Does anyone know the origin of the squatters rights symbol (1 Viewer)

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Matt is right on the money, I saw that showing up in the lower east side of NYC in the early 1980s, and also in W.Berlin, Germany in 1981...
As far as NYC went, I seem to think once Peter Missing showed up [Missing Foundation] that's when the symbols showed up, and surprise... I seem to recall that he is from Europe.
That's a good question though, which the original poster presented here, because up until now I never really gave it any thought, I just viewed it as an anarchy/squatters rights type thing.
 
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Older Than Dirt

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Peter Missing is actually from the Bronx, NYC, but moved to Germany in the '80s, and then back to NYC.

The night i met my first wife on the LES in 1981, i was hanging with Pete, and he kept telling me, with great sincerity, "I am a vampire, and have inhabited this physical body for 400 years." Needless to say, i was quick to latch onto this pretty girl i met to get away from him!

He was called Pete Missing before there was a Missing Foundation. I was one of very few fans of his pre-MF band Drunk Driving- i believe there were 4 people in the sudience the first gig i went to. The upside down glass graffiti started with DD, their slogan was "You Could Spill Your Drink!". I also saw what was i think the first NYC Missing Foundation show.

No useful input on squatter symbol, except that i too saw it showing up around the LES mid '80s and always assumed it was European anarchist stuff. Never heard Pete mention the symbol, he exclusively tagged the upside down glass in my recollection.
 
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Fair enough Older Than Dirt, thanks for setting me straight there, as these recollections were based on memories obtained form lots of cheap wine, malt liquior, and crazy night s at CBGBS, the Pyramid Club, among other venues between 1982 and 1989 or so...
Never did make it to A-7 oddly enough, although I hung out across the street often enough.
You have good taste !!
I seem to recall Missing Foundations first gig at CBGBS, they lit the stage on fire at that one, right ??
I was friends with the False Prophets, of whom I'm still a huge fan of.... met them in 1982, when they opened for the UK Subs through a mutual friend I had in Brooklyn.
Man, them were the days !!!

Edit: Actually maybe the False Prophets dabbled with that symbol which this thread is about.... I honestly forget, but I know I used to see it everywhere....

Also that's some good info about Drunk Driving, I forgot about them !!


Cheers................
 

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Yes, at MF's only show at CBs, there was fire, and thus no more shows there. I think that's when they started mostly playing outdoors, and also started the Missing Youth- the line of Latino teenagers from the neighborhood with black MF tshirts standing between the band and anyone else.

Also knew False Prophets, wouldn't say i was friends with them, but my friend Natz lived in Stephan's storefront for a while.

You might remember my old band Ring of Fire if you were around the LES then. We were pretty unpopular with "the kids", due to making fun of "the scene", but got good shows because i sold weed to everyone in hardcore that smoked, so they'd put me on shows with their bands.
 
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Are you talking about the store front which also served as their studio, just to the north of Tompkins Sq park ??
I forget what street it was on, but I know it was east of ave A, and was on an avenue that ran between something like 9th and 10th streets ?? Maybe Ave B ???
The store front I'm thinking of also served as their studio when Peter Cambell was still in the band, Steve Wishnia lived there, along with Donna who was their drummer for I think just 1983....
I want to say that Stephan actually lived inside a hole that passed through the floor into God knows where......
Steve is still the same, nothing has changed with him - hard to believe.... while I hear Stephan went west, but those guys sincerely believed in the struggle of humanity....
I vaguely recall Missing Youth, but I do not recall your band.... but that's does nto mean that I did not know about your band back then, as much of that time period [1982 - 1992] was/is just a blur.
By 1984, I was bored with NYHC and jumped into catch the very tail end of the early 1980s downtown art/noise scene, and from 1983 - 84, and finally 89, I was 1/2 of Third Uncle, which was more performance art orientated.
Played at NO-SE-NO on Rivington Street, man that neighborhood was wild back then !!

