Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Who's punk

Some nostalgic hack recently blogged that guys with beards are not "punk".
I suppose I shouldn't really care, because "punk" really is a dated form of music. It is, after all, now nearly a third of a century since punk was popular. To put it in perspective, it's halfway back in time to the age of zoot suits and Sinatra. Real punk grew out of the rage of industrial city Gen-Xers in England, people my age who, other than language, had nothing in common with me or anyone else in Canada, especially the sons of physicians and the other poseurs who took it up. I suspect it was just one of the billion ways that guys have, over the years, tried to attract women without having to cruise around in papa's car with a fifty dollar bill, looking for the sort of romance that leaves really unpleasant litter in the parking lot near my house. I took the easy route: mastery of card tricks, a knack for Byron-style poetry, and the successful encouragement of friends to call me "Tripod". But those are the old days. I've got a great wife, three kids and a van with a great sound system. Barney Rubble is not my double. Some of us grow older gracefully, some of us don't.
The question du jour: Are 46-year-old lobbyists for Waste Management Corp and the Ontario Funderal Directors Association the sort of people who, back in the 80s punk heyday, would have punk cred? Or would they have been given a shitkicking and a spit shower by real punks?
The world is full of very strange beasties, I must say. And many of them are very funny, in a Roman Colliseum kind of way.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

While I still remain a fan of Lydon, the Pistols and Public Image Ltd., Sinatra got a president elected. When it comes to true badasses, Frankie is 'da man.

And isn't it because of him we got the horse's head scene in the Godfather? Kind of kicks od'ing on heroin in the arse in terms of being anti-establishment.

Ottawa Watch said...

I still like some of the better punk bands, and the movie Syd and Nancy is a classic. I was a big fan of XTC back then, and some of the New Age bands like the Monks, but that was a long time ago. I couldn't really bring myself to go to the Who concert here this year. Townshend was the first real punk rocker. The Quadrophenia song "The Punk and the Godfather" really nailed the tempo of the times. Sitting in a crowd of sixty year olds watching Daltry and Townshend and whoever replaced Moon and Entwhistle would have generated an existential crisis.

Anonymous said...

I hear you on the whole still trying to live the life thing though. It's reminiscent of those folks in the MuchMoreMusic Retro ad that still look like Dee Snider, Prince or that dude from Flock of Seagulls. Trying to keep the punk flames alive is no different unless you are Green Day.

Middle class punkers have about as much street cred as Kevin Federline or the scores of suburban males that try to look like him. Everyone looks silly when they try to look like they are straight outta Compton OR London's East End....

Ottawa Watch said...

I went to a Who concert in 1975, and of the 60,000 people there, about 20,000 men and women were seriously trying to look like Townshend and Daltry. I doubt too many people strive for that these days.
I want to look like Gwen Stefani and take a shower with myself.

Anonymous said...

hahahahaha

You're a better and far more patient man than me then. I wouldn't be able to get past the first mirror I saw.

Anonymous said...

There was no "Canadian Punk Scene". There were loser private school boys with safety pins in their noses at the dinner table, trying to get attention from mummy.
Please, just name me ONE Canadian punk band. PLEASE.
Everyone knows Punk was a Brit thing and boys from Manitoba fall into the "you fucking wish" category, then and now. It's embarrassing to watch grown men talk about "punk". It really is.

Ottawa Watch said...

I know. It's really sad. Some people are just attention whores. Kinda like moths to a flame.

K-Dough said...

ummm, one Canadian punk band? Ok.

Forgotten Rebels.

Ottawa Watch said...

I don't remember them. I suppose Teenage Head was fairly well known. The Battered Wives and Wimpy and the Bloated Cows were known for their names, but made no contribution to music. Punk never really caught in in Toronto. I know, I was there. And it really was just an affectation anywhere else. The biggest hall any punk group ever played was, at best, the Masonic Temple. Toronto was caught up in the third British invasion, new wave, Canadian groups like Parachute Club, etc. A few tough bands -- Dead Kennesys, XTC, broke through, and XTC sold out Massey Hall (I was there) but it was because, in the latter case, because of a one-off breakthrough hit, and in the former, because the Dead Kennedys could play and Jello Biafra had notoriety from his obsecnity bust. There were a few "punks" at OCA but certainly not enough to even fill a high school gym. No radio station -- even campus ones in prime hours -- gave them the time of day.
Assholes like Nardwaur the Human Serviette and his group the Evaporators and Shit From Hell hang on to Punk to disguise their lack of basic musical skills. They are basically trying to do something -- anything -- to get people to watch them do something.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, k-dough. I'd forgotten the Forgotten Rebels.
I wonder why..

Tango said...

"Please, just name me ONE Canadian punk band."

DOA.

Original vancouver hardcore circa 1978. I wasn't born yet, but I hear they were the shit.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, DOA now gets associated with that band that is the pride of gender benders and plastic surgery addicts everywhere - Dead Or Alive...

Anonymous said...

SNFU

Asexuals



NOMEANSNO

Anonymous said...

[i]There was no "Canadian Punk Scene". There were loser private school boys with safety pins in their noses at the dinner table, trying to get attention from mummy.[/i]

Errr ... maybe now ... not in the 80s. If you were middle class in the 80s, you'd be a prep or perhaps a retro-stoner type. Punks were on welfare and smelled bad. It just wasn't a middle class thing until the very late 80s or early 90s.

[i]Please, just name me ONE Canadian punk band. PLEASE.[/i]

Take your pick! What kind of band are you looking for?

First wave late 70s bands? Subhumans (the Canadian Subhumans, who formed 2 years before the UK Subhumans)

Ones that were popular within the scene? You've got SNFU, Asexuals, etc.

Critically acclaimed/experimental? Nomeansno (now hailed as the progenitors of a music genre, "math rock").

Popular in the US? DOA, Dayglo Abortions. DOA is credited as being the progenitor of another genre, the first North American hardcore punk band.

Plus tons of minor local bands like the Discords etc.

[i]I suppose Teenage Head was fairly well known. The Battered Wives and Wimpy and the Bloated Cows were known for their names ... Punk never really caught in in Toronto ... The biggest hall any punk group ever played was, at best, the Masonic Temple ... There were a few "punks" at OCA but certainly not enough to even fill a high school gym. No radio station -- even campus ones in prime hours -- gave them the time of day.[/i]

In Ottawa in the mid 80s there were probably two to three thousand punk rockers, and there were much larger scenes in Toronto and especially Montreal and Vancouver. If you're looking for superstars with packed concert halls and platinum records, you're looking in the wrong genre, at least during that time period - punk liked being an unpopular fringe subculture by then, it was not a mass movement like the explosion in the UK (which had already ended before the close of the seventies) or a commercial genre as it is now.

Ottawa had some really good local bands too ... Grave Concern put on a great live show, Porcelain Forehead too.

Anonymous said...

Some nostalgic hack recently blogged that guys with beards are not "punk".

Oh yeah, I forgot to ask ... who is this idiot? G.G. Allen wasn't punk enough for him?!!???!