Punked-Out Punk: Part One

Reagan Youth

Reagan Youth

Went to Hollywood last Sunday to see Reagan Youth and 13 Scars play at Los Globos.  Attached my portable oxygen tank to my walker.  Laced up the Martens and left the Miracle Ear at home.  Always dug Reagan Youth.  They were from Queens.  Aaayyyy! Fuckin’ Ay.  Woodhaven, yo!

However, the main reason was to meet up with Dave Gurz and Michael Essington.  They were going to be there signing copies of  Under A Broken Street Lamp.  Both cool dudes.  Real people.  Interesting thinkers.  I’ve enjoyed their writing.  This would be my first chance to get to hang out with either of them.  The next day, friends from Santa Fe were going to be in Hollywood.  Perfect.  I figured I’d rent a roach box to comfort in for the night, and then see Brisa and Dennis the next morning.

Okay. This was going to be fun.  I had a lot to look forward to.

You wouldn’t know it by the way I left the house.  You’d have thought I was going out to die for the last time.  I don’t know if it’s old age or being sober.  Probably the synergistic effect of both.  I have a hard time getting my lazy ass out the door these days.  There’s just so many irritating things that can go wrong “out there.”  And nothing that really seems worth it.

Not like here at home.

Sure, if I stayed at home I would probably wind up having to chase out dog-sized racoons from the kitchen, break up a cat-fight between Louie and Boris, poke-out a hissing possum with a mop handle, or swat at bats with a broom.

Actually, I make Lori do that last one.  I have to hold a blanket up by the stairway so the bats don’t fly up to the second floor.  She’s not tall enough to get a good seal.  So that leaves her with broom duty.  I’ll hear her swatting and swearing.  Knocking shit over.  But she always gets them out.  She’s pretty good at it.  That’s because she’s from hillbilly stock.  I’m better behind the blanket.  I’m from Queens. Aaay.

My point is that it can be sheer chaos here at the house, but it’s my own…cozy chaos.

Some might say I like to isolate.  I call it tactically withdrawing from an oppressive consensus reality.  Whatever Post-it note you want to attach.  I prefer desolate places.  Where I can sit hunched on a jagged rock.  Alone in the world.  My webbed wings beaten flat by the Broom of Life.  Now and then sighing deeply.  Beholding the sheer majesty of the Wasteland of Woe.  Bitter winds salting the desert with the dried tears of its victims.

Only friendship could coax to come out from the sorrowful sands of Bou-Saada.  And go to a punk rock show.

It wasn’t going to be cake walk.  Not for me.  Somewhere between February 1st  2004 and last night, I misplaced large portions of my edge.  I needed to prime myself.  But with what?  What was left for me? What could I safely use to torque myself into the proper state?

I bought a bag of Brazil nuts.  I read they naturally raise testosterone.  I think because of the Selenium.  I don’t care.  I just didn’t want to go to a punk show while suffering from low T-levels.  I wanted to get my Agro on.  And everyone knows that Agro is just thwarted horniness–from too much testosterone.  A rage few men over the age of fifty get to enjoy.

These Brazil nuts better work.

So I can want to rip somebody’s head off.

Because I really want to kiss a girl, instead.

Okay then.  That takes care of the head.  Now what about the gut?

I stocked up on salami and beans. Old-school fuel.  Liquor store war rations.  Protein.  Fat.  Salt.  A slow-burning carb.  Plus nitrates to add a toxic edge.  An army can march on a bellyful of that.  No wasting time preparing it.  Or waiting for somebody to bring it to you.  The preferred grab-n-go of go-getters around the globe, Plug.

Motel room service

Motel room service

Before I left, Lori insisted I take her Mercedes.  She was afraid my 2001 Suzuki Esteem wouldn’t make the 47 mile journey.  Well, it’s one of the many things that keeps us together as a couple– being afraid of the same things, so I agreed.  But reluctantly.  I hate to drive her car.

Of course it’s a thousand times better than my rattle trap.  That’s the problem.  I’m scared I’ll somehow wreck it.  I have to be extra careful driving, and Lori already laughs at me.  She says I drive as slow as an eighty-year-old woman stoned on medical brownies.

