At Large Nartards and Neo-Nazi Trading Cards
posted by January 12 at 7:07 AMon
[Brendan Kiley is on tour in Europe with the Holy Ghost Revival this month.]
A new word for me: Nartards (“anarchist retards”): noun, used to refer to people (70 percent men, 99 percent white) who look like punk rockers from the ’70s, minus any variation in their taste in music (all growling hardcore) or the color scheme of their clothes (all black, with the obligatory studs, spikes, and patches of mostly American bands). The aesthetic is a postindustrial apocalyptic yearning. They drink by the gallon, smoke by the pack, rarely laugh, sometimes live in squats, parrot the same empty threats against The Man, but are super-serious about fighting low-level neo-Nazis.
Going to high school in the ’90s and being a casual fan of punk rock, I never understood all the “smash Nazis” patches and stickers that the dedicated American punks wore on their clothes. (Where were these phantom Nazis? Shouldn’t those punk kids take road trips to throw Molotov cocktails in Idaho or something?) But in a Bremen squat bar, they have collectible cards with the photos and addresses of alleged neo-Nazis and a few paragraphs of text detailing their crimes, so you can look them up and smash their windows or something.
Last night, the bands played in and stayed at a squat in Potsdam. It was an old East German brewery, now a several-stories-tall concrete warren with two stages, two bars (one with an old Chevy wedged into the wall and a morose goth-looking bartender serving beer and absinthe), pungent bathrooms, and around 20 full-time residents. It was a punk-rock time warp from the 1970s: leather, studs, the porcupine hairdos. It was like a cross between a bomb shelter, a castle, and a kids’ clubhouse, with graffiti and posters on the walls. The most memorable ones: a vintage Nazi poster with a swastika and the slogan “In the name of the German people,” and one of a punk with scales—the lighter one holding a beer, the heavier one holding a bomb and the slogan; “If you do not resist, you are part of the problem.”
This squat was nice and clean enough, unlike the horror story we’ve been hearing in several cities about a Copenhagen squat where a young woman overdosed and either crawled or was shoved under a bed and wasn’t found for a month. According to the story, she had to be scraped off the floor by the police. Supposedly it was cold enough and smelled bad enough already (some of these places are truly filthy, with human shit and dog shit and vomit left to shellac the corners) that nobody noticed. Apocryphal, but illustrative.
We’ve just arrived in Berlin, where the Holy Ghost Revival and Clorox Girls will play a bar called White Trash Fast Food. It looks fairly nice from the outside, with a Chinese look a la Chop Suey. We load in the gear soon (our daily weight lifting routine).
Tonight, the venue will put us up in a hostel, where we’ll have showers and maybe laundry. I can’t even smell myself any more. Which is a good thing.