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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

I Was a Punk Before You Were a Punk 

In a 3/13 gush-piece in the online Mic, "With one amazing quote, Pussy Riot sums up what every punk fan feels," staff writer Tom Barnes lauds the Russian group. (Though, joining trendy identity bloc disjuncture with sharism sensibility, he pronounces them a "feminist punk rock collective." To quote Chris Farley, "Well, la-di-frickin'-da!") 

Barnes notes that the band lectured to Pitchfork, in February: "A punk is someone who knows how to ask the world uncomfortable questions, and does everything possible to make sure the world can't cop out of answering those questions. A punk is a person who lives and breathes astonishment. Astonishing other people and yourself, as well -- that's what art is for us, and without art life can't exist. It would be too boring."

I lived through the 1970s punk blast, though as a long-distance fan, not an on-scene, onstage participant. Perhaps that accounts for my being here, when, sadly, so many others aren't.  I know CBGB's-era adherents sometimes held up differing definitions of punk. But the ones that have always rung truest to me are those that place the actual music, kicks, and humor before all else - before cultivated provocativeness, fashion-consciousness, Euro political stances, etc.

So, for a better definition of punk than the pretentious bannering spouted by Pussy Riot, let's consult an authority. 

The late and legendary Joey Ramone once declared to, "For me, punk is about real feelings. It's not about, 'Yeah, I am a punk, and I am angry.' That's a lot of crap. It's about loving the things that really matter: Passion, heart, and soul."

You may have noticed that Joey said nothing about challenging the world to answer uncomfortable questions, expressive arty musings, or astonishing anyone. 

See, Joey was a punk.

- DC Larson