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Dogpiler's Candles: Part II
And so, we go on...The City-Wide Knucklers were a group of kids from Bay City who were into aggressive dogpiling. Normally no one would get hurt, but the knucklers sort of made it a point to make someone bleed after every dogpile. This got some coverage in the news and painted all dogpilers in a bad light, and I've gotta say that still to this day I hate these guys. Their band was ok, but it's my feeling that they were one of the reasons the scene came to an end. They took something innocent and turned it into something completely different- and to the media's eyes it was all the same. They called themselves knucklers because of the way they danced, knuckles on the groud. You can see an example of this in the graphics for their "Waxed Flame Holders".
Now we get to one of my favorite parts of this post. This is what I consider the pinnacle of the dogpiling movement. In early 1986 a mixed tape was made featuring most of the bands associated with the movement. It had songs by Jenny Jenny, Kazoo Two, The Knucklers, the Milk Duds, and Spades of Aces. It was sold for 4 dollars along with a waxed flame stick. It was put together by the group "Teenagers helping Teenagers help Themselves" (a group that I was a part of) and was hugely successful. These were the songs that were blasting on everyone's walkmans. These are the songs of my teenage years! Most of the songs were short, and really the only lyrics were "dogpile". At the concerts no one would mosh, no one would dance, everyone would just be dogpiling and lighting candles. This is how it was for us- it was amazing and great and I wish it could be like this again! The music was heavily influenced by Bruce Springsteen, Devo, Madonna, and the garage-rock revival going on in Detroit at the time. I've gotten some of the songs off from the cassette and made a myspace page for it. You can finally check it out here.
So- now that we've seen the pinnacle of this thing I think that it's time we saw how it ended. Like most things that teenagers and kids are into, adults try to copy and just get it all wrong. There were some grown men and women who saw the dogpiling, saw the money, and simply wanted in. Below is an example of this. His name was John Houston. He had a lot of money and flooded the street with his waxed flame sticks, oh wait, but he didn't call them waxed flame sticks, he didn't call them waxy fire rods- he called them "Lightable Dogpiler's Candles". The kids knew that this was beyond lame but adults bought these things up like crazy. Groups of accountants, businessmen, bankers, they started dogpiling in '86 and only used Houston's candles. The kids saw this and they saw that they got no credit- no respect- and started moving on to other things. He killed it- or wait, not quite, it gets worse.
Below is an image of Houston trying to sell his Dogpiler's candles to some kids at the school I used to go to.
The homeless population of Mid Michigan was embraced by the dogpilers- that is until they started selling scraps of candles for pennies, stealing business away from all of the groups that I mentioned. Below is an example of a typical "no homed candle" made by a guy in Saginaw named Mark. Although this had always gone on in one way or another- it wasn't until the Houston candles started coming out that it got out of control. It was simple- dogpiling was going down in popularity, there were more discarded candles, there was more material for the homeless to work with. Not their fault really- I would have done the same.
Are you depressed now? Saddened? Well now as promised it gets worse. Young executives and Yuppies invested a huge amount of money in taking over the already dying scene. They sold candles as "waxlamps" and even tried to take away the apparantly lowbrow name of dogpiling. They rebranded the scene as "Hound-Mounding". For us, it was both sad and funny to see these young professionals dogpile- oops I mean hound-mound on their lunch breaks, all dressed up in suits. I guess it just irked us that they never gave us any credit. I guess it irked us that when someone lit a candle on top of the pile or mound, they were lighting an executive candle, or a houston candle, and never something by Jenny Jenny or the Proud Teenage Businessmen.
Anyway, as you can guess by now the scene had completely died out with the area teenagers. And it's sad that the last of the dogpiling flame rods was made by none other than Dow Chemical. For about a week in the end of '86, Dow ran advertizements that said "Tired of poorly made flame sticks? Send them in to us and we'll replace it, for free, with one of our high quality professional-grade candles." Some of the yuppies did this, but none of the kids did. It was over. Done. Everything ends someday though, I guess I couldn't imagine all of us dogpiling and lighting for the rest of our lives! I have one of the Dow candles from my older brother (was a yuppy but now is a really great and talented guy) and like to light it every once and a while- not sure why. You can see that the Proud Teenage Businessmen have marked this poster in blue.
So that's it. That's the story as I remember it. I'm glad that I was as much of a collector back then as I still am today and kept all of this stuff. I have more- some posters and there are some other versions of the flame sticks. I just have to find them somewhere in my basement. Thanks so much for reading and please if you have anything to add to this leave a comment and I'll get in touch with you. And to all of you Jennys and Joes out there- NEVER STOP DOGPILING!
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