A music punk during the hegemony of social punk, San Pedro’s D. BOON (Dennes Dale Boon, 1958-1985) was the lead singer and guitarist of the Minutemen, the misfit band in an outsider subculture, making them perhaps the punkest of all. Boon was a populist and democratic idealist — attempting to enact something like the engaged café culture whose passing Habermas decried (e.g., booking clubs with earlier shows so that working people could go and still get some sleep; publishing a fanzine called the Prole). Boon’s and Mike Watt’s gnomic lyrics were designed to perturb their youthful audiences; vigorous rational debate was the religion and Boon was a prophet of the Word: “I’m not religious about God… I’m religious about Man.” D. Boon disdained any claims to personal distinction, urging everyone to create, to engage, to act: “Our band could be your life.” As for the music, it was fucking genius — drawing on rockabilly, jazz, funk, folk, early punk, prog-rock to create kernels of musical ideas that shimmer and disappear in rivers of songs. In the name of band equality, Boon freed his Telecaster of all distortion and set it at a dentist drill treble, not allowing any low-range tones to escape his amp to blunder into Watt’s bass jurisdiction. Onstage, Boon was ebullient, ecstatic even, bouncing his generous frame around in his too-thin loafers, or bobbing backward and forward like a crazed version of one of those bird-drinking-water toys. But his playing was tight, those clean, bristly notes spraying out at unbelievable speed, then everything stops, then they’re off again. “99″ off What Makes a Man Start Fires is the exemplary Minutemen song — three distinct movements, a blistering, concise guitar solo, all in one minute. D. Boon died at age 27 when the van he was riding in went off the road. Watt, who continues to live the Minutemen ethos and produce music unlike anything else out there, still dedicates his music to his friend: “folks ask what kind of bass player am I. my answer is ‘I’m d. boon’s bass player.’”
On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: Gil Scott-Heron.
PS: We recently named Mike Watt a HiLobrow. Mike Watt and the Missingmen’s North American Hyphenated-Man tour 2011 kicked off last month. The opera will be performed 51 times in 52 days, in the US and Canada.
PPS: Happy Birthday to HiLobrow’s Artist in Residence, Peggy Nelson. Also Happy Birthday to our friends Rick and Nancy Pinchera; Rick has contributed some terrific illustrations to HiLobrow, like this one.
READ MORE about members of the Original Generation X (1954-63).