In 1991, I met a pair of characters/partners in crime on South Beach who called themselves "Chuck Loose" and "Iggy Scam." They had embraced the "gutter punk" aesthetic described in the punk rock fanzine "Maximum Rock & Roll to the extent where they spent their waking hours figuring out ways to: eat without spending money (dumpster diving for pizza and donuts), play music without learning how to play (their germs-inspired punk band Chickenhead) and book shows without a club (convincing the punk rock dive The Junkyard to let them have the club rent-free).
After a year or so of these hijinks, Scam graduated to art without a gallery (The Vandalism Art Project) and self-publishing a handwritten fanzine called SCAM, which chronicled his lifestyle/career/art. Back then, you were either with Scam, or against Scam. If you were in a local punk band and dared to charge $5 instead of $3, or nothing - you were labelled a "corporate sellout." This was compounded if you played clubs that wouldn't book Chickenhead.
But to his credit, Scam managed to carve a no-rent version of Andy Warhol's factory out of a tightly-knit sect of bands and scenesters. In "SCAM: The First Four Issues," the anthology that Scam (who now goes by his given name, Erick Lyle) wil be reading from tonight at Sweat Records, he recounts recruiting friends and minions, some with real jobs and lives, to serve as "billboard liberation" co-conspirators. Much like Sub Pop's con of NME in the late 80s, where they flew in a press junket to report on a "scene" that barely existed and laid the foundation for Nirvana; Scam and Loose breathlessly reported their exploits in Maximum Rock & Roll "scene reports" and made enough waves/connections to get Chickenhead a US tour.
After Chickenhead broke up, Loose went on to form the Crumbs, and the punk rock collective Garageland before hitting his stride as arguably the most successful graphic artist in South Florida. His clients have included Seagrams and Trac Fone.
Scam/Lyle followed his heart to San Francisco and immersed himself in the fleabag motels and punk rock squats he had emulated in the Magic City. Many of his friends joined him, and formed their own miami ex-pat scene. Scam/Lyle continued writing, and as the punk zine scene faded - Scam became less of a punk music zine, and more of a kulture kamph against urban development and gentrification.
If recent podcasts are any indication, in addition to walks down dumpster dive alley, tonight's 8PM "Scam: The First Four Issues" reading at Sweat Records will likely include Lyle's take on Art Basel and an explanation as to why he loves and hates Miami equally. If we're lucky, someone will bring a guitar, a bottle of robitussin, a flask of md 20/20 and some no-doze to convince Lyle to play a Flipper cover while Loose reenacts the chest-hair inferno of 1992.