Thursday, September 12, 2013

A punk rock story - Part I: Punk and the 21st century

Today, like every Thursday, I have been to the city center. I don't know about whatever country you live in, but in Germany, going to the city center means you will see punks. And I don't mean just guys with mohawks. Unwashed guys with mohawks. Drunk, unwashed guys with mohawks. Drunk, unwashed guys with mohawks begging for money. Drunk, unwashed guys with mohawks begging for money and blathering incoherent shit about Nazis.

Every time I go to the city center and witness that scene I am reminded of the fact that since my early teens I have sort of sworn an internal oath of allegiance to punk rock music and culture - I am thirty years old as I write this post, thirty-one in little over a month from now, and that oath is still a key cornerstone of my world view. And so, as I witness the scenes described in the first paragraph, I ask myself: Is this really what I signed up for?

There are so many things that have gone wrong with the punk scene since it came to existence three-and-a-half decades ago, and it moved so far away from its original intent and message that it is nothing but a sickening disgrace. So, right here, right now, let me take the opportunity this blog and its audience offers me to list a few of the things that have gone so terribly wrong in the past decades and led punk culture to something it never should have become.

  • The very first thing that comes to mind is the "uniform." What in the devil's name is going on in kids' heads when they go for the punk rock uniform? I am not the first to lament this. In fact, I was a mere toddler when Jello Biafra stated that if you are punk rock you should dress the way that really feels like it's you, that your attire should be a one-hundred-percent representation of your individual persona instead of some tribute to scene conformity. Did anyone listen to him? Of course not. So there the kids of today are, all with their neatly trimmed mohawks - dreadlocks optional but increasing in number - all dyed in various colours. The same studded leather jackets, the same boots with the same red or red-white shoelaces (there's a whole set of rules about which shoelaces mean what, it's ludicrous), the same stone-washed spandex jeans held up by the same studded belts. There is no individuality, no expression of one's persona, one either conforms to today's punk scene's standards or one is not considered a true punk by one's peers. My advice: Listen to ol' Jello and let the clone army be fucked.
  • Sometimes there's nothing like the good old being drunk in public. It can be a liberating experience and gives one a unique insight into how society deals with what it doesn't want to deal with. And it makes a statement: Be asocial,  give society the middle finger, shake things up by making people uncomfortable and question the idyllic world they are force-fed by the media.  In fact, make it an event. Put some thought and planning into it. Choose your most provocative clothes (personally I like my Cannibal Corpse - Butchered at Birth backpatch with the baby skeleton for such occasions), plan a route with stops to cover and mischief to do. This is an important act of rebellion. Here's what you DON'T do however: Don't just go to the city and get drunk (or in reverse order).  For the sake of being drunk. And just hang around like a junkie. That is NOT an act of rebellion, that's an act of being a worthless piece of shit. Rule of thumb is to stick to once every few weeks. Doesn't mean you can't get drunk the rest of the time, just keep the drinking in the city center to special occasions, and only when you're in a good and mischievous mood. No one needs junked-up bums. That's not punk rock.*
  • Continuing with that sentiment, what the hell is up with the begging? That's lame. Punk rock is supposed to be about freedom and independence, and how the hell are you free or independent if you have to rely on the good will of the very broomstick-up-their-arses uptight citizens that you wanted to rebel against when you got into the punk thing? In almost every country in which punk culture is a thing there are ways to either get money to buy what you need (in fact in most of Europe you get free money from the taxpayer), or get food and drinks to get you through the month through various methods, be it the more asocial practice of dumpster diving (no shame in that, food that isn't eaten is a waste) or the more sexy practice of, you know, going to unguarded farmlands or even sexier, the forest, to gather your own food. As for booze, all you need to do is get your hands on some fruit, get online and google "prison hooch" and you can make your own wine. Tastes horrendous but 1) it gets you drunk and 2) isn't it awesome to drink your own creation? Be independent, that's my point. If you need money, here in the Western world there are so many opportunities to earn your fare if you're creative, and if you can't get any money do what I described above to at least feed yourself. Just DON'T FUCKING BEG!!!
  •  To conclude my little preliminary list... I'm sure I will think of more and make a second post about the new things I thought of. Anyway, there's one more thing that bothers me: It's that shit about Nazis. Sure, I don't approve of neo-Nazism as much as the next guy, but is it really that much of a thing to throw daily fits about? Here in Germany, the biggest neo-Nazi party, the NPD, reached about 1.5% of the votes in the last election. You know how often I see Nazi skinheads? Maybe twice a year. You know how many times I read in the newspaper about Nazis beating up foreigners? I can't even remember the last time. Sure, it's more common in other places, but it is still such a fringe phenomenon that it doesn't affect the lives of at least 99% of all people. And that's your big fucking cause that you devote all your energy to? George W. Bush is alive, and you fight a bunch of hooligans with no influence whatsoever? Banks are fixing the prices of just about anything and rip off every citizen of this planet, and you fight a bunch of holligans with no influence whatsoever? People starve by the million, many of them children, and you are fighting hooligans? The planet is heating up, causing devastating droughts in poor countries and extreme weather in most parts of the world, both killing thousands or tens of thousands, and who do you fight? How many species of animals have died in the last one hundred years again as a result of human action or inaction? And you? Dicking around with Nazis. Seriously, that's a load of bull. And why is it done? All because it was a leftist pet cause of the 1980s and the punk scene never woke up to the fact that there are so many so much bigger wars to fight.
So, as I returned from today's trip to the city center and being appalled by what I see as punk rock being in the shittiest shape it has ever been, these were the first four things I thought of that I see as having gone wrong in the development of punk culture and need to be addressed and fixed. Let us start working together here to get punk rock back into shape as the proud and relentlessly vicious culture it had the potential of being from the start. Stop the idiocy the scene is infected with and come back stronger than ever!

* In case anyone noticed the little asterisk at the end of the fifth paragraph I'd just like to add one thing: If you do heroin, fuck off and I hope you die.

1 comment:

  1. Write more! I'd like to read your blog. So are you the mastermind behind Alpha Drone?