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Holmstrom's Australia Story
by John Holmstrom

My mom took my big sister Anne and I to Australia for two weeks in March of 1977. My mom wasn't rich - she and my dad had just sold the family house and the buyer put a lien on it so she decided to spend some of the money before the lien froze it just in case they lost in court. (But they won.)

We had just delivered PUNK #9 to the printer, we approved the final blueprints, then Legs, Tom Katz and I fired Ged Dunn, Jr., PUNK's first publisher. (Long story.) Then I got on a plane for the first time in my life and spent 36 hours flying to New Zealand. Kind of boring. Then we went to Sydney, Australia. I picked up a copy of Rock Australia Magazine (RAM), thumbed through it, and there was a full-size reproduction of the cover of PUNK #1 to illustrate a Caroline Coon interview with Lou Reed on Page 23. I showed it to my mom and sister. They were impressed.

While in Australia the editor of RAM gave me a tour of Sydney. For some reason I remember seeing a band called Split Enz from New Zealand at the local rock club, which was sort of dead. Split Enz were really awful - a "new wave" outfit that wore silly clothes and even sillier makeup and played bad, trendy music.

Right before I left I met up with The Saints and Radio Birdman at a small party. I hadn't been prepared to do an interview but I took a few notes. The Saints were mostly nice guys but were on my case because they thought the London scene was much cooler than the New York scene. (It was becoming tough to defend NYC around that time; that "Radio Ethiopia" LP by the Patti Smith Group wasn't exactly the most exciting record of all time.) The guys in Radio Birdman were much friendlier. I think they were impressed because I had actually met Iggy Pop in person. They all insisted that I should stay over for a double bill they were playing in a few days but I couldn't afford to miss the plane - it was a charter. This turned out to be a legendary concert: Paddington Town hall April 3rd, the last time they shared a stage.

I was preparing to write something about the scene in Australia but as soon as I walked in the door of the PUNK Dump I was informed by Tom Katz and Legs McNeil that the printer had disappeared, along with all of the original artwork for PUNK #9. Gone. For good. Worst of all, they had demanded payment up front for PUNK #9! Tom Katz had borrowed money and emptied our bank accounts to get the issue published. We were totally screwed.

We decided to throw a benefit, but we had to work day and night for two months to pull it off. Soon after, the PUNK Dump became uninhabitable because the roaches and rats had gone wild and we had to move. Another disaster. And soon after that I had to move out of my apartment, and lost half of my belongings during the move. Anyhow, by the time I recovered from all these changes, my Australia story and interviews had been lost forever.

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