The Dickies

Of course I’m gonna provide clips to go with this mediocre comic strip, I mean, what are we doing here?

It’s possible- nay, probable, that you’re wholly unaware of something called the “Punk Rock Episode” of an old show called Quincy M.E., starring Jack Klugman. If that’s true, I’m about to make your day.

You see, there once was a beloved character actor named Jack Klugman. He played irascible slob Oscar Madison on The Odd Couple, and was one of the 12 Angry Men. Because it was the 1970’s, and everyone was confused by quaaludes and amyl nitrite, Klugman was cast as a medical examiner, in a show so wonderfully fallacious it might as well be a post-ironic parody.

Quincy M.E. was a show whose opening credits feature a dour old man using a corpse to cause a row of uniformed policemen to faint one-by-one. This is interspersed with close-ups of the same sour-faced ogre, attentively pinching the arm of what we presume to be another moldering corpse, but is actually an ass-deficient young woman in a bikini reclining on a greasy houseboat. The homely old dude finally cracks a smile, and as the music descends into some eldritch Dixieland madness, he and the woman raise a toast.

Quincy kept his lunch in the same fridge with the dead people parts. This was entertainment.

The subliminal lyrics to the Quincy theme are as follows:

(No, don’t take it serious!)

(Now we’re on a houseboat, and I’m pinching this young lady on the arm…)


The realism of the average Quincy episode was on par with Gilligan’s Island. Any pot smoker of a certain age knows the show with the chemical that makes marijuana grow faster, but ends up killing a bunch of kids who smoke it. Subsequently, stoners tend to love Quincy, because holy living fuck is it hilarious stoned. Much of the program is centered around a guy who looks like Death and a buzzard birthed an adult baby ranting and muttering about “an innocent goil” who always seems to be named “Abigail”. At regular intervals it seems to actually forget it’s a TV show.

Anyway, in the early 1980’s, the tube embraced “punk rock” with the same warmth as “Dungeons & Dragons” and “Satanism”. Many programs dealt with the trend, to varying degrees of incompetence.

That’s Bernie “Doc” Kopell, and that kid didn’t go “punk”, he went “church” (as in, he’s a pastor with six kids).

In “Next Stop, Nowhere” from 1982, Quincy strolls into a “punk club” and demands the attention of the spiky, surly denizens from the stage. After pleading searchingly for any information pertaining to the whereabouts of an innocent goil named Abigail, he is soundly rebuffed by numerous young persons who are mistakable for neither punks nor actors. They utilize colorful slang like “crock”, “zombie killers”, “dog without a uniform”(?!?) and “lousy escape goat”. It must be fucking seen to be believed.

For some of our moms and grandmothers, this informed their image of punk rock. It all went about as well as you’d expect. I say this as someone with a scar from a mosh pit. I also have a roommate who came up on early punk, whereas I came up on hardcore. He used to actually slamdance, whereas I was an elbow-throwing mosher. The pits I entered in the 1990’s were generally indistinguishable from gang fights. Like, you had to know how to take (and dish out) a certain level of abuse. At a music show. Is that weird?

The Dickies guested on a sitcom called CPO Sharkey in 1978, which I never saw because a) I was too young, and b) it sucked. No one watched it. Here’s how badly it sucked; it managed to almost make legendary insult comic Don Rickles unfunny. And Rickles is one of the funniest human beings ever to draw breath.

The problem will be obvious to you in literally the first minute and a half of this video; Rickles didn’t write his dialogue. From the sound of it, some fifth grader with a jokebook and a PET computer did. Rickles has to mug to the point where it looks like he’s having a grand mal seizure, just to prop up the material.

In the pantheon of punk, The Dickies were among the sillier entrants; a sort of less-filthy Circle Jerks. They had a song about Gigantor. A lot of little brothers of punks were into them. It wouldn’t be unfair to call them a gateway into punk for youngins; the Green Day before Green Day.

Thanks to the wonderfulness of current-day YouTube (except for that whole censorship-based-on-politics thing), you can enjoy Killer Klowns From Outer Space, featuring music by The Dickies, for free! It’s actually sort of perfect for the Halloween season. I remember one of the Chiodo brothers saying that the inspiration for the film came while stopped at a red light beside a car driven by a clown, who very slowly turned to look at him. I don’t remember if there’s naked boobs in the movie or not, even though that’s roughly all I cared about during its long rotation on cable.

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