Sunday, July 15, 2007

Punk ain't dead

In spite of everything I said in our last installment, I left a few things out.

And, honestly, I've had my mind changed for me... just a bit.*

The most important thing I left out is the one thing that reconciles the fact that punk is about not fitting in with the requirement that punks have unity and purpose. That one thing is simple: humanity. Punk is about rage, rejection, and destruction, but not indiscriminately; it's about smashing everything that tries to make us other than human. It's about smashing everything that keeps some people down and artificially raises other up. It's about doing violence to any and every system, every status quo, that tries to deny that we are all human, by resorting to the one resource, the one means, that we all have. It's about not just removing, but throwing down and tearing apart artifice and dishonesty.

It's about reaching the greatest common denominator, whether society damn well likes it or not.

Good punk rock is like a drug -- not just a drug, but an amphetamine. It puts a hard, brilliant razor edge on one's world and perceptions. It fills you with pumping, angry energy, but also expands your perceptions, stretching them out so you can see patterns, structures within the world and the dynamics of humanity. It highlights in a cold blaze the faults and knots and dead-ends of what is, and makes you feel both overwhelmed and godlike at once, like you're dwarfed to insignificance by all the world -as you are - but, joined in incandescent fury with all your fellows, could topple empires with a mere touch in the right spot.

There is good punk rock out there. Submerged and subverted as it may be, punk isn't dead. Not dead; but smothering. Choked and weighted and clumsy under a heavy blanket of monoculture.

Don't just dress it, or listen to it, or wear it on your shirt. Think it. Feel it. Do it. Fight, before real punk goes under forever. Whether your taste is Anti-Flag or Bad Religion or NOFX or the Ramones, set aside tastes and styles and goddamn well smash some shit up.

And start the smashing with complacency.

* - Bad Religion's new album New Maps of Hell is nothing short of transcendent, no less than you'd expect from the champions of intellectual punk.