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Vi Subversa, RIP

February 20, 2016

Legendary punk performer Vi Subversa died today, aged 80. Vi fronted the equally legendary British punk group the Poison Girls, bringing an elder perspective to the turmoil of youth culture, anarchist politics, and do-it-yourself aesthetic of the British punk scene in the 1980’s and 90’s. Her lyrics and music clawed a multigenerational feminism from the bleak landscapes of late twentieth century capitalism, and she will be sorely missed. Here’s perhaps the single most powerful example of the Poison Girls’ patented mix of paranoia, desperation, and hopeless love in the face of total despair.

This is a message to Persons unknown
Persons in hiding, Persons unknown

Survival in silence, isn’t good enough no more
Keeping your mouth shut, head in the sand
Terrorists and saboteurs, each and every one of us
Hiding in shadows, Persons unknown

Hey there Mr. Average, you don’t exist you never did
Hiding in shadows, Persons unknown
Habits of hiding soon will be the death of us
Dying in secret from poisons unknown

This is a message to Persons unknown
Strangers and passers-by, Persons unknown
Turning a blind eye, hope to go unrecognized
Keeping your secrets, Persons unknown

Housewives and prostitutes, plumbers in boiler suits
Truants in coffee bars, who think you’re alone
Big men on building sites, sick men in dressing gowns
Agents in motor cars who never go home

Women in factories, one parent families
Women in purdah, Persons unknown
Wild girls and criminals, rotting in prison cells
Patients in corridors, Persons unknown

Statistics on balance sheets, numbered and rubber stamped
Blind and invisible, you’re lost in your homes
Liggers and layabouts, lovers on roundabouts
Wake up in the morning with Persons unknown

Accountants in nylon shirts, feminists in floral skirts
Nurses for when it hurts, Persons unknown
Astronauts and celibates, deejays and hypocrites
Liars and lunatics, Persons unknown

Hopefuls on football pools, teachers in empty schools
Kids into heroin not yet full grown
Typists and usherettes, black men who can’t forget
The lonely who long for Persons unknown

Closet idealists, bald headed realists
Rastas and bikers, the voice on the phone
Pimps and economists, royalty and communists
Rioters and pacifists, Persons unknown

Visionaries with colored hair, leather boys who just don’t care
Garter girls with time to spare, Persons unknown
Judges with prejudice, dissidents and anarchists
Policemen deal dirty tricks to Persons unknown

Strikers and pickets, collectors of tickets
Radical architects, the queen on her throne
Soldiers in uniform, sailors and stevedores
Beggars and bankers, Persons unknown

Football crowd hooligans, bunking off school again
Workers down tools again, United’s at home
Smokers with heart disease, cleaners of lavatories
The old with their memories, Persons unknown

Flesh and blood is who we are
Flesh and blood are what we are
Flesh and blood is who we are
Our cover is blown

AnarchismAnti-capitalismAnti-warFeminisms & GenderHistory

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