That’s not true.  I’m just cautious.  I’ve been in so many car wrecks, starting at age five, that the idea of getting into one no longer seems far-fetched.  Not like to the ass-holes weaving through lanes with inches to spare.  They are immortal gods playing a video game.  They don’t care about the sacks of meat hurtling through space in sharp metal boxes around them.

Well this time I wasn’t as concerned about wrapping it around a pole as I was about pulling up at a punk show in a Mercedes.

Besides the ironic social comment it would make, I didn’t want to park it near any roving gangs of anarchists.  I could just see one of them keying “Capitalist Pig” into the side of it.  I don’t know why I could picture it so clearly.  But it made me nervous-er.

One more thing that could go wrong in a scarey world gone mad–having to deal with people like me.  Oh God.

At that point I knew I needed to get a grip.  Stop the frettin’ and knuckle rubbin’ and man up.  Who is this worried little twat?  How did he get into me?

Truth is- that quivering worm was always in me.  Wiggling just under my sternum.  I used to beat it into submission with beer.  But eventually, it learned to beat back.  Now I have to lay the smack down differently.  Have to find a new way to connect with my inner Beasthood.  Then strangle The Worm.

I thought about how I could do that.  Perhaps drink once more from the fountain of Reagan Youth.  Regain the unrealistic ideals of my deformative years.  Recapture the rage.  Electro-paddle the passion back into arrhythmia.

I hit the signal.  Cautiously merged into the Sunday afternoon traffic on the 101.  Slowly dragged my Brazil nuts south for the night.

(To be continued)

Rage on.


20 responses to “Punked-Out Punk: Part One

  1. Oh Mr. G – I loves me a road trip tale. Sordid, with all the salty nut details. The type that have roving gangs of pecans, testosterone-laden walnuts butting shells to win over tarty pine nuts, cavorting cashews at the casinos, perhaps a little bit of the soft eroticism of busty chestnuts and the underground marzipan industry. And you capture a lot here, young esquire. I loved this.

    I re-read this (as I do with all your work) and just honed in on the wicked writerly stuff you do. The paragraph:

    “Some might say I like to isolate. I call it tactically withdrawing from an oppressive consensus reality. Whatever Post-it note you want to attach. I prefer desolate places. Where I can sit hunched on a jagged rock. Alone in the world. My webbed wings beaten flat by the Broom of Life. Now and then sighing deeply. Beholding the sheer majesty of the Wasteland of Woe. Bitter winds salting the desert with the dried tears of its victims.”

    is sheer brilliance, and it also touched me because I am an isolator too. Still do it. It’s one of those barnacles that still clings on to the hull of my psyche. We like to do that, don’t we? Men, as it is, are lone wolves in the DNA already. Add to that a way of living that demands covert non-contact with the world, and you have a hermit in the making. Can’t change that puppy overnight, can we? Toughen up. Man up. Get some Brazil nuts (that part made me laugh, dude). Like the quivering worm there – it never really goes away – we just adjust, learn to break out a bit, get a new game face on, cry a bit, get all Dalai Lama on it. Ask the Big Pistachio to take it away. Crack open that shell a bit.

    I also loved what you said about priming and torquing. Well, that’s what we did, didn’t we? I was thinking about that as I left the house at the ungodly hour of 5am for work this morning (figures – the wife and kids are away, so I had most of Saturday to myself and would have had all Sunday morning / afternoon to myself too, but I got scheduled day work today. A lesson in this somewhere). When *didn’t* I need torquing? My whole life was just a trial and error in trying to get to that *moment*, to try and fit in the cup holder of life…and it rarely worked. Or at least it did at the beginning. Any time I felt I needed to prime myself…well, I over primed and did a metaphorical belly flop every time. I was the bat and booze was the broom. Or at least my mind was.

    Anyway, I really enjoy a cliffhanger too – don’t take too long on that. My heart can only take so much. But I did have to look up the Reagan Youth, and yeah, full on stuff there. Guitar and ear shredding stuff. I was more a death metal guy, but I can appreciate my intestines being bounced around in a mosh pit. I’ve had the docs before and lost items of clothing in the pits before. A sort of organized mob. Loved it back in the day. I tip my hat to you for getting geared up and back in the game, even as a ringer. Good on ya.

    Thank you for this. Made my day.

