Tag Archives: punk rock

A definition of punk

You know how you can tell if it’s REAL punk music? And not stadium punk, pop-punk or some other homogenized derivative? Real punk draws you into thinking and reacting to the world personally, as an individual. Not as one of the lighter-lifting masses, but as a unique voice of dissent. You may be singing the same lyrics as the person next to you, but you’re separately digesting their meaning.

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Other Colors Besides Black

I often wondered, when I was a goth
(did we have that name back in ’85?)
about the downward spiral of the world;
and contemplated shadows, where I thought

the secrets of the universe were kept.
From chiaroscuro, I firmly believed,
a balance quite long-lost could be restored.
But just how deep I thought, I question now;

it could be I was restless, young and bored
with trying to achieve so-called success,
and plotted revolutions in my mind
that would require no real degree of work.

With who I used to be, I’d like to share
a lesson learned from twenty shadowed years:
there are so many colors besides black;
the only limits are imagined ones.

05 AUG 2009

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Blast from the past …

Thoroughly enjoying listening San Pedro’s own Minutemen. Haven’t listened to D, Mike and George since, well, since the 80s in San Pedro, remembering how cool it was for punk intellectuals when the skinheads weren’t around.

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Not my favorite bands of all time, but …

Even though they’re not necessarily my “favorite bands of all time” there is certain music I’ll never turn off if it comes up in rotation (on the radio, on a random play through my collection, on internet sites, in a friend’s car, wherever). Because for whatever reason, their music is infinitely interesting to me. I’ve discovered that this music, with the exception of the Beatles or Lou Reed (who I’ll listen to anytime), is largely alternative-goth-post punk oriented, strangely enough. Well, maybe not so strangely. The greatest band (in terms of the enjoyment and creative juice I got from it) I ever played in was a post-punk LA band called Faith Assembly. So maybe the music I listened to extensively during that period still resonates strongly with me:

Gang of Four

Joy Division

The Cure

Love and Rockets (including Tones on Tail, David J and Bauhaus)

Cocteau Twins

and let’s not forget:

The Damned

The Chameleons UK

New Order

The Jazz Butcher

Christian Death

Siouxsie and the Banshees



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At the bookstore

At the bookstore yesterday
two young punks with their parents
came in as I was going out;
they were festooned with spiky hair,
spiked bracelets and Doc Martens,
and t-shirts both bleached clean and pressed,
brand new, although the bold design
I’d seen — in fact, I’d worn myself
some twenty years before.
I didn’t have the heart to stop
and tell these kids something I’m sure
they would have heard with disbelief:
that I had heard of Minor Threat —
in fact, I’d hung out with Ian M;
a past member of Iron Cross
had been my roommate for a while;
the guys from All still had my Kustom amp;
and I’d lived, for a couple months,
on Henry Rollins’ furniture.
Hell, I’d even toyed with the notion
of playing in East Bay Ray’s new band,
after the Kennedys expired.

When I was a punk, Bauhaus
was still more than a t-shirt collection.

But these guys didn’t want to hear that,
I know.

Nobody wants to think their revolution
is recycled.

4 AUG 2005

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Patti Smith

I will blaspheme to instruct
if those still listening can hear:
the pretense of this world is fucked
beyond repair; that much is clear.

I will replay classic moments
in a whirl of light and sound;
relive near death’s self-wrought torment
in my history’s chains, bound.

I will speak in words, in whispers
of potential still untapped
while you burn away to blisters
where our skins’ touch overlaps.

I will surrender to my vision
and in sonic sculpture rend
epiphanies to indecision
blank postcards I’ve yet to send

I will build a church to reason
in the metaphor of lies
so that thinking is not treason
and its lack, no alibi

I will lose myself in speaking
out against the endless wind
while the freaks go right on freaking
mindless of the world they’re in

I will curse the world’s foundation
built upon the backs of slaves
and in worship of sensation
find my own soul, free and brave.

17 JUN 2004

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Give Me That Old School Religion, Part 1

WHAT: Patti Smith and Her Band
WHEN: Tuesday, June 15, 2004
WHERE: House of Blues, New Orleans

OK, so the impetus to see Patti Smith came about with relatively no warning, little advance notice. I was minding my own business, returning home from dropping my daughter off at summer Driving School, and listening to WWOZ which is one of the benefits of living in New Orleans (although you can now access this listener-supported station anywhere in the world, thanks to the Internet) – a jazz and heritage Music station that plays the Music of its own geographic location (as opposed, I guess, to college radio stations that depending on where you live, may or may not have much local original Music to support).

