Welcome. Pretty much everything in this blog is going to reference something from my musical journey through life and my many misadventures. Like the web address. And the tag line. And the title to this first post. So go ahead and do some copying and pasting. What you find on the other side might just change your life too. They’re the reasons I live life as I do.
I never wanted to write a blog. I’m still not sure that I want to, but it’s what was recommended to me by my mentor and soon-to-be editor. When someone you trust and respect has achieved in life what you would one day like to – just take their fucking advice. I mean it. Sometimes you actually don’t know what’s best for you.
I’ve had much trepidation about writing this blog, however. I’m incredibly private and I don’t like talking about myself, but when you’re every-day life is stranger than fiction, people apparently want to hear about it. The world is rich with voyeurs. Our media viewing patterns are testament enough to that. The world is also a very fucked-up place. Truly. Undeniably. It is. Things are not copacetic, man. Not by a long shot. I didn’t really know if it would be a wise choice to introduce the world to my style of prose through what could easily spiral into personal, virulent tirades on the current state of affairs.
It’s fairly unavoidable; I realize this much. I’m unapologetic and I’m not easily derailed. “Search and Destroy” has been a motivating slogan for more than a couple of decades now…and I do search. I read…fervently. Knowledge is the only weaponry from which we can never be truly disarmed. I cross-reference. I dig. I dive. I research friends of friends of lovers of scholars of deviants of madmen who bedded loose and brilliant women who inspired movement-makers who changed the fucking world forever. I implore you to do the same. For your sanity. For your security. For your own well-being. Because everything you need to know now was thought up a very long time ago.
After much thought, I finally ascertained that there are some things I’m absolutely qualified to write about and that I believe not to be in the category of bitching about the world or whoring out my personal details: Women. Equality learned through growing up Punk Rock. And why I’m not a feminist. Now calm down. I’m pro-woman. I’m pro-femme. I’m pro fucking all of it. So, here’s the story…
I’m a huge fan of etymology, so much so, that sometimes I invent my own derivatives and reasons as to why things are as they are. To me, the “ist” in a word implies an action to be made. A movement. A cause. An “ist” person is actively making their feelings on a subject public by the use of protest, personal sacrifices, and all kinds of other extreme notions of physical employ. I’m not an “ist” person. I never have been. Mine is a method based on attraction rather than promotion. I prefer silently executing strong choices that will facilitate change. I cannot tolerate virtue signallers for this reason. I do not believe in talking about what I’m doing or why it’s so goddamn genuine. Humility is a practiced virtue. I remember being hounded to join the cheer squad when I was younger because word got out that I could do back flips. I also remember telling the coach, “Well, if the team is so good, why don’t they just win every game and prove it? What do they need cheerleaders for anyway?” I joined Art Club instead.
I also see it as counterproductive to publicly point out the fact that you are perceived as “lesser-than”. I mean, if it’s equality that you want, how wise is it to start with the argument that you know someone doesn’t think you’re good enough? That’s bullshit to me. You are fucking good enough, on every level, better even! Stop giving revolting bigots the pleasure of thinking you’ve ever once thought otherwise!
The reason that I think the world needs feminists, however, is because we all absorb information differently. Some of us are more intuitive and perceptive and can pick up on a small change in behavior and take it as a cue for progression. Others…well, others, I’ve noticed, may actually need an angry woman screaming in their face, ripping her tits out, calling her vagina by name, claiming her place in the world with the utmost conviction. Some people, far too many perhaps, are so immersed in their own worlds that extreme action is the only thing they’ll ever truly react to.
I grew up in the punk rock and skateboarding scene on the east coast. That ethos is still who I am. To my goddamn core. What I can say now is this – we never, ever, thought about gender roles or sexuality in that scene. Not in the late 80’s and early 90’s anyway. Having integrity is what got you respect, not what you had between your legs. No one talked about it. There was a strong female presence in the scene. A lot of important shit happened because of women so we were never really segregated against.
