Quadrophenia. I know, I know - but wait! In 1979 I went to see Quadrophenia on it's debut in San Diego at Grossmont Center (in La Mesa where I lived). To back up a bit, I grew up glued to my AM transistor radio in the 60s. I loved it all, but I had a particular interest in UK bands and US garage. My first records that I bought were The Troggs' first US release and The Seeds' first album, and my sister bought Tommy when it came out, which got me into The Who (Meaty, Beaty, Big & Bouncy was my fave album - a greatest hits release of their 60s stuff). I started to get into "New Wave" like the B-52s and DEVO in 1978 (logical progression after Cheap Trick and The Cars in those days), but wasn't into punk yet (and hadn't heard of The Jam).

    But then in late '79 I saw Quadrophenia. (I missed the original album in the 70s as my sister didn't buy it and most of the albums I listened to were hers). I went in a Who fan and came out a Mod. Seriously. I know it's a cliché, but I can't lie. The only problem was that I didn't know anyone who was a Mod in San Diego. I had never even seen a punk out in La Mesa (suburbs) except my best friend Ed was sort of new wave.

    My start was awkward too. I got a super short haircut at a barber and dug in my Dad's closet for a 60s suit (2-button green sharkskin), a skinny tie, and some vintage tennis shoes to wear with the suit (gasp!). I didn't have a parka so I got a beige 60s London Fog trench (hey, just like Sting, ha!) and put some badges on it that I bought at Blue Meannie in El Cajon. That store became my hangout as they had all the new singles from England, badges, UK and US music magazines like Crawdaddy, Trouser Press, NME, NY Rocker, and even some local zines like Quasi Substitute, Away From the Numbers, and Bamboo Head. It was in these mags that I discovered there was a local punk scene thriving in San Diego in 1979, with two clubs having shows on Friday and Saturday night, the Skeleton Club and the North Park Lions Club.

    My best friend Ed started introducing me to his small collection of punk and post punk 45s, which was my introduction to The Jam and Stiff Little Fingers (among others). We both worked at Farrell's Ice Cream Parlor in La Mesa, but on separate nights, so on Saturdays when he was going to see Devo or Iggy I was working. In early 1980 I talked him into joining me to check out a show at the North park Lions Club (I was abit afraid to go alone, ha). We got off work at Farrell's and went down there in our work Angels Flight black slacks and white dress shirts (we removed the ties, vests, and hats, and I put on my trenchcoat). I forgot who we saw but it was exciting, and a little scary (people gave us dirty looks). But I was hooked so I kept going. That May I saw a show with The Crawdaddys (I couldn't believe my eyes and ears; it was like the covers of my Rolling Stones and Troggs albums come to life!) and The Unknowns (they became two of my favorite San Diego bands at the time).

    In April of 1980 the Rolling Stone magazine came out which profiled the London Mod revival, which probably was the first time I heard about it (though I also found the Mods Mayday LP and Secret Affair's first album around this time at Off The Record). I still have the mag if you want me to scan it (if it's not already online).

  13. Then in June of 1980 I met my first San Diego Mods. Ed and I went to see The Who at the San Diego Sports Arena (touring with Kenny Jones on drums). It was a spectacular show despite my annoyance of having to stay seated (my first time seeing them). After the show we met Larry and Patti (and maybe some others but I can't recall well). We exchanged phone numbers and before long we were off to shows at the Lions Club or just hanging out and shopping for records and clothes. We went to Blue Meannie a lot because they showed nonstop music videos in the back room including The Jam, The Who, The Clash, etc. and they were cool about us sitting on the floor for hours watching.

    The Mod scene grew slowly in 1980, but eventually we gained strength and heard about the scene in Los Angeles at the ON Klub. I can't remember if it was in 1980 or 1981 when we first made the trek up there. In 1980-81 I went to San Diego State U., but only lasted a year before my social life interfered too much with school so I dropped out, much to the chagrin of my Dad. When I bought a '66 LI125 for $300 he really threw a fit and started charging me rent, so I had to find myself an apartment (more on that later). Meanwhile, I was out late most nights on my newly spray painted scooter, with my real fishtail army parka (found at an army surplus store in El Cajon), and my first mod girlfriend, Missy, who was Mod perfection to me and everyone in our little scene. I was on top of the world, ace face and my girl, proud as punch!

    The scene grew slowly, but there still wasn't any place to go dancing except house parties, which the Crawdaddys were playing often in '80 and '81, after Mike Stax came over from England to join the band in Nov. 1980. The only clubs were strictly over-21, except The Lions Club, which was getting more violent as hardcore grew in popularity and as the cops constantly harassed anyone who didn't look 'normal' in San Diego (they closed down the Skeleton Club by raiding a Go-Go's show, beating everyone up, then calling it a 'riot'). We needed our own club. We spent a lot of time hanging out at a taco stand (taqueria) in La Mesa dancing to our cassettes playing on a portable.

    Around this time The Hedgehogs started playing around, a great 60s beat band (with Ron Silva, Ray Brandes, Carl Rusk and Paul Carsola) and a blast at parties.

