Please Kill Me and then go do some stuff

A few years ago, I picked up Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk on the used book shelf at the grocery store. We put it on our cinder block bookshelf next to our Star Wars books and our giant thesaurus, and whatever other books we have on display in our living room that we think make us look cool, but actually do the opposite.

Please Kill Me sitting on the shelf

Please Kill Me thinks it’s cooler than the other books on my shelf. Even the Star Wars ones.

For years, music books were among the few types of nonfiction that could hold my attention through a few hundred pages. One day, I picked up Please Kill Me on a whim and read a few pages. I remained hypnotized in its pages until I finished it.

There’s less about the music itself than I would like, and the focus is on a fairly small number of bands. Plenty of TMI moments as well. However, it stitches together direct quotes so seamlessly that sometimes it doesn’t feel like reading separate voices. And despite the overwhelming number of people whom I’d probably hate if I met them in real life, it really conveys the living community of the New York punk scene, and it makes me want to be there. It reminds me of how important community is.

I wanted to share this quote from Legs McNeil, one of the authors of Please Kill Me (from page 334):

“Overnight, punk had become as stupid as everything else. This wonderful vital force that was articulated by the music was really about corrupting every form—it was about advocating kids to not wait to be told what to do, but make life up for themselves, it was about trying to get people to use their imaginations again, it was about not being perfect, it was about saying it was okay to be amateurish and funny, that real creativity came out of making a mess, it was about working with what you got in front of you and turning everything embarrassing, awful, and stupid in your life to your advantage.”

At its best, punk wasn’t about studied coolness or meticulous safety-pinning. It was about doing shit. Kicking down doors. It was refusing to be stopped by roadblocks on the obvious path in front of you, roadblocks that say “you can’t go here,” and taking that DIY spirit and making your own road out of salvaged bricks and broken glass and a found bucket of tar*.

That quote reminds me to make my own damn artwork to hang in my apartment rather than to buy manufactured art from Target or someplace, and to make that artwork out of subjects and materials I like rather than worry about getting things a certain way. It’s better to do something creative and true than it is to make the place you live a poor copy of something in a magazine.

It reminds me of why I’m going to help make a new wooden table top for what used to be a glass deck table but, thanks to an incident** that qualifies as “embarrassing, awful, and stupid,” is currently just an empty frame sitting on a sad deck.

It reminds me to write the things that I write, and that the things I write usually have to start out as a mess.

It reminds me to experiment and do things and learn, because so, so many people do not do things, only consume them. It reminds me that the biggest difference between many of my bad days and my good ones is that I did real things on the good ones. I made life up for myself.


*You can tell I know a lot about making roads.
**We didn’t buy a base for our umbrella because we didn’t like any that the store had. We knew we needed to get one, but the umbrella didn’t blow away, which sort of caused an idea to creep into our heads—an idea that maybe we didn’t need a base after all. Sometimes, we left the umbrella open, though we knew not do this. But again, nothing tragic happened, and another idea crept into our heads—an idea that it’s probably not the end of the world if we leave the umbrella open sometimes. One day, we came home to find that our umbrella had nearly blown off the deck in a big gust of wind, and a pile of tempered glass pebbles sat underneath what used to be our table top. And we knew better.

It’s not Halloween yet, but here’s a story

It’s about six months until Halloween. Since I’m not really a glass half-full kind of person, I can’t help but notice that they are some of the absolute worst months to be standing between me and a chilly fall night lit by jack-o-lanterns.  My spellcheck wants me to change “jack-o-lanterns” to “storm-lanterns,” because it obviously hates Halloween.

I could use more Halloween now. If you, too, are parched for eerie happenings, check out Banshee, a flash fiction story about a punk band struggling to save their show when it’s upstaged by the wail of a real banshee.

Brought to you by the mind-mingling of various Halloween thoughts with the music of X-Ray Spex.

hanginthere

Ant Muzak

Searching for funny videos to watch on youtube, at some point I ended up typing in the names of things I like, followed by the word “parody.”

Adam Ant parody? Yes, as it turns out, there is!

The entire premise of this ten minute video is that Adam and his Ants go grocery shopping, in full period ensemble.

Since I posted an Adam and the Ants video in my entry last week, you might assume I have some sort of obsession with this band.

Adam and the Ants are sheer energy, awesome music with cheesy videos, featuring period ensemble and crazy theatrics.  Two drummers, one pirate shanty, and a front man charismatic enough to totally pull off a pointless white stripe across his nose.

Your assumption is correct.

The dandy highwayman

Back in olden days in Great Britain, you and your wealthy friends might be driving down the road in your olden days equivalent of a Porsche. Maybe talking about what sweet ride it is. “Oh man, gilded door edges, 8-spoke wheels and an 8-cylinder horse. Real improvement over the 1749 model…”

Suddenly, a rider gallops up to you, weapons drawn, and halts your carriage. “Stand and deliver, your money or your life.” And of course you hand over your money, except for the coins hidden in your stocking, and you protest as the highwayman insists on jewellery too, because your necklace is sentimental. And at last the highwayman is satisfied and gallops off into the sunset… to rob one more carriage of rich folk before calling it a night.

Typically, the whole thing went down something like this:

These days, you and your wealthy friends… ok, I I’m still working on those. These days, you and the pile of trash on the floor of the passenger side are driving down the road, when suddenly… cop. Maybe you see, but can’t slow down in time. You continue down the road, praying to Fharlanghn… but no, the cop car slips out of its sneaky hiding place on the side of a fish and chips joint, tracks you like a predatory animal, and then lights up like a seizure-rave of fireworks.

And you hand over your license and registration, except for that time when you’d paid for your new registration only a month before and hadn’t really gotten around to taking it out of that orange folder yet. And, if you’re unknowing in the ways of getting pulled over, possibly protest that you were on your way to a fire…oops that came out wrong. The cop doesn’t outright take your money or wear a costume that looks really good on Adam Ant, but the cop does give you a ticket which requires you to DELIVER YOUR MONEY. Just like what the highwayman said. Or sang.

It’s mostly tedium, answering questions about how fast you were going, sitting and waiting while the cop runs your information. No gun pointed at your head, no choice of delivering your money or your life. And yet… the cop does still carry a weapon, pull over your vehicle, and demand money.