I met my first skateboarder when I was 11. Back then being a skateboarder equated to being punk rock in your attitude. There was no other skateboard scene then. We were outcasts. One hundred percent. It was not cool to ride a skateboard. One of the older skaters I knew always wore a Cramps ‘bad music for bad people’ t-shirt. I feel like it might have been the only shirt he owned. When he played The Cramps for me, my 12-year-old brain was instantly melted. And in love. The next year at school I got hold of a cassette from someone’s older brother that we knew and I heard Black Flag for the first time. I must’ve stolen that cassette, or dubbed it, because I remember playing that while doing the dishes with my older sister. We had to take turns with the radio and she played Paula Abdul and Milli Vanilli. Eardrum raping garbage.
I remember my dad looking really concerned upon walking into the kitchen, on one of my radio nights, because the intro to “I’ve heard it before” by Black Flag was playing. Those words had such a profound effect on my newly developing views. If you’re not familiar, Dez is defiantly lashing out, almost painfully so, with these words: “Don’t. Need. Authority! Authority Figures. Don’t need their shit! Don’t want it! Can’t stand it! Don’t need their bogus attitudes. Got enough of my own. Don’t need it! Authority Bullshit! Authority Bullshit! Authority Bullshit!”
We exchanged a glance I’ll never forget. The memory of it is in slow motion. His gaze grew limbs that metaphorically reached out for his little girl. His usual brand of sarcasm lifeless and absent. He couldn’t outwit this seminal happening that was taking shape before his very eyes. I was already far past arm’s length. I had found my voice. Black Flag changed my world forever.
Everyone I knew got into the scene in the same way, that’s why no one cared who you were, where you came from, who you wanted to sleep with, or kill, or both. We were all just weirdos. We commiserated. Some of us were gay and didn’t know it yet. We didn’t talk so much about it as much as we just experimented with it. I fucked men. I fucked women. I tried fucking both at the same time. We were all just trying to figure out who we were and we were doing it on our own terms. We didn’t have outside factors weighing in and telling us that we needed to “Identify” as anyone other than ourselves. If there were rules, we didn’t know about them, and we wouldn’t have followed them anyway. We made art, ‘zines, photographs, poetry. We record shopped. We vandalized. We ran away from home, denounced organized religion, and we questioned everything. We put on shows. We got high. Some of us died. A lot of us, actually. We DJ’d, formed bands, had radio shows and late-night public television time-slots. We skated. We escaped. We took vows of silence, traveled the world, traveled the El train. We wrote books and we got famous.
All we cared about, in regard to one another, was what you created and that you were humble about it. Punk rock is not this vicious maelstrom of adrenaline and violence that our parents saw it as. It was a movement created by free thinkers who, out of neccessity through their own will to survive, fed each other’s insatiable, self-expressive needs. And yeah we were angry, but who the hell isn’t at that age? We were honest with one another because we were tired of being lied to by the rest of the world. Maintaining integrity was (and still is) a non-negotiable point. Why should anything else matter? Seriously. I’m asking you that. Why does anything else matter?? It was brilliant and beautiful and something that I’ll never forget.
Jenny Lens, in her literary recount of what it was like photographing the Southern California punk scene of the 70’s and 80’s, published in the recently released book by Stacy Russo called, “We were going to change the world”, writes this: “If I ever forget how I got into punk, take me out and shoot me. That is the most important memory in my life. Like being born.” I felt the hair on the back of my neck electrify after reading that because the sheer gravity of her words could’ve come from my own pen. I’ve never known another movement to even graze the possibility of creating that type of life-long allegiance.
We were a generation of cathartic co-conspirators. We only had each other to talk to and we weren’t poisoned by the internet yet. Media has ruined punk rock as I once knew it. The core values of unity, resistance, having a moral obligation to all living things and this planet that we spin on, are lost. We were never about exclusion. It was all-inclusive. We didn’t belong anywhere else so we made our own family. We truly cared for one another. We protected each other. We still do. If I don’t interact with you, it’s definitely because I don’t respect your values. It’s not because I’m mean. I don’t know how to be mean. My biggest, superficial regret about growing up in the punk scene? I wish I was the bitch people expect me to be, because some people really fucking deserve it. But that’s just not me. I’ve got an army of people around the world to thank for that.