    God save the queen,


    P.S tell me that you’ve seen this SCTV skit about punk – always loved this:

    • Thanks, dude. For the kind words, of course, and for THE VIDEO! My God. I know I’ve never seen it (and I thought I’d seen everything the SCTV crew had done) because I would have remembered this chestnut. Oh shit they look so young. That’s Candy on drums, right? The other hilarious thing is that even though the thing is a send-up, I’m listening to it and I’m bobbing my head along. Getting into it. Like I’m not in on the joke.
      Ah, that was a good laugh. Delightful indeed. Man, I loved/love that show. Canadians can do comedy. For sure. May I present Pauly as exhibit A?
      Anyweeze, happy to enjoyed the piece. Dreading having to finish it. So let’s nobody hold our breaths, okay? I was even thinking about sneaking in and surgically snipping off the “Part One” and “to be continued” Wha-lah! It is done. Not continuing it would make it more post post-post-Modern. So post it’s gone around and become Modern again.
      Chances are I’ll finish it, since it’s easier than coming up with a new subject. Might as well beat the horse deader.
      To be honest, I was proud of myself for getting out. A little contrary action, eh? I just knew I had to. It had been too long since I’d broken out of my well-worn rut. That urge to comfortably repeat routine can be a formidable foe. But if I don’t push through, and it force-fields me back into the safety of habit, I don’t grow. Or at least a lot slower. Cactus versus Poinsettia deal.
      Of course, I’m all for picking my battles. Really wanted to see Dave and Mike so I figured “Tonight, we ride!”
      I have, since that night, not done 17,986,455 things. Things I could have done, if I wasn’t such a fraidy cat. So before I start congratulating myself for not becoming a shut-in, I better re-read Howard Hughes’ biography. Say what you want about Hughes, but he could be considered a mover and shaker. He did some stuff. Made a little coin too I understand. But as far as living the dream, I think for me that only started when he became a recluse. C’mon, watching Ice Station Zebra for the millionth time while high off of the most potent prescriptions a billionaires money can buy? All while eating the Baskin and Robbin’s banana ice-cream he had his Mormon mafia stockpile in warehouses. Penthouse suite. Toe-nails growing out into curling claws. Jars of your own urine under the bed. Just not giving a fuck.
      Now that’s a happy ending. A real success story. The American Dream.
      What scares me is that he turned out like that. Mr. Do Things. Johnny Ambition. What’s going to happen to me? I don’t feel like I have had the same running start in the other direction when age attempts to shrink my world. I don’t want to be that guy who builds a house inside of his house. You know, made out of piles of newspapers and canned food. (I know you freak on hoarders too, Pauly. Don’t act like you don’t because you’ve admitted it) Not like it’s a fatal attraction. But fascinating.
      And perhaps, in some grotesque caricature way, a warning.
      I hope not. I have enough problems.
      But hey, you’re not one of them.
      love you, bro

  2. I don’t know what it is about the Brazil nuts that had me laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes, but I and my cracked-up tears thank you and your…

    This is not going well, is it.

    Don’t boot any of the little chicks in the head, okay? (occupational hazard, that, when you’re under five feet tall…)

    • Thank you, Lee Ann. I’m glad my nuts could bring so much teary laughter.
      I think.
      You’ll be relieved to know I didn’t boot any pixies. Or anyone for that matter. I pretty much ghosted through the whole evening, leaving no…footprint. Never really took off my cloak of invisibility. Not hard to do in Hollywood. Everybody is too busy looking for somebody to see them to actually see anybody else. Everyone in their own video, but nobody left to watch it.
      It’s exactly as Gurz predicted, attention has become the new valuable commodity. One that seems pretty scarce these days, too. What with the deficit and all.
      Doesn’t bother me. I still barter goods. And bads.
      Give O’Kane a coach nut-slap from me.
      And thank you for reading.

  3. Oh, did you just bring me down the memory lane! wheeee! I can totally relate to this post too, the feeling of being completely naked, is how I always think about it. I went to NIN concert 2 years in sobriety, yep felt completely naked! But once the music started I was fine, I had a blast, it was the best concert I have been to for sure. I can’t wait to hear how your concert was, I hope the Brazil nuts worked! LOL!

