Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Punk is not Music - it's a way of life

I'm pretty punk rock.  I mean, honest to god punk, not these eyeliner and mascara pop punk kids who think punk rock involves shiny spiky belts and an earring.

No, I mean, I grew up punk in the way that purposeful physical bodily harm was considered awesome.  That there was value in poverty - the lifeblood of the country ran through the veins of the poor and disaffected.  For me, punk rock was an expression of how Americans could, and should, rally together in a single expression of unified angst towards the uneven playing field that was corporate and political America.

It was almost as if punk rock was like my very own communist revelation.  A socialist epiphany that I had when I was eleven that grew malignantly within me throughout my teenage years.

I started lining my wardrobe with punk tee shirts.  And while I was fairly proud of how many awesome tee shirts I had, they sometimes ended up in strange places when I grew up.  Like this:

Me and the Fam at Washington Square Park
and then there was this:

My wife and I on our first day of our Honeymoon
The first shirt is a Guttermouth shirt that has on the back of it a list that a police officer gave to the lead guy in the band when he was arrested.  The list is 10 things to do to stop being so punk rock.  One of them is "Don't Injure Yourself".  I always get a kick out of this shirt.

The second shirt is a Bad Religion shirt that has a picture of zombies on the back and the caption, "they'll go anywhere their president tells them to".  That went over really well in a military household.

I must have been fifteen when I bought these shirts, and full of misdirected, communist angst.  And now, the shirts have such a poignant nostalgia that I can't throw them out, but they're so out of place in my daily life that I'm not sure I can wear them anymore.

They're just not relevant these days.  I'm so much more concerned with the happiness that my family gives me that I'm not disaffected enough to really give anarchy and revolution a real honest second thought.  They were beautiful ideals as a sixteen year old kid, but for a family man with a mortgage?  A guy who is now PART of corporate America?  Does that make me a sell out?  Or does that make me a victim of the machine?  Or rather, does it just mean my priorities shifted from global anger and uprising to family-centric happiness?

It's amazing to wear these shirts now when I'm at the mall, and some fifteen year old kid will sport a "Rise Against" tee-shirt, or have a skull tattoo on his or her neck and a spider-web tattoo on their elbow (both of which I once upon a time wanted to get).  I'll be wearing my other Guttermouth shirt that says:

That person will sort of glance knowingly, and I'll look back with nostalgia.  Neither of us will make any real sign of acknowledgement, cause that wouldn't be punk.

But I wonder to myself what that person will end up thinking of their 15 or 16 year old self when they're a family man/woman with a mortgage.


  1. Do you read Negev Rock City? http://negevrockcity.com/

    Interesting in general, but he has punk nostalgia posts that made me think of you: http://negevrockcity.com/search/punk

  2. Dude, you are totally a victim. But it's ok because your kid is too darn cute.

  3. I loved LOVED being punk rock and am not at all mortified that I'm living in suburbia and am president of the fucking PTA. BUT! I do have my kick ass arm tattoo and . . . yeah, that's about it.


  4. Why do you wven care what those punks think? Caring about their opinion makes them the man and - really - damn the man

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