Friday, July 3, 2015
Picture us coolin out on the 4th of July and if you heard we was celebratin’ that’s a world wide lie!- Flavor Flav
I wasn’t close friends with Lin “Spit” Newborn. Like most of the people I met in the Las Vegas punk scene he was a passing acquaintance. But he stuck out like a sore thumb among the ranks of scenesters who regularly snuck into shows at the Huntridge or smoked joints in the backyards of house parties.
I remember being thoroughly stoked when I first saw him at some bullshit show featuring some forgettable bands sometime in the early to mid 90’s. I’m not ashamed to admit it was a thrill to see a black punk rocker. Sure there were a handful of black people who attended shows even as far back as the 80’s when I first made the scene but he was by far the punkest black dude I’d met up to that point. What I mean is he was aesthetically “punk as fuck!” He could’ve easily been photographed for those ubiquitous Punk and Disorderly compilations that came out back in the day. He was all spikes and bondage pants, creepers, piercings, tattoos and safety pins. Mind you, this was before that shit became as above ground as it is today. He was more decked out than most everyone who went to shows back then.
Not to downplay the black punks who didn’t get all duded up with the all the trappings. I mean the guy who introduced me to more punk music than anyone else was my good friend Ryland Luss. And yeah, he was a black guy too, but he rarely wore more than an Operation Ivy pin on his dirty gray shirt. It’s corny in retrospect to find that all so appealing, but for Las Vegas, Nevada in the 90’s that was a rarity. Living in Portland, Oregon I’ve seen my share of punq as fuck black people. I’ve even seen scary, somewhat ambiguous black guys up here wearing Burzam shirts, but that’s just too confusing to ponder right now. Although I think I get their point as well.
As mentioned I wasn’t super tight with Spit. I’m not overly tight with anyone really, but we bumped into each other now and again. I was at a house party drinking beer in the backyard a few feet from Spit when this crazy lady I knew came up and began aggressively hitting on me. I normally would welcome those kind of advances but I knew about this lady, and knew she wasn’t entirely stable so I wasn’t taking the bait. Spit witnessed the whole thing go down and he busted out laughing, gave me a big hug and proceeded to tell me what a pimp I was. The lady got the hint, and being somewhat embarrassed by the attention from Spit, she slunk off, which was a good thing because I probably would have run with it if she kept up the pressure.
Another time at a different party/show in the same back yard, which I’m guessing was Rob Nelson’s house, me and Spit got into a conversation about the challenges of refraining from “breaking the seal.” Which more or less is a challenge you issue to other drinking buddies to see who could continue drinking the longest without taking a piss. You could say we were intellectuals.
I saw him around and would say hi several times over the years even though I didn’t know his name and I'm sure he probably didn’t know my name either. It was just cool knowing that the one PUNK black guy in the scene would say “sup.” at the rare Huntridge show I’d go to. I thought it strange that he later started working at a store that did body piercings. Back then it seemed like a hippie trip to do piercings but hey it was the 90’s when bad hippie shit flowed with the same eagerness as industrial music, or the concept of “alternative.” In retrospect I guess it was all considered "punk" since punk at that time, and really for along time since, had lacked focus. In any event I didn’t see him for years unless I looked through the window of the body piercing shop on the way to Benway Bop next door, which was the local record store for Las Vegas at the time.
It was quite the shock to hear that Lin “Spit” Newborn his friend Dan Shersty were found murdered in the desert on the outskirts of town a few days after the Fourth of July in 1998. It was a considerably smaller punk scene active in Las Vegas in the mid 90’s. Shit even I was in a band at that point. The specter of Nazi Skinhead fascism, which was a huge thing in the 80’s and early 90’s, seemed to have dissipated, at least as far as the parties and shows I went to, but the rumblings and the rumors were that it was perpetrated by Nazis. Which turned out to be true. This being one of the last high profile murders attributed to the underground Nazi Skinhead scene in America during the 90’s.
It’s especially galling considering that just two years ago one of the main suspects, who fled for Germany shortly after the murders, was finally apprehended when he came back to the US with a fake passport. He would later stand trial, be accused by his SISTER. Yes, that’s right his blood relative. HIS SISTER. And yet be found not guilty. Smells like bullshit to me and just about everyone else who knew about this tragic event. And yet life goes on.
I’ve looked more than once to find pictures of Spit and Dan. In the age of the internet I’m shocked there are not dozens, if not hundreds of pictures of this guy. He was picture taking material by far. I have to assume there are more pictures of him out there but all that I’ve ever been able to find is what I am providing here. Strangely the site that hosts the most photos of both these guys is all in Chinese? I’m asking you dear reader. If you have pictures of Spit or Dan, please send them to me so that I may add them to this blog entry so that there will be a more high profile way to remember them. I ask you to please go back to your old boxes of photos if you think you may have them. Send them to me. I can digitize any old negatives or old photos or digitize them yourself and email them to me.
With all the recent racist bullshit that has gotten media attention in the last year it’s important to remember and put a face on the long history of racist terrorism that has been perpetrated on people who don’t subscribe to the bullshit stain of white supremacy in the United States. Especially when it was within our midst. We must never forget and make sure the world never forgets either. I think it important that the LVHC scene own up to it's ignorant past.
I was never the biggest fan of the fourth of July. I make no secret of my disdain for the ugly side of American life. Although it mostly comes from the love of the America I think I know. The America I believe in. But the 4th has never been the same for me after all these years.
If you have any photos or other artifacts from the lives of these two men please contact me so that I may share them here. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I will include any photos sent to me below. Much thanks to Brandon Sledge, who was in the band Life of Lies with Spit, for sharing the photos below.
A photo of Spit from his senior year yearbook. He was voted Most Scatterbrained.
A video for Tribal Body Piercing, the place where Spit worked. I found this video a few days after writing this post.