What, Punk? You Say It’s a Fashion?


“I challenge you to think. To use the mouth that you abuse with to create… IAMX/Music People

I have been reading a certain book for a month. When I got to this part:

“Overnight, punk had become as stupid as everything else. This wonderful vital force that was articulated by the music was really about corrupting every form–it was about advocating kids to not wait to be told what to do, but make up life for themselves, it was about trying to get people to use their imaginations again, it was about not being perfect, it was about saying it was OK to be amateurish and funny, that real creativity came out of making a mess, it was about working with what you got in front of you and turning everything embarrassing, awful, and stupid in your life to your advantage.”
–Legs McNeil in “Please Kill Me: the oral history of punk”

I mentally shouted, “YES!”

Yes, yes, yes.

I had an argument years ago with some of my old-school punk friends. They were telling me punk was about the clothes and that it died before I was born.

The FASHION of punk that was introduced to us via the news and the Sex Pistols before they split up, sure. Ok, so we still associate punk with patches and black clothes and certain bands.

But as I stated in a long-ago post, punk, to me, is an attitude, and always has been an attitude.

McNeil pretty much summed up the heart of my argument in that above quote.

Punk isn’t dead, unless you’re talking about the fashion statement meaning something. I don’t give a crap about fashion. (Look at me, I wear the same uniform of hoody and black jeans every day, even when I work at the library. Sure, I ogle expensive stuff I can’t afford but when it comes down to it, I shop goodwill. Clothes are too much work to acquire and accrue and juggle. Give me a black tank top, black jeans and black boots with a black hoody any day so I don’t have to make a choice. Plus, almost everyone looks good in black.)

What I give a crap about is access. Using music as a vehicle to change my lot. It’s a magical vessel. I invent something, it carries and attracts like minded folk. Together, we can make a dent in the way things are. It’s not about safety pins and Mohawks and Black Flag to me as much as it is about being authentic, being yourself.

It’s about me saying I won’t let anyone tell me it’s not valid to be a musician and a writer in this world when that is in a nutshell what I came here to get good at being. It’s the meaning I ascribe to my life. It’s a magic that without, I might as well shoot myself.

When I use the word punk, I mean stop telling me what to do and how to live and who to be. I mean autonomy. Having a valuable life that is filled with meaningful observation and touches others with similar views.

That’s punk.

I don’t care if you think it means just another carbon copy of a carbon copy of a carbon copy. Nothing new is under the sun in America, fashion wise. We already had the meat dress. We can’t go anywhere else. We’ve gone naked. So what.

It’s not about how you fucking dress.

It’s about who you are. What you do. What you use your precious time here to do. Are you going to be an automaton and smile and eat your pudding? Or are you gonna do what you, you specifically, can do to make this life meaningful and make the world a more bearable place. I’m not a nihilist. I believe in us. Fuck it. I do. So…

Who are you?

Be. It.

Don’t apologize. I’m taking the vehicle. It’s not a dead horse unless you think it is. I’m taking the vehicle and I’m driving her forward. Join me. Or not. You punk.

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