Henry Rollins and Glenn Danzig joined me for my Sunday walk this past weekend.
Figuratively speaking, of course.
This resulted from my choosing for my “solitary Sunday walk” soundtrack, a mixed tape I’d previously made for my long distance friends entitled “Old Punk.” A mix that, it might surprise you to learn, is comprised solely of old punk tunes as sung by old punk bands. As such, the likes of Johnny Lydon, Sid Vicious, Iggy Pop and David Johansen were with me as well (shut up! David Johansen was so too punk!), all of them singing to me of some sort of rebellion or angst, and all while I traveled on my sunny suburbia way.
You see, at some point in time, the house that I bought, the house that I live in, had somehow snuck itself into the outskirts of suburbia. Not by much, but just enough. Enough to be within walking distance of the part “where the rich people live.” A land that is wholly unlike my little part of suburbia. A place where the houses that can be seen are larger than life, obnoxious, snooty and plunked onto parcels of land vast enough as to force for a new definition of the word “parcel”. The houses that can’t be seen are buried behind layers of mighty bushes, equally as snooty, though slightly less obnoxious. I walked past them briskly, keeping my heart rate up, as the denizens of early punk sang to me of how poisonous my chosen surroundings were.
Now the rich may happen to own the land I strode upon, but seeing as I was the only one outdoors, it was I who owned the sky. I who owned the day. The air was fresh, and Spring had finally arrived. After an almost non-existent winter, that was then followed by an intrusive and unexpected bit of summer in between. Why no one else (well, most no one else) was enjoying the fresh air was no longer a puzzlement to me, as this has been a noted and slowly increasing phenomenon for years now. This migration from the outdoors to the in. From the warm glow of the sun, the the cold harsh light of the screen. From the sweat of exercise to the bloat of inactivity. Of course, and in line with my normal digressionary standards, this little bitch session about the sloth-like nuance of modern suburbia has absolutely nothing at all to do with the larger bitch session at hand, so we’ll just sit it here for now, possibly picking it up again in a future post.
As to the larger bitch session at hand, what I was hoping to address was this. While I walked through all the finery and trappings of wealth, I was reminded steadily by bands such as Sham 69, The Dead Kennedys, Stiff Little Fingers and The Buzzcocks what a – well – what a sham the whole thing was. Is. OK, the Buzzcocks were actually singing about being orgasm addicts, but I thought it would be better if I didn’t share that little bit with you. A good song, but hardly one that could be seen as politically motivated. At any rate, while there was a time in my life when I would have been standing on the hoods of the fat cat SUV’s owned by these locals; shaking my weak fist mightily in the air in consolidation with these bands – and their rants – I found myself this time instead just walking happily along. Using the racing beat of each song to keep my speed up and my heart rate going. As I did, I realized that I had lost my bite. Or my fight. Or possibly a little bit of both. The rage that originally drew me to listen to, and enjoy, bands such as The Exploited and Charged G.B.H. had dissipated. The urge to change the world that I previously felt strongly enough as to align myself with bands like The Clash and The Jam had mellowed. Instead of seething in hatred at these houses of wealth – these false temples created in false praise to the (false) individual – I simply just walked on at a good clip, and enjoyed the brisk, free air instead. The air that belonged to almost only me.
So as Billy Bragg sang to me of which side I was on (shut up! Billy Bragg was so too punk!), I found myself answering him with a “neither.” As Fear screamed at me that we should start a war, I simply told them that I would much rather not. And when Burning Sensation once again informed me that “Pablo Picasso was never called an asshole,” I smiled the old smile that I’ve always smiled when I heard that song. But this time, it was much more out of a feeling of fond adieu than it was because I actually thought it was funny.
OK, it’s still kind of funny.
So have I given up? Have I given in? I don’t think it’s either, really. I’m hoping at least that it’s much more a case of I’ve grown up. The Anti-Nowhere League may hate people, but I can’t say that I do. Even IF there were far more dogs who looked me in the eye and introduced themselves, on my solitary Sunday journey, than there were dog owners who did the same. And The Circle Jerks may very well fear the day that the shit hits the fan. But not me. Not anymore at least. If it does, it will. Raging against it’s inevitability will do nothing more to stop it than ignoring it will. And Henry. Dear sweet Henry and the rest of the boys from Black Flag may jump up and down, demanding that we give them give them give them some more. But as for me, I’ve enough. Enough for now. I’ve me and mine, and we’re doing OK.
Now as the title implies, when I first started this post, I had thought that it would be Black Flag’s “Gimme Gimme Gimme” that was going to end it. A proper ditty, especially when trying to show off your punk rock pedigree. But in the final analysis – and ironically enough – it is actually The Damned who will be having the last say today. You see, whether they were being tongue in cheek or not – and I’m quite sure that they were – by the time I had finished my walk, all that I really had to say about the experience was that the locals could keep their parcels, as long as I had the sky. It made me glad to say it really had been a lovely day, and it’s OK.