It was the tail-end of the first afternoon show, and I caught part of an interview in progress. The voice of the person being interviewed and what she was saying I immediately recognized as Patti Smith. Well, it wouldn’t have been hard to guess. There are, unfortunately, too few women in Music who are willing to pontificate on the philosophical and political implications of corporate America and its ultimate affect on the viability and substance of rock and roll. There aren’t very many men who talk that way, either. Maybe Lou Reed. To make a long story somewhat shorter, one of the things that Patti was passionately describing was that rock and roll belongs to the people, not to the corporations, and it’s about time we took it back. She wondered about the marketing of pop stars as punk icons, and also compared the corporate control of the major airwaves to a government administration that had not been elected. OK, so she and I agree politically on a great number of things.

It was not hard to convince stardances and her best friend of 25 years (whose birthday we needed something for, anyway), who came of age during the late 70s and like me knew who Patti Smith WAS, that it was essential that we attend the show.

Cut to the bar, prior to the show. The bartender (a young woman probably in her mid-20s) asked us (because, I guess, we looked like we would know), “There’s Patti Smith and Patty Smythe. Are they the same?” This is, mind you, a bartender at the House of Blues.

Short Explanation: Patty Smythe, 80s. Patti Smith, 70s. Patti Smith not married to John McEnroe. Patty Smythe probably doesn’t know Lou Reed. Patti Smith came first. Patti Smith would probably never duet with Don Henley. And so on. Of course, we knew enough to set her and the barbacks straight on the issues. LOL.

The stage room at the House of Blues is a great size to see a three to five piece band. You can get close enough (in fact, without too much trouble you can kiss the stage) to see everything clearly, to make eye contact. But there is enough back area by the bar to get some air, and the balcony affords a view of the throng from the safety of some distance. The House of Blues itself is at times, however, a bit creepy. There’s a preoccupation with death; a lot of RIPs, tombstone-like relief lighting, combination kitsch-revival sloganeering, and the underlying presence of religion gone awry. The combination of voodoo and hoodoo, but both given a Hollywood veneer, ya know. But the way they have it set up, you enter down an “alley” and step down into the club.

I can liken the show itself to a religious service, particularly given the intro provided by walking through the HOB to the stage room. Prior to the first number (there was no opening act), there was a pretty constant mid-level hum of chatter, laughter, meet-and-greet conversation. In the pre-curtain minutes, you could see that there were distinct crowd clusters in the audience:

First, the folks that had been Patti Smith fans since Patti Smith became Patti Smith. The older set, the ones who were former punks, now grown up along with Patti. These were of both sexes, and could be distinguished by the fact that they, unlike most of the rest of the audience, actually were dancing. These you could associate with the people at church who are there to hear the sermon and apply it directly, at that moment, to their lives.

Second, the folks that had been converted to their current politico-social framework as a result of Patti Smith. This is not the same as the first group, in that the first group ALREADY were converted when they encountered Patti Smith. They worshipped, so to speak, Patti’s gods; whereas the Patti converts worship Patti. Of course, these can be easily identified by the intense expressions on their faces as they strain to hear every single word that drips, drawls, screams, croons, or whispers from Patti’s mouth. These people DO NOT dance. They are seemingly non-affected by the medium in which the message is delivered, and show concern only the for the message (which is, of course, only half the message, and some would argue the less important half). These you could associate with the front row pew sitters who follow along in their highlighter-stained Bibles, know exactly when to shout “Amen” and somehow every week fail to appreciate that the sermon provides direct insight into the condition of their souls, and not just the poor folk back in the rear of the church.

Third, the folks that understand that to be considered alternative, one must be seen at a Patti Smith concert. I will not comment on this lot. These are the people who go to church to get a date.

Fourth, the significant others of the second and third groups. These are the people that end up as the dates or life partners of “religious” church attendees, who find the attitude of constant self-righteousness a little over the top, but basically are too busy or cowardly to make much of a stink about it. Besides, they enjoy the barbeque pork picnics and other social aspects, so long as they don’t turn into crusades to convert the surrounding picnic areas.

Fifth, those folks obviously not interested in whether Patti Smith or Patty Smythe were playing, as long as they were allowed to enter the club and party at the House of Blues, drinking copious amounts of alchocol, seeing and being seen. These are the people who attend church simply for the free food and drink. Doesn’t matter what’s on the table, or what kind of sermon they have to sit through to get it.

Sufficed to say, the best time was really to be had by group one; of which, our party of three was a member. It was obvious that these crowd cells would gravitate towards each other.

I’m tired of writing this already, and the show hasn’t even started yet. LOL. More later.

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