I bet this symbol which brought upon this thread is hardly ever even seen in those parts anymore, as the very last time I visited the LES was in 1995, and it was frightening how beautiful it became, not to mention expensive...

Same with the west side, by the docks... that was insane south of 14th street, and what's it today... boring coffee shops..... uuurrrgghhh.... !!!!!!!!
 
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Older Than Dirt, I also remember thinking how when MDC passed through in 1983 [??] how that got people thinking regarding squatting and the law, man.... this is going to bother me all day now, the origin of the squatters rights symbol....
I know the Bad Brains had their own views on how neighborhoods could function, and they also got people thinking differently.
1982/1983 was one wild time to be out in NYC !!!
It's like, how many people knew about the real origins of the Beastie Boys ??
I still remember hanging out with them at CBs, when they were still getting beat up in school for having very short hair, and look what came out of that, they certainly got the last laugh !!!
Yeah, early 80s NYHC could never happen today.
But the thing is, the mindset back then is still valid today, even more so.....
Yeah, there's a lot of people living good today - too good if you ask me.
Like, how Amazon needs huge tax incentives to create jobs in areas, because they are sooooo poverty stricken..... poor Amazon......

Check this out, me and you are not that far apart in age, the 1960s had their thing, which the 1970s built on, which by the mid/late 1970s kids revolted on, the 80s started with a bang but kind of ended with a let down, and by the 1990s, it just seemed that everything became safe.

Where is today's youth headed ??

You know, it's like our generations all started something or maybe expanded on something, but today - and I'm not saying this in a negative way - how does one grow up today in a world where the rich and poor are expanding, while the middle class is shrinking ??

Everything has gotten so expensive, and materialistic - although that is starting to change with the younger folks.

I was just watching a ton of videos from the 1970s regarding the South Bronx.

How the hell did those people even survive ??


Children only knowing violence and poverty, and lots and lots and lots of fires........

What brought us to that point ??

The Lower East Side was crazy to in the 1970s/80, Bridgeport CT was super bad back then as well.

The thing which i am trying to comprehend is what happened ??

Did they really disperse all the poor folks to the suburbs into small towns and cities in order to get them out of the big cities ??

It seemed to me that the squatters - especially the punks and skins - out lasted everyone, perhaps because they stood united ??

Squatters Rights was so big in NYC during the 1980s, Steve Wishnia to this day still writes articles about it, and how greedly landlords kick out the poor and crank the rents up 500%....

I mean, it seems that the poor folks are being forgotten because they are not really seen anymore in the numbers that they once were, since their neighborhoods were torn down/burned out but they are still out there, along with the squatters....

I was going somewhere with all this but I forgot where.

This whole squatters rights thing is so important, as it effects everyone, even property owners, although it's called something else when they are getting kicked out of their places: eminent domain.

I've been paying attention to the whole thing at The Slabs, where someone actually now owns a bunch of land there [east jesus maybe ??] and I worry that this will eventually lead to development as dollar signs start to appear, in place of squatters rights signs........
 

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We surely must have met back then, @OTTERWOLF - the scene was so small!

The False Prophets storefront was on Ave. B just north of 10th street on the west side of B. It later became an excellent bar called the Lakeside Lounge, which may still be going. I recall hearing that Stephan Ielppi slept in a coffin. Steve Wishnia writes regularly about NYC housing/gentrification struggles for gothamist.com.

The Beastie Boys were friends and weed customers. The late John Berry, the original Beastie Boys guitar player who is on Pollywog Stew (replaced by Adan Horowitz/"King Ad-Roc"), was my best friend for 35 years until he was hospitalized with premature senile dementia and then died in 2016.

I think the main influence on squatting was from the UK, where since the hippie era, squatting had been very big. So pretty much all punk bands from the UK had folks who lved in squats from the very beginning, and then with all the post-Crass anarchopunk "circle logo bands" lots of squatter advocacy talk. And the LES was full of abandoned buildings at that time.

