I totally agree, and actually that was a major argument in my master's thesis, except with the twist that it was a transnational community of like-minded kids. There was an honest to god alternative (I hate to use that word, but there it is) network of community that kept punk afloat and the majors didn't have any interest in until the 90s, when they saw how well punk and post-punk (widely defined) had done in the 80s, via their own labels and media outlets (college radio and the numerous zines that sprang up).
I remember in HS (since I lived in a small town in the south) it was slightly after I got out of HS that the alternative craze hit our town widely. Back when I was in HS, it was all the weirdos from around town who would hang out in the downtown area and all the normal kids cruised hamburger row or went to football/basketball games, or whatever. By the time I got out HS in 95, the next year, downtown would have tons of kids, who previously had no interest in underground music, now invading our spaces, cause suddenly, it was all cool. But very similar experiences to yours.
There is a small group of scholars, all of whom are punk rockers, who recently wrote or are writing their dissertations on various aspects of punk. Dewar MacLeod wrote on the LA punk scene and it was recently published as a book--Kids of the Black Hole. Hopefully, Montgomery Wolf will publish hers soon. It was more a generally history of American, spacially speaking. I know there are people writing on LA and Colombia, Germany, and I wrote on LA and Yugoslavia (which wil probably make it into my dissertation somehow). I'd guess most of this is going to start coming out in the next 5 years. Oh, and Alex Ogg, a journalist in the UK who writes on punk and hip-hop helps to publish a punk/post-punk journal, too.