20 years after, Grant Shilling ponders the legacy of the « Squamish Five » and the future of punk activism in a post-9/11 world.
Well, come on, man you better jump right in
This is one game that everybody’s in
Don’t care where you’ve been, don’t care how you look
It’s hell fire, man, you’re in, you gotta cook
We don’t care what you say – fuck you!
– » Fuck You » by Gerry « Useless » Hannah, Subhumans
It’s November 2001 and Joey « Shithead » Keithley of DOA, the legendary Vancouver punk group, is firing up a Cumberland, British Columbia crowd with a chorus of cathartic FUCK YOUs. The put-downs are for the province’s Liberal government and their bone-headed decision to remove the « Ginger Goodwin Way » signs that dot the new Vancouver Island Autobahn. The signs were designated in 1996 by the NDP provincial government in memory of the labour martyr, who was shot in the back by the RCMP in 1918 in the woods just outside of Cumberland. Keithley, who has written a song about Goodwin, was invited by local labour leaders to take part in the Cumberland rally. Ginger Goodwin was a worker’s friend who fought for a 40-hour work week. Many consider Goodwin the Che Guevara of the region. Others consider him a coward for taking a pacifist’s stand during World War I.
» Fuck You » is an old Subhuman’s song, which DOA initially covered in 1983 as part of a benefit single to provide support for Subhuman singer Gerry Hannah and the other members of the Squamish Five. « Fuck You » is the verbal equivalent of a bomb. It is a total rejection of structure, power or polite society. « Fuck You » is non-negotiable, nihilistic and knowing. It is the essence of punk and once uttered it often finds its agents. Hannah was one of those agents.
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