Me and some friends broke into an abandoned building on 7th between B and C around 1982-3, intending to squat it. As we were emerging into a vacant lot from our entry, the heroin/coke dealers from Laundromat, a well-known dope/coke spot which was across the street (there was no laundromat but there once had been) , starting yelling at us, and throwing rocks at us. So we went to talk to them.

They told us that if we squatted that building across the street from their spot, they would come in when we were sleeping and kill us, because a squat would bring "heat" (cops) to the block. It did not seem to matter to them that killing a bunch of punk/skinhead kids would probably bring cops too.

So we gave up, and i went back to living in apartments and not paying rent, and then fighting the landlords in court. The building was homesteaded about 10 years later, and Laundromat just kept chugging away, and was still doing fine until around 2000ish.

A bunch of the more violent skinhead kids (Harley, Bloodclot, Watson, etc- the Cro-Mags/Agnostic Front crew, including Bags from SF, who bit a kid's ear off at the CBs matinee (he had a tattoo that said "I EAT PUSSY" but it said nothing about ears)) were the first people i knew who managed to hold down an LES squat, about that time, maybe '83. Then the floodgates opened and a lot of folks started.
 
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Ok... did Tompkins sq run from 7th to 10th street ??
I'm losing track of how that area used to be in relation to places I would frequent.
It is quite possible we at least were art the same shows, because like you said the scene was very small back then.
I saw The Abused with Agnostic Front so many times at CBGBs at the afternoon shows, along with The Psychos, Antidote.... so many bands.... Reagan Youth..... boy, Dave's life really got sad towards the end.
In 1981, I went back to W.Berlin, which of course was in E.Germany at that time, in fact the only Germany I knew was the divided one.... I was 16 at the time, and I saw first hand what the scene was like back then.
We had a layover in London [Heathrow??] and an officer came up to me and remarked "Now that's a rather distasteful shirt, isn't it ??" and he was huge with that tall hat they wore [I was 6ft 6in !!] and I honestly had no response, as I was wearing my Never Mind The Bollocks Here's The Sex Pistols t-shirt, that I scored in Woolworths in Brooklyn LOL !!
But Berlin was wild, the kids were so destructive to themselves it was frightening but at the same time their music scene was so good.
East Berlin, that's another story for another day......................

Truth be told, I never really ventured into alphabet city, so I never really knew about all the squats down in that area, I found myself hanging out on Crosby Street south of Houstan... as it was a mix mosh of industrial, artists [sculptures] and just plain urban decay... it was just the right mix, and it was there where in 1983 that I was definately seeing a ton of stencil art, along with artists who decided that the buildings themselves were more suitable than canvas. It was amazing how different that area became once it got dark, NOBODY was outside it was super desolate, you could do anything there and nobody would bother you - except wheat paste flyers, then a big pail of boiling water would be sent down like a downpour while the man yelled POST NO BILLS.

Your stories take me way back in time, I heard about Bags... do you know what year that happened ??

I remember in 82, 83 that the scene was still united - by virtue of being so small - but by 84 it seemed that all thekids we were avoiding - the jocks - suddenly showed up and things got ugly, so I split and hung out elsewhere......

The thing I'll always remember was hanging out at Ratcage Records.
It was like being in someones apartment that sold records, which I seem to think that's essentially what it was - then there was a good recording studio right in that same area too that everyone was using.

I'm having a hard time accepting that it's really 2020, I can remember when 1999 seemed so far into the future............

In 1983, I was in a band called Adam 12.
I got kicked out before any gigs, but they did eventually play at least one show before calling it quits..... however by the early 90s we did reform and put out a 7 in record, which last time I checked is worth a stupid amount of money, god knows why as I probably have a hundred of them stored away here, maybe because REVS played guitar ??

Speaking of REVS, I knew him very very well, in fact I'm the one who turned him on to graffiti just as i was getting out of it.... and REVS took it to a whole 'nother level, especially with his life story being written in the tunnels....

