Note: Educating the community about lesser fascist apologist elements in local subculture scenes is not our usual focus, especially in this era of increased active fascist street violence, but we decided that this business and business owners warranted a small article as, soon, hopefully, folks will be able to get out and about and bands will play shows again. Preventing fascism from taking root is a historic lesson that antifascists should never forget.
Since 1995, Connie Dean Wallace and her partner, Frank Joseph Schaefer, have operated their “punk boutique,” Another State of Mind, now located at 3404 SE Hawthorne Blvd, in Southeast Portland. It is not known when they began casually selling clothing associated with fascist bands, but it has been some time. They have previously sold Death in June merchandise featuring the appalling Nazi Totenkopf image, a death’s head that was used by the Waffen-SS and other Nazi military units. A recent report, described below, was far from the first time that potential customers have questioned the shop’s distasteful merchandise. Its co-owners have had plenty of time to disavow this business practice, but they simply don’t care. Despite knowing better, they continue to hawk wares that normalize fascism within the local punk and metal scenes.
When Connie was asked why she was selling Burzum t-shirts, highlighting the item in the corner of her store, she stated “Punk has to be uncomfortable sometimes” and “The metal crowd likes them, so I’m going to keep selling them.”
Burzum, the band whose t-shirt is in question, is a fascist Norwegian black metal band that, like many others from their era and even now, appropriate pagan culture and twist that tradition into vile, hateful bullshit that attempts to hide in plain sight and normalize white nationalist views. Racism is rampant in the neofolk (from “neo volk,” an echo of Nazi Reich phrasing) and heavy metal/black metal scenes, and members of both scenes often cross over. Wallace is quite aware of nuances within these subcultures, and doesn’t mind making a quick buck from selling fascism.
Entryism, when fascists attempt to spread their ideology through inserting themselves into existing subcultural scenes, has been a scourge of Portland and many other cities since the 80s, when Nazi punks and boneheads (who call themselves skinheads but are just white nationalists) attempted to bully their way into punk and metal venues and menace anyone who didn’t fit their ideal of Aryan ancestry, or who might have been LGBTQIA. “Nazi skinheads“–really racist boneheads–were repelled by young, self-organized antiracists who beat them back through their bravery and determination.
Since the 80s and 90s, disgusting fascist and white supremacist elements have been repeatedly called out and stopped in their tracks thanks to the unity of the real, antifascist punk and skinhead scene. We at PNWAWC are proud to trace our roots back to Antiracist Action (ARA), an antiracist and antifascist current that came from these subcultural scenes. Since about 1990, ARA repelled racists and fascists when they have attempted to march, host meetings, bully non-white folks at shows, or even simply tried to claim turf and make their presence known through stickers or tags on the streets.
Connie and Frank fancy themselves old school punks that have a cool, edgy style. Actually their aesthetic is more mall punk/Hot Topic than anything else, but we digress. Anyway, apparently they haven’t learned how to be decent folks who refuse to enable fascism. Hopefully they change their ways and have some standards about what items they will stock at their store. We will keep you posted here.
To Connie, Frank, and all others who, whether passively or actively, let fascism take root in DIY punk and metal circles, we want to quote Dead Kennedys (whose shirts and patches they sell) “NAZI PUNKS FUCK OFF!” Punk isn’t capitalist, despite your shady interest in profiting from it. You can’t have it both ways–either it’s Crass, Conflict, and Dead Kennedys, or it’s bullshit Burzum. When you ride the fence you’re complicit with fascism.
PNWAWC is committed to letting everyone know who these scene profiteers are, so that all can make conscious decisions about which small businesses to support and which to avoid. Profiting from promoting fascism is any absolutely inexcusable. We encourage all Portlanders to boycott Another State of Mind and take their business elsewhere until Connie and Frank get the message that Portland won’t tolerate their enabling any longer and they stop carrying merch from fashy bands. You can also give them call at the store at (503) 224-8259 to let them know what you think.