WILLITS— Willits rock fans enjoyed a rare treat on November 12 at the Willits Community Center, a performance by cult classic punk rock band, Reagan Youth, who performed with other iconic punk legends. rock band such as San Francisco’s Dead Kennedys, New Jersey Misfits, New York Beastie Boys, and Washington DC Bad Brains, among other legendary outfits.
The group is led by founding member Paul Bakija (guitar / vocals) and Charlie Bonet, the original drummer. They were joined by Tibbie X on bass who is also a member of GASH, a Philadelphia-based punk band, and Neil P., an energetic singer who has mastered the art of punk theater. Bakija explained how the punk rock scene has changed by saying that children would never praise their parents like they do now and how parents now support their children’s music aspirations regardless of their musical tastes. “This is a good thing.” he said, adding that he was happy to see him. When he speaks you can tell he had a deep connection to his childhood friend Dave Rubinstein who founded the group with him. The two met when they were kids and grew up together during their middle and high school years while attending Forest Hills High School, which means a lot to the Ramones.
Bakija spoke about one of his fondest memories with Rubinstein, putting on a blonde wig and taking the stage to present The Dead Kennedys during a performance at the legendary CBGB music club in New York City.
Rubinstein committed suicide on July 3, 1993 after his girlfriend was murdered by Joel Rifkin, one of America’s most notorious serial killers. His mother was accidentally run over by his father and a few days later he voluntarily overdosed on heroin. According to Bakija, people described his former bandmate’s father as “Mr. Magoo” because that’s how bad he was behind the wheel. The suicide note written by Rubinstein was only read by a police officer before being handed over to a lawyer hired by Rubinstein’s father. Bakija said he wished he could read the letter in order to know what Rubinstein’s last words were.
They were going to form a new group called House of God. Rubinstein recorded two tracks before being severely beaten over a drug debt that left him in a coma.
His memories portray a sweet and bitter image of Rubinstein, an image filled with fond memories but interrupted by tragedy. Nonetheless, Bakija keeps Rubinstein’s memory alive by performing to show that her memory is more than a memory affected by tragedy, but a memory filled with yearning, brilliance, and love for music. The group continues to work on a final record in honor and memory of Rubinstein, with no release date set.