I have not been in contact with him for many years, but last I heard his heath was very poor.
He played in the band GodSquad during the mid 1990s as well..... real wild guitar player, played guitar like I played electric bass... no rules, no fear !!

Can't even begin to imagine what it's like in the LES today, I remember when REVS lived on Clinton St in the early 1990s, it was still like being in a place where if you were not Spanish you were an outsider, but at the same time there was an atmosphere which could not be denied, and it felt good being down there.
Last time I checked, it's lilly white with ultra expensive rents and coffee shops replacing all the businesses the Spanish folks had going on.......

It's so strange to wonder if anyone from that whole NYHC era is still around.

I know Stephan slept in a hole, I'm not aware of a coffin but I do recall something really weird about him getting caught with hundreds of slaughtered chickens - or something like that, and that's when i knew I was going in a very different direction than he was, last I heard he's in LA, doing God knows what.............

I know Steve Wishnia still lives in NYC, but he's been out of the LES for a little while now.

Did you ever eat that stew he used to cook ??
It included everything in the kitchen sink ??
Steve's Purina Chow for People ??

If you did, you would never forget it......................

And Steve's got to be 65 by now, as I think he had 10 years on me.

For a while I was close with a real good friend of his, a woman named Lynn which is now living in Jamacia Plains up in Boston.

She knew all kinds of people in the NY Scene in the 1970s and was very open to having all kinds of people stay with her.... real cool woman, although I lost contact with her as well.......

I think the thing which was so crazy back then was the lack of communication which we take for granted today.

Back then, the telephone was it as far as communication went, you spun that wheel a few times at got someone [maybe !!] at the other end of the line but to really have nothing, and live in a cold squat in a bitter cold winter, with no outside communications man that must have been real bleak - especially if there was banging on the door or someone rushing up the stairs............
 

Older Than Dirt

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Tompkins Sq is indeed from 7th to 10th, between A and B.

The Abused: Run into James Kontra on the street, maybe '82; Kontra is one a quite a few Russian Jewish gangsters' kids from Brighton Beach who are punk rock and hang on the LES; they all came to America as a result of the "Save Soviet Jews!" movement of the '70s. The clever Commies sent all their gangsters and criminals that had any Jewish encestry, and their families.

"What you up to, James?"

"Today, I beat up Abused."

"Which one?"

"All of them!"

James later became a very crooked stockbroker. He attended the second Tompkins Sq riot in a red Mercedes convertible with two not-at-all-punk blonde Russian women and many bottles of expensive champagne. The first one he was more conventionally punk rock. Equally psycho at both.

Antidote: Possibly my best weed customers. Bliss, Loud Puerto Rican Louie, and Nunzio spent so much time on my couch smoking my reefer i should have charged them rent. I met Bliss the same night i ditched Pete Missing for my future first wife. This super-preppy kid with a crewcut comes up to me and wants to fight; we fight. The next night, he does it again in a different bar. I tell him i won't fight him again until he tells me why. He says "You beat up my singer [the aforementioned Loud Puerto Rican Louie] at a [Beastie Boys/The Young And The Useless] show [on the 4th of July 1981], so i figure if i beat you down, he will obey me in the band". I tell him that is the most retarded thing i ever heard and we became friends.

I remember seeing Adam 12 flyers around.

Bags biting that kid's ear off is in Harleys' book, i would say it was maybe 1983-4, but the book may be more specific. If you have not read Harley's book, it is well worth it, and an amusing contrast to Bloodclot's book, in that Harley is more, um, truthful. If you don't know about Harley getting jumped by the new Cro-Mags at a show a couple years ago, google "Harley Flanagan stabbing". He is no bigger than you remember; he put three of them in the hospital.

Was just emailing back and forth a few days ago with Judy, Dave Insurgent's GF who i re-met many years later.

