A funny thing happened when I was in Melbourne a few weeks ago. I was in a popular culture store. A 40 something man buying things for my kids and thinking about buying illustration books and Judge Dredd tee-shirts for myself. Well Judge Dredd, Ted toys (with x rated phrases) Strontium Dog, and action figures.
In the end I didn’t buy anything for myself.
Paying for the stuff for my kids, the clerk took one look at my Circle Jerks shirt and smiled with a 1000 yard stare. ‘I haven’t seen that logo for a while’ he said, I grinned back ‘it’s a new one, I bought it on eBay last year, the one I had when I was 14 would be a little snug nowadays’ .
We launched into a quick conversation about how punk is a strange fashion now that hip hop and R’n’B artists are co-opting the clothes and the music is everywhere. He then told me about some awful rap star who got spotted in a spikey punk leather jacket, which had a Cro-Mags logo on the back and those jackets are being sold on Etsy from prices ranging from $400 to $7000. If you would like to buy a genuine punk rock leather jacket you can go here.
Total wow. I used to make those jackets myself with studded shoulders, painted panels, badges, spray paint and bleach marks. Turns out they are being sold for $7,000 at DNA designs in Seattle.
I walked out commenting to my wife that being a former punk is like a masonic secret society, now that we have grown up with real jobs and a cynical wit.
In a smile at a tee shirt it is understood between men
- That we survived being easy targets for police harassment. (no its ok officer I don’t mind being treated like a criminal even though I’m just fourteen , shorter than you and I’m sure if I was going to commit some real crime I wouldn’t be dressed like this at all, now would I?)
- The terror of a car stopping and four or five assholes getting out and beating the living crap out of you up over your Mohawk or Dr. Marten boots. And then as you get older the terror on their faces as you managed to crack a few heads with said boots and take out 3 of them until they gave up trying to save face.
- An obsession with records. Not any records but records released on Touch and Go, Alternative Tentacles, SST and Slash.
- Owning Damaged by Black Flag. Or not owning Damaged but buying My War because you couldn’t obtain Damaged and pretty much hating it.
- Girls were never going to like our 14 year old selves. So we hung out with boys and listened to Charged GBH and instinctively understood their sexist songs.
- Understanding CRASS but growing up to realise it was load of pompous middle class bollocks.
- Knowing what the Milano Mosh is. (and laughing as Ministry covered United Forces and having to find friends on Facebook who might also understand)
- Totally understanding that the Cro-Mags made the best hard core/metal cross over album with Age of Quarrel. Unless of course you think Life of Dreams by the Crumbsuckers was. Both stances are OK by me.
- Bad Brains.
- Knowing about arguing over what is and isn’t punk. Of course as you get older you don’t need to believe in anything and begin to understand that because there were no rules and it was essentially anarchy no one could be or couldn’t be punk. Except Good Charlotte because they truly suck dog balls.
- Buying all those records again that you sold, lost and missed out on eBay and Amazon.
- Buying DVDs of documentary’s about the Ramones, Circle Jerks, bad brains and Hard core Music because you can.
- Wanting to go up to kids wearing Ramones shirts and telling them about the time you saw them or met them (btw did I ever tell you about the time I met the Ramones) and then realising that you hated it when people did that to you by crapping on about Pete Townsend and the Who.
- Giving away CDs to friends then asking them 20 years later if they still have them and getting them back.
I met a bouncer at the Brisbane Hotel at an acoustic punk show. My third gig for the week, two hard core shows, one in Melbourne for Every time I Die and a Kiwi band on Wednesday then Joey Cape on Sunday. Good thing about being older is going to these gigs and being able to buy a shitload of beer for yourself or anyone around you. Downside getting knocked in the face by that stupid lawnmower starting dance the kids do these days.
Anyways the bouncer made a comment about my Cro-Mags shirt, when asking my son for his ID ‘I won’t ask you mate, anyone with a CroMags tee-shirt must be well over 20’ The punk rock masonic cult kicked in again. Conversation flowed and moved onto tattoos we decided we liked tattoos but getting you neck done was just dumb and those new totally tattooed hard core bands aren’t really hard core at all. It’s all just a pose.
Of course it is, because we know what is and isn’t punk from conversations we had nearly 30 years ago.