I denied having a punk past for a long time. Yeah, I know, I was "Punk Walrus" in the late 1980s, but honestly, I didn't do that so much for a "yeah, I was a badass back in the day," because my punk past was very short, and had a bad ending, so by the time I reached high school, I stopped wearing black and despised the posers and the real thing alike. Okay, not the real thing.
I think it was in 1984, whenever "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai" hit the big screen. The sci-fi club decided not only to go, but to go "in style," which meant dressing in clothes we found from a thrift store; the tackier, the better. My goal trying to get stevonwolf more active with my friends socially (it never worked, why the hell were you so shy, Steve?), so I convinced him to dress up as well. We all met at Springfield Mall, which was not the white, airy, sterile place many youth know today. No no, it was a darker, more urban place with a lot of cluttered discount stores, stormy youth, and reminds one of the kids of malls one sees in Detroit. "Darkened stream bed" seemed to the theme of that mall, with it's dark pebbly decor, artificial plants, and shady hideaways one could score some... well, recreational herbs and pharmaceuticals. I had not been there since my short punk youth with the community DQ crowd, which was two years in a sealed past.
So there I was with stevonwolf, dressed all weird, and suddenly a huge flock of the post new wave punks ambled past. Flickering memories cracked from the deep recesses and scuttled across my brain, and one thought surfaced about how the dress had evolved and seemed more... commercial. Kind of like how children of the 1970s might view Legos; still the same toy, but a lot more complicated, and it gives one a sense of loss of the simpler times. I shoved those memories and pangs of fun nights loose in Georgetown back down in the dark hole, but one of them kept staring at us. I realized, fully, we were dressed very abnormally. I don't recall what I wore, but Steve chose something that made him look like a psychotic golfer: short parts, a tweed coat, and a safety orange Scottish cap. I am not sure what Steve was thinking, but thought, "Man... I really hope I don't know those people and they act like, 'Hey, Greg, what happened, we haven't seen you--' and I'd pretend I didn't know them." But they didn't.
One of them, the girl who stared, came up to me, and said, "My boyfriend REALLY likes how you are dressed, and wanted to give you this cookie." Was she making fun of me? I wondered. I scanned her face, and although it was hard to see through the whiteface and the color streaks, I felt a little relieved she seemed unfamiliar. We thanked her, and among my new friends we took a consensus that even though we'd been given a Mrs. Field's cookie in a bag, we figured it was laced with drugs because while *we* might be weird, those were PUNK ROCKERS, man, and "you know those types." I agreed, but a part of me died inside that day because even though I realized I didn't want part of that past anymore, I felt like I had turned against them and now was as shallow as the people we used to make fun of.
Time passed. I denied I knew Billy Idol used to be in a band called, "Generation X." Sex Pistols? Gross. The Ramones need haircuts, what do they think they are, the Beatles? Time kept going faster. I lost my mom, graduated high school, lived with FanTek, got married, had a kid, wrote a book about a punk sea mammal, but punk, me? What are you talking about? Pffhh. Sod the whole lot. Yeah, Brad's girlfriend is punk, but she's different. Okay, some punks I know through FanTek are cool, but they're different.
Of course, the book would change me in ways I didn't think it would. The illustrator, Suzi, was not dumb enough to swallow my supposedly clean, nerdly image after we discussed some illustrations Bruce wanted her to do. One night, I admitted to her part of my past, and then didn't want to talk about it. She understood. She and I still stayed friends, and I learned a lot from her.
One day, I thought, "Gee... Nirvana sounds familar. I have heard that sound before... but Grunge is new, right?" Heh.
Then one night, I was at her and Cambion's apartment, and she played a tape she had been wanting me to listen to. I had always avoided it, but I think Margaret (one of her friends) convinced me it was really good. Now, it would be cool if I said it was some Ramones hit, and I awoke from a deep slumber like some music video where an "old skool" punk rocker arises from the dead, but it was neither. It was a tape by an ex Bananarama singer, which I think followed an argument that one of the singers was a goth. I was already a great fan of the goth community, although I found some of them very arrogant and morose (and still do), which may seem funny to a non-Goth, but a lot of us were really not like the media states. I laugh at "Goth Talk" on SNL skits because it mocks the poseurs, and we used to make the SAME jokes. Anyway, Suzi popped in the cassette, and I heard a lone oboe that reminded me of some Tangerine Dream album I didn't like, and I squirmed in the sofa, hoping I could stomach what was to come. But suddenly the tune changed.
It was "Goodbye Cruel World," by Shakespear's Sister.
Why this tune, why this one song grabbed hold of me, I'll never know. Sometimes I wondered if it was marijuana residue her place always smelled of. But it haunted me. In a good way. Memories of Klaus Nomi, David Bowie, and Black Flag bubbled up, and I had gone so long without thinking about not thinking about that part of my past, my defenses were dead. The guards of that deep hole were nothing by shadows of rusted armor, I had to fight from crying, and I swore I got a nosebleed in the aftermath. Suzi smiled.
You bitch, I thought. How the hell did you know? How the HELL did you figure this out?
I'd like to think it was an accident, but artists have this annoying habit of knowing things about me I swear I haven't told a damn soul. Nybor reminded me of this when I saw him last weekend.
She loaned me the tape until I could afford to buy my own. I must have played that a thousand times. I wrote part of my NaNoWriMo story to that album. Of course, I also did it to "Confessions of the Dance Floor," too, so take what you will from that.
Am I really all punk and goth and shit? Well, maybe. Suzi thought I was. Probably still does. And sadly, hanging around these concerts makes me the creepy old guy. I certainly understand a lot of where goth and punk comes from, still listen to their music, and if I didn't need to keep a respecable job and get bank loans, ninjacooter and I would have a hair color war. One final note: two years ago, some yahoo decided not only that I wasn't a "real goth," and decided to make this known to Suzi, who had linked to me "in error." Thus spake Suzi:
Allow me to asure you, my reading-comp challenged darling, that Mr Larson, whose website so easily bored you, is closer to the heart of Goth than you might ever aspire to find yourself. Your inability to understand this after having found him through a site that happily and thoroughly denounces anti-intellectual image hounds and walking stereotypes demonstrates this beyond any doubt.Guess that means I get to keep the goth decoder ring, folks. :)