The last time i saw Dave Ratcage, sometime in the late '90s, they were skateboarding north on Park Ave in a full length black velvet dress, and i remember thinking "jesus, that must be hot." I think they're dead, like almost everyone else from those days. [pronoun edits bc although i always knew Dave Ratcage as male, and all this was before pronouns were a thing, pretty sure they did not identify as male at that time? Although still (i heard) with that small blonde girl from the Ratcage Records store days- Cathy? And still known as Dave Ratcage, just in a dress.]

If you don't remember Ring Of Fire, what about my other band, Pig Fucking Contest? Me and Angus (RIP 2015) never played a show, and our band was just us screaming, mic feedback, taping down lots of notes on my Farfisa organ, and pounding on things we found in the trash, but we did tag the band name constantly.

The name comes from something Angus swore he heard an old Vermont redneck say once when very surprised: "Well, i seen a duck fart underwater, and a pig fucking contest, but if that don't beat the damnedest thing!"
 
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Excerpt from a shitty book I'm reading...so I can't guarantee it's accuracy:

“Some squatters believe the symbol is an adaptation of a Nordic rune, with the “N” signifying a lightning strike and symbolizng power and the circle around it representing a dwelling. The arrow off the top symbolizes the rune Teiwaz, or courage in battle. The squatter’s rights symbols varies slightly from the East to West coasts. On the West Coast, the youths often add a small cross at the bottom, signifying the female side, or Wicca.”
 
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Nope, can't say I remember your other band... I am failing miserablly here... but I do remember that small blonde Dave at Ratcage hung out with at the shop, she was pretty cool, I thought it was real neat that she was into Bauhaus.....
Had no idea about Ratcage Dave switching his identity.... I never would have guessed that, man...
Reagan Youth Dave, he used to give me hell for passing out on the dance floor at CBGBs, then a few years later - 1989 ?? in Washington Sq park - actually outside of it, who do I run into but a real strung out Dave Insurgent.. really strung out bad, and he had gotten into Krishna [remember when that was big in the scene ??] and gave me a card with an invite to go to the center on Hoyt and Schimahorn Street [I know way off on the spelling...] and I took it - and even more astonishing - I still have it somewhere in my studio downstairs.
By then i was done.
I was living in CT, with a whole new path in front of me.
The violence and the drug casualties was something I was not cool with, and believe me - I was for the most part in stupor for pretty much most of the 1980s.... but still, I saw what junk was doing and I knew to steer clear from that.
There was this tall girl named Pat.
Dark hair slender, I was tall too - by then I hit 6ft 7in and weighted maybe 185 or so [add a 100# today...] and I want to say that she might have really liked me, she crossed her legs over mine on the stage at CBGBs one night, but I did not act.... gosh I wish I did.
Last time I saw her she was a real mess.... it was terrible.

One show that stands out is The Young and The Useless, Beasties, and Reagan Youth.
I'm going to guess that was spring time 1983... 1983 for sure, just not sure when....

That show was lifechanging for me.
Prior to that, I saw the UK Subs in late 82 with the Misguided opening... that was a crazy show as well, they were touring the Endangered Species album if I recall... but that show with the Beastie Boys and Reagan Youth, later on I hung out on maybe 1st ave and 3rd or 4th street ?? with members of the Betrayed, and some older gal was hanging around, when I mean older like maybe 30, as I was 18... and all of a sudden all the skins show up, and it was great - they appologized for getting a bit out of hand and we all downed a few quarts together.

You remember Boobie, aka Blubie when he had his blue mowhawk ??
And Frenchie ??

Who was the guy who had the tattoo of the pigs face with F U C K on top and N Y P D below on his upper arm/shoulder area ??

I rememeber the cops giving Blulie a hard time about his MDC shirt, and they asked him what MDC stood for, and he goes Millions of Delicious Cookies, and since he was a round guy, the cops laughed like hell and let him off....

One time some one tried to run a couple of skins over that car gout pounded and had quarts going through the rear window.

I had a lot of fun in the early days, but by 84 it sucked so I found a different scene that worked better for me.

Did you know a Bernard McDermott ??
Played in a band called the Ultimates ??

I hung with him for like 8 years straight from 84 on........... he was friends with Steve Wishnia, etc...

