Don’t Forget the Streets:

New York City Hardcore Punk and the Struggle for Inclusive Space

by

Alan Parkes

Keywords

  • New York City
  • punk
  • hardcore
  • youth crew
  • subculture
  • masculinity
  • straight edge
  • neoliberalism

On October 30, 1975, in response to president Gerald Ford’s refusal to bail out New York City, the _New York Daily News _covered its front page with the now infamous headline, “FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD.” Reprivatizing the economy thus became the official answer to New York City’s fiscal disorder. However, the official answer did not stimulate contentment among New Yorkers who watched as their neighborhoods deteriorated and crime rates surged. Some of these New Yorkers sought reprieve in hardcore punk, a powerful new sound and style that began spreading across the U.S. in the late 1970s. Thus, while the city dropped dead, hardcore punk began rising from New York’s squats and attempted to construct a space detached from the influence of ineffectual city officials and inner-city violence. Through images, lyrics, fanzines, and local media, the author examines the intersection of hardcore punk and New York City. During the 1980s, New York City’s economic failure, subsequent decline in infrastructure, and increase in crime and drug abuse directly influenced a burgeoning hardcore scene. Hardcore sought to create an inclusive alternative to New York’s deteriorating streets and the dangers they presented. However, as a reaction to the streets it attempted to subvert, hardcore necessitated recognition of the city's structural challenges and thus fell prey to hypermasculine norms akin to those typified by the affliction of New York’s streets.