The infamous debate: Is Punk Dead? Vote below, and tell us what you believe!
I truly believe that Punk cannot die. It’s not any one certain band, a haircut you get, clothes that you wear, or a title – people and their titles… It’s a right of passage, a rebellion for some, a calling for others, a family for outcasts for even more.
Born in 1974, I was your average 80’s kid. I first engaged in the alternative scene in 1986 at the seemingly typical age of 12. Bands like The Cure playing sorrowful melodies, and Depeche Mode with entrancing dance beats, were taking over the airwaves. The second wave of Punk Rock was pouring into everybody’s living room as New Wave dominated the Top 40 radio chart. I couldn’t ignore the change happening inside of me.
Like many x-gen kids, my parents divorced, adults seemed clueless, and I was headed nowhere fast – another product of an ignorant society. I succumbed to the comforting caress of the haunting undertones of Echo and the Bunnymen, The Smiths, and New Order. Bands like these made misery beautiful, acceptable, inspiring me to leave the life I knew behind, just another broken home, to find another family amongst the rest of the kids on the street. I traded my bright fluorescent polka dots and paisley printed preppy clothes for black Goth band tees and skinny jeans, before Goth had a “name” and when skinny jeans were just jeans pegged super tight with safety pins.
I fled the constraints of mainstream to feel again, or stop feeling at all. I wanted, needed to escape the hollowness I felt. I spent my days with my fast-forming band of misfits begging for change to buy the $1.07 heaping plates of fried rice at the food court in the mall – and that would feed thee of us – then off to talk some “old” guy into buying us a bottle of Thunderbird before we headed to the park. My nights ran together like acid trails swaying to the sound of the beat of Bizarre Love Triangle in the dance clubs, before the coined term club kid, and partying until I crashed hopefully ending up on a friend’s couch and not a warehouse or one of those cement tubes in some kindergarten school playground. But somehow that was better than the emptiness screaming silently in the halls of the house with a broken heart that I used to call my home.
After awhile I found I’d hardened inside. I was done wallowing in despair, or rather running in circles around the stench of a rotting family, holding my breath. I’d outgrown the whining of Morrissey or Robert Smith chiming in my ear about however far I go I will always love you bullshit, and the fast, unrefined power of Punk Rock music lit that a fire inside me. Once again, I was drawn like a moth to the flame, but this was more like a Molotov Cocktail had been thrown at me. Bands like The Exploited, GBH, and Minor Threat helped me shed another layer of skin unleashing what darkness consumed me. No more tears – I was hardcore! I was a Punk.
I was young, I was free, and I was me. I found an identity during my metamorphoses and I loved it. Punk was funny, raw, unrefined – Anarchy. I added color to my wardrobe, and expression to my step. Fishnets, docs, and mini skirts. Do it yourself (DIY) was the only way, not a tutorial on some website – what the hell was a website anyway? I didn’t live in New York, and my parents weren’t rich. We went to town with scissors and sewing needles, safety pins and studs. I was lucky enough to get a pair of green Doc Martens passed to me by a friend, my dad bought me a leather jacket from an Army Surplus store, and my mom got me some creepers for Christmas.
We were a force to be reckoned. Now we spent your spare change on Coors Party Balls, and Punk shows. I saw Capital Punishment, Dr. Know, Aggression from inside the mosh pit. Life was all about sex, beer, and Punk Rock! Someone always knew someone with a car who was ready for a road trip, and I got to see one of the last gigs the Ramones played, all of them, in Santa Cruz, Ca. Life as a young Punk on the streets was definitely an experience. We didn’t care whether we were accepted, and there was no shortage of ridicule or wicked stares, but nothing was going to hold us down! No repression, this was our rebellion against everyone and everything. Conforming was not even a concept.
Now, many years later, I am still here and still part of what seems to be the tail end of maybe the 4th or 5th arising of the Punk Rock movement since it originated in the 70’s. Punk dies down, goes “underground”, and flares back up onto main street (not mainstream) with every new generation, and with every new pack there is the infamous debate: Punk Is Dead / Punk’s Not Dead. I believe the latter. What do you believe?
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