The whole squatter scene - I was aware of it, but I knew nothing about it.

But I can still see those symbols everywhere in my mind if I think about them days.

You hear about what went down Friday night with the revolt against the MTA ??
That was pretty nuts........

I'm glad I'm away from all that now - but living where I'm at comes with it's own problems.

I'm gonna cool out here, as we've kinda hijacked this thread and I'm glad that Matt has not come down on us for doing so, but i feel what you've been saying is very revelent to this thread, and important to anyone interested in wondering what it was like back then.

My true name is Geroge, I had a reputation of being a really really nice lanky guy who liked to drink cheap wine and or malt liquior but I was not out to cause trouble.

I used to wear a gray trench coat that said False Prophets on the back, I also had my fathers legit army jacket [from the early/mid 1960s] which had a spectacular CRASS mural on the back that I did, I loved that jacket so much, but my mom had other ideas for it......... so into the garbage it went when I was not paying attention.

Cheers Mate.
It would be great to catch up some time.
 

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Yes, was good friends with Bubby (another Russian Jew from Brighton Beach), and do remember the blue mohawk, and his famous "Millions Delicious Cookies, officer" answer. He is a Doctor of Eastern Medicine (acupuncture) now.

Ran into his boys Richie and Gigo, two Russian brothers who were shorter Sid Vicious clones, at an A-7 memorial show about ten years ago. Urban Waste, also good weed customers despite being so young played, and Nunzio's new version of Antidote. Most of the above folks had that ex-dopefiend face.

Yes, also knew Frenchie, who lived in that first skinhead squat i mentioned; he's dead now.

The violence and everyone getting strung out is also why i stopped hanging on the scene much after '86-87, when i went back to school.

I emailed a pal who was the first dirty-kid style punk i met, around maybe 1992 or so, and who is pals with Crass, Stratford Mercenaries, and others of the circle-logo-band ilk.

He says that the squatter symbol originates in 1960s UK hippie era squats, and he is emailing folks in the UK for more info, which i will post if it arrives.
 

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I mean... Chances are another mod is gonna come along and tell y'all to take it to a PM, that you're extremely off topic but until then...I'm actually pretty fascinated by this exchange of anecdotes.
 

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Yeah, we did wander a bit, but we did at least wind up both wandering back to the topic.

And i figured all the old-school LES NYHC violence'n'drugs stuff would at least not bore anyone too bad, and since almost everyone from back then is dead, we old crocks don't run into each other too often. So that's my excuse. And probably @OTTERWOLF 's too.

Actually, only most folks are dead. The rest seem to have gone to prison, or grad school, or into the construction trades, in about equal numbers. And, of course, two rock stars (the living Beastie Boys), and a major music exec (Rick Rubin, of NYHC/funk band Hose (as in the plural of "ho")).

Probably will have some actual OT info from my man's UK squatty Crasshole pals (way older even than us) soon.
 
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Eng JR Lupo RV323, understood....

Older Than Dirt, it would be interesting to put together some kind of first gen NYHC family tree to just see where everyone wound up, and from what you are saying it's all over the place, I mean I wound up being of all things a Blackhawk and Super Stallion mechanic for many many years at a defense plant !!

S.T.P. MODS: Thanks for letting us converse, I was not expecting to find another person here who was a part of the same scene I was, back in the early 80s which I considered to be the tail end of the first wave of NYHC, which to me is where/what the whole NYC squatter thing came out of, hence me seeing that symbol all over the place downtown which is what this whole thread is all about, the origins......

Cheers Everybody !!
I'll be on the sidelines now taking a break.

Big George W, NYHC Adam 12 vocals 1982/3, electric bass 1992/3, 1995
 
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I mean... Chances are another mod is gonna come along and tell y'all to take it to a PM, that you're extremely off topic but until then...I'm actually pretty fascinated by this exchange of anecdotes.

This is more interesting than most things I read on here. NYC punk histories!
 

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