Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Punk Rock redux

Today I stumbled across a blog I had not read before, The Blue Boar, which is authored by Sean Dailey, Editor-in-Chief of Gilbert Magazine. What took me there was a post on Punk that hit me where I am currently at. This fall, as readers know, I have been intermittently re-visiting this interesting phenomenon from the mid-70s to early 80s. At 42, perhaps it is my own attenuated version of a mid-life crisis. Sean's reflection and comments on Punk are very insightful and worth reading by anyone, like myself, who came of age during the era and who was not only moved, but was informed and transformed by Punk. As odd as it may sound, Punk was very formational for me and in a largely positive manner. I was also deeply formed by reading a lot of George Orwell and not just Animal Farm and 1984- those too- but his essays, like A Hanging, which forever formed how I view the death penalty.

"Punk as a genre arose simultaneously in America and the UK, but there were distinct sub-genres and styles depending on where it came from. There was Los Angels punk (bands like X and the Vandals), New York punk (the Ramones) and London punk (the Clash and, of course, the Sex Pistols). Of course there were a lot more bands than these, and there were other regional outposts, such as Athens Georgia (home of the B-52’s), but these are the most recognizable examples. The American Midwest, particularly Chicago, Madison (yes, Madison), and Minneapolis also developed its own regional sound."

Being closer to the West Coast I am most conversant with the L.A. scene, which was quite large, and the S.F. scene via The Dead Kennedys. Everybody knows the U.K. bands Sean mentions. There were also Joy Division and, after Ian Curtis' death, New Order, as well as groups like Echo and the Bunnymen, etc., that led the transition from Punk to New Wave. I agree with what I think Sean implies, which would be something like New Wave, while a follow-on to Punk, was a commercialized and domesticated version of it to a large degree. Of course, there were exceptions who carried on the spirit, but never gained commerical traction. In addition to Penelope Spheeris' documentary of the L.A. Punk scene, The Decline of Western Civilization, there is the lesser known, but no less interesting film Athens, GA: Inside/Out.

There is an Advent tie-in to all this, which is best expressed by lyrics to REM's song from their album Document, an album that I literally wore out the cassette listening to the entire thing over-and-over, It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine): "To offer me solutions is to offer me alternatives and I decline/It's the end of the world as we know it/It's the end of the world as we know it/It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine".

Over on The People of St. Mary Magdalene, I have posted the events for this last week of Advent as well as the calendar for the Feast of the Nativity.

1 comment:

  1. Yo, Punky Brewster
    Just thought I'd say howdy since I'm actually on line with a real computer and not just my phone browser. Let me know when I can come by with the weissbrau.


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