    • My buddy Spike says that Nine Inch Nails was one of the gnarliest concerts he’s ever been to. I can only suspect some of the factors that might have made the experience so memorable. Glad to hear you enjoyed them sober. To be honest, did miss my alkeehol during my first few sober concerts. At least right before them, but like you said, once the music started I was okay. Rockin’ good, in fact. I remember being relieved–relieved that I could still enjoy live music not hammered out of my mind. It’s crazy, huh? What we worried about. Stuff that turned out to be groundless.
      Now if I can just see how crazy the things I worry about now are, I’ll be set.
      Thanks for coming by, Maggie.
      Much love,
      Oh, not sure if the nuts worked, but I think they’re doing something. Making me feel a little squirrel-y. Mmmm…Selenium.

      • After that last comment, I am very convinced that monks should avoid Brazil nuts like the plague and that I definitely will not include them in a care package to Mt. Athos. Great post BTW. If you don’t finish it the ghost of expression denied might haunt you.

      • Thank you, jrj1701. Yes, my devout friend, perhaps there are more appropriate gifts to bequeath unto your Orthodox monastics…than a testosterone-boosting supplement. If the hardy nature of their beards is any indicator, they’ve already got plenty of man-hormones swirling around in their systems. Why then pour gasoline on a fire they are trying to contain? It would seem only out of some perverse cruelty.
        However, if my understanding of the practice of celibacy is correct, (and how in the hell could my understanding of it ever be?) the aspiring saint sublimates this lower energy in order to channel it upwards. Rather than experience the ecstasy of union with some carnal companion, the saint directs the impulse towards a greater union with The Divine. The raw animal instinct for reproduction is now used to achieve a more sublime spiritual ecstasy. It would seem to me that the more “serpentine” energy you have to divert, the more intense the mystical experience of this union would be. To the able practitioner, what could be an obstacle or distraction, is now used as rocket fuel for their journey upward. Even the anguish of St. Anthony, as he arm-wrestled with the amorous attentions of Ammonaria, was alchemically altered to aid in his ascension aloft.
        Thus, Brazil nuts, in the hands of a spirit savvy monk, would only serve him in his endeavor to greater holiness.
        As all things should, eh?
        That’s the trick, alright.
        Learning that presto-change.
        I’ll keep working on it. What the hell. It’s not like I have anything better to do.
        Thanks again.

        May everything cleave you closer to the Creator.

      • Anybody who can make a reference to St. Anthony’s struggle has a deeper understanding of what is going on than they believe. Another aspect of monasticism that gets taking the wrong way is striving towards the goal that Christ set, “Be Ye perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect.” Re-diverting the natural urge to procreate brings about a spiritual ecstasy for some, yet for most the natural urging of the body blocks divine revelation, this revelation is essential in insuring that you ain’t messing somebody else up.

      • I dig what you’re saying. It is most unfortunate that following the natural urge to procreate so often does lead to “messing somebody else up.” It really limits the options available to an urger with a conscience. However, some of the misfortunes the befall the selfish libertine are enough to deliver a “divine revelation” of their own. If you catch my drift. Like “Oh God, what have I gotten myself into? You have to get me out of this. I’ll do anything!”
        Many a prodigal son’s return to the Father, started with some shack-up gone south.
        St. Augustine comes to mind. He meets a woman in Carthage (all good stories start with that) but because his mother wanted him to marry in his class, he winds up keeping her as his lover. For many years. Even had a son by her. When the son was seventeen years old, Augustine converts to Christianity, and dumps them both to pursue God’s calling. I can only speculate that the inherent challenge of trying to raise a teenage bastard son didn’t hurt in spurring him onward, upward, and away.
        Regardless, whether it was because of his original sinning with this Carthaginian cupcake, or his decision to bail on the family, he more than likely messed them up pretty good. Messy business however you decide to slice it.
        And yet, in spite of all that, he still managed to earn sainthood. Which leaves the barn door open just a crack wider. For the rest of us sinners.
        And that is The Good News.
        Love and Light, my brother.

      • I do have to say that I was way up on the lawn (outdoor concert) in the safe distance of all the crazines! I don’t think I was ready to do the mash pit or body surfing, or anything like that! LOL! But the sound out there was much better!

