Post Punk: A Reflection Upon My Own Stupidity and How Basically Nothing Has Changed
-or- Why I Quit Punk Rock
I was 16 and I fell in love. Hard. The music. The smell. The sweat. The bruises. The angst. The sheer defiance. The various needles I had punched into various places, (some of which ended up getting gross and infected and sent me to the hospital). All of it. I was in love.
I spent 12 or so years deeply entrenched in the punk scene. My hair has been every color of the rainbow, at one point I had about 11 piercings and I have a couple of tattoos , one that covers almost the entirety of my back. I have countless stupid band t-shirts, a wall full of ticket stubs and enough music on my iPod to last several weeks without hearing the same song twice. I get it.
When I was younger I remember very distinctly, being at shows and seeing a bunch of the older kids standing in the back, not one of them dancing, smiling or even seeming to enjoy themselves. ‘What’s their problem?’, I thought. I didn’t get it then, but now I do.
What lead me there was the music, kept me there were the ideals…or my perception of them, at least. Like many of us, I grew up in the 90′s, the era in which depression was most certainly en vogue. I was too young to really appreciate Kurt Cobain’s death but its cultural relevance stayed with me. Depression was not only cool, it was glamorous. Being jaded was somewhat of a virtue and being angry for the sake of being angry seemed pretty goddamn badass. I hated religion, which was easy because I spent my entire life up to that point in Catholic school. I hated the government  without really knowing anything about how it worked. How could I? I had never even paid taxes. I hated all those idiots who only wore brand name clothing even though I shopped exclusively at thrift stores, Hot Topic and the occasional dumpster. I hated for the sake of hating and …IT. WAS. AWESOME.
Everyone needs something to latch on to, especially when they’re young, creative and sort of confused. I can’t say much is different now, but I guess I have a bit more perspective. The whole punk rock ideal has always been there, sitting in the back of my mind regardless of where I have been in my life.
What is it exactly? I’m not even really sure. Some bullshit about being yourself (even though everyone pretty much looks the same) and some stuff about DIY (even though basically everything you buy at a craft store ends up costing just as much as if you would have bought it in a regular store) and there’s this whole notion of the revolution, which was something everyone loved to talk about but no one ever did anything with. We read a lot of Bukowski, Keroac and a bunch of obscure anarchist writers and never did a goddamn thing. There were a lot of really smart people who could never quite pull their shit together enough to start a movement or even a protest, but they sure where great at making you feel like an asshole if you weren’t vegan.
Admittedly, maybe I’m a little bitter, but my life is different now. I was and always will be in love with the music and the scene will always hold a special place in my heart. The camaraderie there is something I’ve always loved and I’ve met a lot of people who’ve exemplified punk’s ideals to it’s core…but at the end of the day I’m not a musician and never really have been.
I’m kind of a multi-purpose artist, (I’m a graphic designer by day and a comedian by night) so I’ve had the opportunity to work with a lot of great people. I’ve designed quite a few t-shirts, albums, stickers and various other items that I’ve always been stoked to find in a store or see someone wearing.  That being said, my work as a designer did cause me to have a negative experience that put the nail in the coffin of my punk days.
I’ve been lucky enough to meet a lot of my heroes and have actually been able to do work for a few of them. One of my friends hooked me up with a musician who’s band I had worshipped since I was in high school. They needed a new website and I was just the type person they were looking for. I was excited to meet him and even more excited to start designing. The initial meeting went well and I got started. I did a lot of work for them but they went on tour, never answered my emails, didn’t pay me for the work I did and ended up getting the website from someone else. One of my childhood heroes…blew…me…off. FUUUUUUCk.
At this point my involvement in the punk scene was minimal, (Comedy has a way of usurping all your free time.) but it still stung. The situation did make me realize something. Mostly, that I didn’t need punk anymore. I love the music, I love the scene, but fuck it. I’m my own person and I AM AWESOME.
At the end of the day I don’t really regret anything, although I did waste a lot of time dating idiots with horrible tattoos and spending a lot of time being angry when I really didn’t need to be. I’m still angry now, but it’s more sad and focused…and at this point at least I feel like I’ve earned it. Whatever area you go into, be it music, art/design or comedy, being an artist is fucking hard. It sucks most of the time, but it’s also really rewarding  and that’s why I and so many others, stick with it. Regardless what you go into, whether it be the arts or (gasp!) a normal job, the world is full of assholes. It’s up to you to sift out the good ones.
I still go to punk show sometimes but now I stand with the sad kids in the back. The most of the straight edge kids I knew aren’t straight edge anymore, most of the vegan kids I knew aren’t vegan anymore and the revolutionaries that preached so passionately sitting on barstools never started that revolution…but I think one of them might have a blog now.
At end of the day, I guess punk is about not giving a shit what about what anyone else thinks of you…but that also might just be adulthood. Either way, I think I made the right decision. (…but I probably should have just gone to a therapist).
1. I’d like to mention that I don’t regret any of my tattoos…OKAY, MOM?
2. I’m still frustrated with the government now, but it’s more like a “regardless of what happens I’m pretty sure none of this is actually going to change anything,” kind of way and not a “LETS TEAR DOWN THE MOTHERFUCKING ESTABLISHMENT!!!” kind of way.
3. The Revolution of Everyday Life, anyone?
4. You know what’s more awkward than walking up to someone at a punk show and drunkenly exclaiming “Hey! I designed your t-shirt!” and then having them staring at you blankly for a couple of minutes? Nothing.
5. …not monetarily.
6. Fuck it. Therapists are totally not punk rock.
7. Sorry this isn’t really a humor article, by the way. I was on an 11 hour train ride and a bunch of Xanex and this is just sort of what happened. No regrets!