A News Story By Benjamin Wachs
Life just isn’t fair to punk. The Dalai Lama has Dharamsala, the Pope has the Vatican, but “Pope of Punk” Dirk Dirksen doesn’t even get an alley – at least not yet.
Yesterday the Rules Committee put the idea of renaming Rowland Alley into “Dirk Dirksen Alley” off indefinitely.
Committee chairman Tom Ammiano will use the time to and find a compromise that will work for both local music impresarios who believe the legendary punk rock promoter who died in 2006 deserves … no, needs … his own memorial alley (just like Martin Luther King) and neighbors who, let’s face it, think that living on “Dirk Dirksen Alley” is going to make them sound like interns at an adult video store. ...
Ammiano’s office did not return repeated calls to talk about the issue.
The alley in question is by the site of the former punk clubs Mabuhay Garden and On Broadway, where Dirksen booked acts, so it’s an appropriate spot if ever there was one. But maybe it was appropriate for “Rowland,” too.
And hey, who exactly is (was?) Rowland? A quick investigation by SF Weekly Snitch Joe Eskenazi turned up nothing conclusive. His best guess is that it refers to pioneer gall Frances Rowland, who died in 1960 at the age of 97. But no one in City Hall was able to tell him conclusively.
Anybody out there know? We’d like to.
Whoever Rowland was, she (he?) had to be nicer than Dirksen, who was legendary for insulting his audiences and performers alike. Here’s my favorite, as quoted in his San Francisco Chronicle obituary:
"I'm sorry to see you're that easily pleased," he told the crowd at the end of one band's performance. "You should try and show some intelligence and sophistication and not just accept any slop that's thrown in your trough."
Words to live by.
Dirksen also worked with kids, helped a number of good causes, and was something of a cultural elder statesman in his Mission neighborhood. Whether all that gets him an alley in SF is anybody’s guess, but, he’d probably appreciate knowing that he can pull in a crowd for a public hearing, too.