    The real turning point in the San Diego Mod scene was the opening of the London Tavern downtown, by some London expats. The long term San Diego Mod band Manual Scan played their first show there in July, 1981, which was the first real Mod event at a club in San Diego, and everyone went (except me sadly, because I was in New York City looking for Mods, and there weren't any). Later that year Peter Verbugge (another UK expat we called Peter English) opened the fabulous International Blend all ages venue as a reggae club initially, but started booking Mod and punk shows, including after school afternoon shows with The Crawdaddys. Later he renamed it Kings Road, and it was a great club, with membership cards, all kinds of shows, and DJ's including Yours Truly, which is where I got my name The Jab (from a jabbing dance move I did then).

    That is pretty much how the San Diego Mod scene got off the ground. It grew greatly in 1981, with trips to Los Angeles, our first scooter rally from Jimmy Rooster's house in Pacific Beach to a showing of Quadrophenia at the Ken Cinema. Side note on Jimmy Rooster: he was our Modfather, an original 60s English Mod who played keyboards in his San Diego 60s R&B band The Roosters, who were a frequent band at early Mod shows at the London Tavern. A 1981 highlight for me was when The Untouchables came down to San Diego one summer weekend in 1981 and played at my Dad's house (he was out of the country) with The Crawdaddys! Even with the cops breaking up the Crawdaddys' set it was a blast!

  14. Finally, I found a place to live so I could move out of my parents (party) house. (This story has been told as the start of the SD Mod scene, which is false. While the story is true, it happened over a year after the scene started). Anyway, I was riding my Lambretta in La Mesa and going the other way on the street was a Mod named Mike Gomes, driving his P200 (later he got a beautiful GS). We passed, then both stopped at the same time, turned around, and went back to meet each other. It turned out he was looking for a roommate, so I soon moved into his place on 35th St near Meade in Normal Heights, and this became the Mod party house for a couple of years.

    I'm sorry for going so long on this, but once I got started it was hard to quit! My memory is pretty bad on dates, but I helped my memory with the Che Underground blog (, a great info source on the San Diego underground music scene in the 80s, with the definitive stories on the Crawdaddys and other important bands) and the San Diego Concert Archive (

    Thanks for all the great posts through the year, Carlos! You keep the spirit alive more than anyone I know. Keep up the great work, here, and in all your endeavors.


  15. From a real sixties mod Carlos , someone that lived it and still does,and by that I don't mean going to the 60's dress up nights that have appeared over the last few years,but in my and generally all of our attitudes from that time,we were diferent.We were'nt the younger versions of our fathers that fought in the war , we didn't have the compliance of dicipline that was instilled into the generation before us and we came from a very dark background of a post war Britain,a place of little colour untill the Festival Of Britain,that in itself was something for the middle classes,not the bastion of the mod , the working classes.
    The gulf between Grammar School boys & Secondry Modern boys was still very much alive,but there was an opportunity to move out of your class,a class greatly divided between those with money , elimentary West End kids that hung round Carnaby Street and spent their parents money and those like us that were either apprentices or factory workers,a gulf that now seems to have been joined together by the great fictional welder of time.
    The mod was militaristic and easilly identified , little colour in comparison to the middle class dandies of the Kings Road and their regional equivelents,most of our daily clothes were from the Army & Navy,functional and cheap and for the weekend spartan suits with strip[ed or plain shirts and a good pair of traditional shoes,not the £2 casual ex army desert boot.I hear stories of Hush Puppies and Clarks , every mod I met had at least one pair of Clarks shoes in their life,the day they started school usually,it would've been an embaressment to be seen in the shop if you were over 12 lol.Hush Puppies....the shoe of the sales rep or the CID lol,my grandfather wore them,another piece of 'latter day' mod knowlege.
    The real driving force of the 60's mod.....masculinity,the freedom of movement because you had a scooter,like many of my interviewed folk , a mod without a scooter was just a kid,not a mod.To ride to a local dance hall and to be told there were no mods allowed because of reputation was a motivational force , lots of girls loved a bad guy ;-)
    The biggest truth ?...the mods of 1963-4 were original , there had been nothing like us since the Ted's and we had never been anything else before being mods,because befor us there were just kids.

    1. I should add if I may , one of the great motivational things of the era was the music,beat had become aggressive,the groups image had little importance,things such as 'mod groups' didn't really exist,they were just groups that mods 'liked'.At that time,that pounding R&B beat had the same effect on us as Rock did on the Teds and Rockers , the young males aggression and adrenaline had kicked in ,a major factor for a 16 year old that had been brought up having to listen to middle aged men singing Italian sounding balads on the BBC Home service.Radio Luxembourg and the Pirate stations brought us something new and exciting,music for all young folks taste,hard beat for the mods and stuff like the Searchers,Hollies & Beatles for the girls,even your parents were catered for with Ken Dodd & Englebert....a time to chose sides and happy days all the same :-)).Kids that dressed like pop stars,the dandies if you wish , were as unpopular to the mod as a greaser was,now it seems that those dressed up kiddies are happy to have the title mod when in fact it was virtually short in the UK for being a trouble maker or deliquent,something the dandy wanted no part of . ;-) thanks.

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  17. Thanks I enjoyed reading the words of a sixties mod Reggie, very enlightening !

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