An Embarrassing Punk Rock Past

Earlier in the summer I received a gift from a good friend and fellow WUSC alumni, Lady Miss Gee, two comics written by Ariel Schrag, those documenting her freshman and sophomore years of high school, “Potential” and “Akward”, I believe. Ariel Schag grew up around the same time I did, in California, and she wrote some of the most accurate coming of age stories. They were laced with many of the same punk culture icons my friends and I were following on a different coast.

I was reading it all around the same time as the most recent Woodstock anniversary, and of course the public radio airwaves were playing to their demographic with interviews and documentaries about this one musical event that, for all it’s iconic power, was basically an apolitical exercise in turning youthful rebellion into money. For the most part, commentary was the sort of self-congratulatory crap I engaged in every week as host of Police and Thieves, the punk show. Most of those interviewed have gotten over the bad trips and moved on to cushy intellectual jobs, and, for the most part, all their fond memories of the event suggested to me that it would have been beyond shitty to have actually been there. The projected importance of the event, really, could be summed up in roughly a paragraph in any high school American history textbook.

I did, however, appreciate Dick Polman’s take on Woodstock, featured here: http://rocnow.com/article/opinion-syndicated-columns/2009908140362

In particular, his frank description of the futility of it all, “this notion that Woodstock was supposed to be more than a party, that it was supposed to define how a generation felt about itself, to crystallize its political and cultural potential. Looking back 40 years, Woodstock has managed only to inflate boomers’ expectations of themselves and, sadly, to amplify many of life’s inevitable disappointments.”

In the commentary he mentions the Abbie Hoffman incident, as if anyone needed another reason to think that the man who wrote “My Generation” was, in fact, one of the biggest asses of said generation. The generation who grew up to look the other way during the last ten years of scandal, the generation who quite literally couldn’t go more apeshit over shutting down Abu Ghraib if they were on LSD at the time that Katie Couric broke the news to them.  “Their generation” wanted the political protests to get the hell off the stage.

Which brings us back to the punk rock.  Hippies and punks, not so different.  Bob Dylan may have traded in his acoustic, but it was my generation that used those electric guitars as god intended- to make protest music as unlistenable as the protests themselves.  At this point, I still believe that better subcultures make better people.  Without didactic vegan hardcore I probably wouldn’t care where my groceries came from.  Without riot grrrl I probably wouldn’t know about minority empowerment.  Without punk, as a whole, I would not have any idea of how important it is to make our own media with our own message.

Maybe the more I age the more disappointment I will have in the complete inefficiency of the movement I associated with my youth.  I’m technically not out of that youth yet, but I like to think that I know how a real hippie, one who subscribed to the political aspect of the movement, feels when he or she walks into an American Eagle and sees empty symbols screenprinted on cotton spandex blends.  After all, the Hot Topic is three stores down.

Like a Rhinestone Cowboy

In what is one of the poetic responses to micro-management, I like to tell the story of a man who will remain anonymous, a former manager for Wal-Mart.  His district manager was walking him through the store, saying and doing the sort of total creep things that district managers all over the country do.   At one point, this unnamed man turned to that district manager and said, “You don’t own me.”

Completely classic.  It’s this attitude that I appreciate most in song, from Johnny Paycheck’s “Take This Job and Shove It” to Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” to Cub’s “Who the Hell Do You Think You Are” to, well, really anything ever recorded by Public Enemy.   I’m actually shocked that there aren’t more songs that fall along these lines, it seems like such a universal topic.

Your assignment is to find the song in your collection that meets these criteria.  And if you don’t have a song that meets these criteria, maybe you need to stir up some drama in your life in order to need these sorts of songs, because clearly something is lacking.

Why I Can’t Listen to Most Heavy Music.

I like to rock.  More than the average person.  But I have no patience for things like moronic hardcore boys who sing about destroying shit or moronic hardcore girls who have their myspace pictures with their hair dyed black and their breasts hanging out of their shirts.  I have no patience for unkempt facial hair and Nightmare Before Christmas hoodies.  I have no patience for fake rebellion in general.

You, whoever you are.  Fight this shit.  Say something.  Don’t waste the poor years of your life listening to or making music that says nothing about your real life.  This is just bad.  I miss punk rock so much I’d almost take another rap rock movement.

Man.

Kathleen Who?

Video from the epic Bake Sale of Columbia/A+Cake/Nick Nolte’s Peaches/Beat Crappening show is in the process of being youtubed.  Maybe it was just too much.

As this blog has become the Mother Stamper blog in the current absence of Police and Thieves the Punk Show, I bring you… Bake Sale of Columbia!

And for those that just can’t get enough of Bake Sale of Columbia’s hot summer jam ’08, Kathleen Who? (audio file)

“Hey Mr. Lion, Eat Me”

What does the typical college radio DJ have in common with a Christian with a mullet?  We HATE top 40 music.

Auto Pilot

As a reminder to pick this album up, Frida Hyvonen:

The Alamo

Heads up:  The Alamo?  No basement.  It’s true.  I saw this documentary about it starring Paul Ruebens.  Here is a song about that, if you’re not into the truly unlistenable, please don’t bother downloading.

the alamo

Also, Christmas brought many special surprises this year, but I’m most excited about this one:

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