I remain totally Punk Rock
I was lucky enough to live in Southern California in the mid-80s, where I got to see some legendary punk bands – Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, Suicidal Tendencies, Circle Jerks, Pillsbury Hardcore – all the greats. I was there, up close and personal. At a Dead Kennedy’s show JelloBiafra jumped on my head. Cool. At a PiL show, Johnny Rotten (formerly of the Sex Pistols – do I really need to point that out?) threw a shoe into the crowd and it hit me in the chest. Sure, I had to push a few people out of the way in order to position myself for perfect shoe-to-chest impact, but still … it was like punk rock communion – Johnny Rotten hit me with a shoe! Seriously, what could be cooler than that?So it was with giddy nostalgia that I made my way to the Social Distortion show at the Belly Up last weekend. Social D is a classic old-school punk band, and they had just played Red Rocks the night before, so to see them in the intimate confines of the Belly Up promised to be quite a treat.There’s a certain phrase that I’ve always disliked. It goes something like this: “Yeah, but that was 20 years ago …” I’m trying hard to not let that phrase enter my vocabulary, due to its overtones of maturity. However, I do need to point out that I experienced my punk rock heyday in 1986, and it’s now 2006. This brings to mind another phrase I don’t much care for: “You do the math.” In this instance, I’d prefer that you refrain from doing the math.My point being: Over that difficult-to-calculate span of years, things have changed. It’s been a good little while since I’ve had my head jumped on or been assaulted with footwear. Still, deep down, I like to think that I’m just totally Punk Rock.So I walked into the gig eager to rekindle a bit of my post-adolescence. Social D took the stage to the sound of air-raid sirens. Down on the floor the tension was palpable, the sold-out crowd obviously ready to start the pushing and shoving punk rock ritual known as “moshing.” Of course, back in “my day,” (phrase I hate, number three) it wasn’t called “moshing,” it was called “slamming,” and it was done in the “pit.” But I won’t bore you with my purist digressions.Besides, there’s no time, because by the third song the pit was at full boil. I pushed a bit, I got pushed back. I shoved a bit, and got shoved back. Someone pushed me, someone shoved me, someone grabbed my ass. So be it.And it was just as fun as I remembered – barely controlled violence, pushing and shoving and flailing of arms – what I imagine rugby must be like, only without a ball or the goofy socks. And with a cool soundtrack. When the band launched into “Mommy’s Little Monster” I was so elated that I briefly considered doing something so incredibly un-Punk Rock that I’m embarrassed to have even thought of it – calling someone on my cell phone and holding it up to the band. Luckily, before I was able to follow through on this, someone’s fist hit me in the temple and brought me to my senses. Thanks, Dude. Punk Rock.I got shoved backward and slipped on the sweat-covered floor. I hit the ground hard, elbow first, while bodies stomped all around me. Pit etiquette prevailed and four pairs of hands grabbed me and stood me upright, shoving me back into the thick of it.By the end of the encore I was aching with pain, dripping with sweat and glowing with nostalgia. A perfect evening.The next day I woke up with a sore neck, a bruised hip and a swollen (broken, maybe? I can only hope!) elbow. I called my friend Allyn, who also spent the night in the pit, to brag about my Punk Badges of Courage.”Dude, I landed so hard on my elbow,” I boasted. “I seriously think it’s broken.””Yeah,” he countered. “I got a bloody nose about halfway through the show.”What the …? A bloody nose!? That is SO Punk Rock. Damn him!Barry Smith’s column runs in The Aspen Times on Mondays. His e-mail is barry@Irrelativity.com, and his very own Web page is at http://www.Irrelativity.com. Read more about just how Punk Rock Barry is on his blog, http://www.barrysmith.wordpress.com
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