A Punk Move: S.F. That Much Closer to Naming Street After Curmudgeonly Club Owner

Categories: Government
Dirk_JohnnyStrike_stomp.jpegDirk Dirksen, seen here stomping the shit out of Frankie Fix of the band CRIME, will soon have a plaque honoring him on the street where his club helped establish West Coast punk. The city plans to later name this street in Dirksen's honor; can a sewer grate honoring Mr. Fix be far behind? Photo by James Stark

City to signal white smoke for S.F. "Pope of Punk"

By Joe Eskenazi

Question: How many San Francisco streets are named after a man who once jumped out of a large cake while wearing a tutu and penis-nose, all in front of a roaring crowd? (and we're not talking about Montgomery, Funston or Sloat here)

Answer: One, soon.

Dirk Dirksen, the deceased, acerbic club owner who gave countless punk bands their start at his now-mythical Mabuhay Garden (the "Fab Mab") is all set to have the alley his  venue once graced named after him. Kathy Peck -- whose 30th birthday was highlighted by the aforementioned Dirksen cake-leap -- said  the $2,000 required to create a plaque in Dirksen's honor has been raised, and anticipated its installation later this month or, at the latest, in January in the street where many bands loaded, unloaded and "did lots of nefarious things." As for the official street renaming, that will take some more time -- longer than  a Ramones song, that's for certain. Dirksen died in 2006, 22 years after closing up the "Fab Mab." In the years since, he'd been a devoted servant to the community, working at recreation centers for the handicapped, volunteering at Peck's foundation for hearing-impaired musicians and teaching kids in a Mission after-school cooking program how to make his favorite dish: Spaghetti with Tabasco.

But he is best remembered as the biting host of the Fab Mab, the "Pope of Punk" musicians and audiences alike felt privileged to be insulted by. Famously, he once told an audience "You should try and show some intelligence and sophistication and not just accept any slop that's thrown in your trough," after a band's sub-par set. Peck -- former bassist for The Contractions, recalls many a day when Dirksen shouted "Shut up, you animals" in her general direction.

In operating "the CBGBs of the West" at 433 Broadway, Dirksen provided a venue for comics like Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg, and a young Tom Ammiano as well as bands including Metallica, Devo, Blondie, Black Flag, The Ramones as well as "lots of really bad musicians," noted Peck.

The street that will eventually bear Dirk Dirksen's name is currently known as Rowland Alley; nobody has yet been able to answer who Rowland was. And while Peck and others had hoped to rename the street "Dirk Dirksen Alley," the city appears adamant that it will be "Dirk Dirksen Place."

"The punks are OK with that," confirms Peck.


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