  4. My father-in-law, Bob Gill, used to call those times spent in isolation a “dividend on life”. He would allocate a fixed amount of time per share, (a share being accrued through trudging the road of everyday living in the chaos) usually nothing short of a full day. Retained earnings (time that have not been distributed as dividends) are shown in the shareholder equity section (guilt free rationalization). Instead of receiving dividends on a fixed schedule (weekend warrior), he would declare a dividend at any time, sometimes calling it a special dividend to distinguish it from the fixed schedule dividends. It worked for him and I find myself accruing more and more equity in my account and taking more and more “dividends on life” the older (wiser?) I get.
    Try using a Batman flashlight next time you find one of those critters in the house. They follow it just like a moth to a flame.

    • I love the concept ol’ B.G. cooked up. Sort of like earning time off your original sentence. I’ll tell you what though, if anybody has earned alone time, it’s you, my friend. You could spend the rest of your life on a craggy, solitary island off of Ireland, and still have funds in the bank, so to speak.
      I, on the other hand, must constantly resort to Ponzi stock-swindles for my dividends. I compensate my smallest efforts with Wall St. lavishness. “Oh look, I made my bed. Now I get to lie in it all week-end.”
      Meanwhile, Ace is ripping out floor joists so he can replace the entire second story of his house. Between making Trader Joe runs.
      You know it’s true.
      Thanks for the tip. I will try the bat light, too.
      Hey, I thought they were blind.
      What gives?

  5. Screens make good bat shields, plus if you pop them out and open up the windows and doors, it gives more options for the bat to go out and the possum to come in.

    The line about being afraid of the same things? I believe you cracked the code on relationship longevity. Brilliant.

    I hear you about not wanting to go out anymore. Last weekend we had tickets to go watch roller derby at none other than the roller rink that time forgot (which is all of them). I really didn’t want to go, and not just because the snack bar cheese sauce is haunted and made my kids tie each other up another kid’s belt in the “game room”. But you know, I did have fun, though never as much fun as the kids.

    Looking forward to part 2.

    • Ha! I was looking down the barrel of this little jaunt, when I so frivolously assigned you the roller rink mission. What can I say? I didn’t want to be the only one miserable. Now look at this. You go out on point, and come back with scalps. Roller Derby no less. That is so badass. Most excellent.
      And going when you didn’t really want to is big. A not-so-minor victory. Damn if the boundaries of Life don’t close in fast. Without the occasional shove back.
      Glad the kids had fun. Improvised bondage in the game room is a healthy part of growing up. For Indigo Children.
      They’re lucky to have you for a mom.
      Anyway, glad one of us is looking forward to part 2. Speaking of which, I better go and try to wrangle the beast into his Sunday clothes.
      Thanks for hanging out.
      Much love consciously directed,

  6. Entertaining enough to convince the Almighty not to get smitey. No, I really think your mission is to entertain god(s) and give it (them) a reason not to sneeze us from existence. Bless you. You’re making me want to come over there and pinch both your cheeks. (that’s a family blessing in the Carnage household. And not your butt-cheeks either. That’s a whole different blessing.)
    No pressure then. Keep writing or the world ends. How’s that!
    (and thinking of bats…) I imagine myself writing your story as a screenplay. I’d have to include the an opening or closing shot of you perched high on a desert rock, with your bat wings all god-smacked, crying tears of sand, as you crumble into dust, lamenting… “it was only a punk rock concert!”
    Any ideas for a title? ‘Broke-bat mountain?’ ‘In god we thrust?’

    • Thank you, my friend. I’ll take that cheek squeeze, you cheeky bastard, and raise you a spine-crushing bear hug. Powdering bones in a loving embrace is a blessing in this household. Albeit one that is hardly appreciated.
      Oh, don’t worry, Johnny, I’m not about to let the world end. Not yet anyway. Not when we’re just getting to the good part. The part where the people hard-wired to be assholes all freak the fuck out. I’ve been waiting for their wailing and gnashing of teeth for a while now. It’s gonna be music to my ears.
      Oh course I wish peace and joy to all sentient beings. There’s just a few I’d like to see get sent back to the end of the line. Let them wait a little longer. While I deliver my “I told you so,” speech.
      I vote for “In God we thrust.” Sounds more evangelical. Which, you know, I am.
      Smitten with smiting,

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