Punked-Out Punk: The Merciful Conclusion

Trey Oswald and Paul Bakija of Reagan Youth

Trey Oswald and Paul Bakija of Reagan Youth

Ugly scene at the punk show.  Gurz and I wound up going at it.  Savage exchange.  Dude fights dirtier than me.  Beat me to the salt shaker.  Then beat me with the salt shaker.  Right there on the dance floor.  While the band played on.  I thought I’d met my match, but remembered a move called Monkey Steals A Peach.  That took the proverbial wind out.  Cops showed up and arrested us both for felony assault.  Essington posted our bail.  We paid him back by stealing his car.

Hmm.  It’s a good start for this piece.  I mean I really like it.  Right away we’re up to our elbows in action.  The writing is snappy and scrappy.  Lean and tough.  I get to work in a salt shaker and Monkey Steals A Peach reference.  Getting busted is rich.  The evil burn there at the end, too.  The whole paragraph is so me.  We’re talking signature shit.

There’s only one little problem.  It’s a balls-out lie.

Personally, I don’t have a problem with that.  It’s just that Gurz or Essington might yap.  Then everybody will think/know I’m a liar.  Which would suck.  And oh yeah, I’m supposed to try to be as honest as possible, in order to help stay sober.

Fucking staying sober.  Always tripping up my game.  Saving me from humiliation.

You want the truth?  You think you can handle it?  Well handle this-

I went to the show and had an okay time.  Got along with Gurz and Essington.  Nothing crazy happened.  Was asleep in my motel bed by 2AM.  Had a nice breakfast with Brisa and Dennis the next morning.  Came home.  The end.

After all that build up, that’s all you get.  I’m sorry, but that’s the truth.  No drinking.  No drugging.  No fist-fights.  No stage-diving.  No strippers.  No hookers.  No cops.

Not so hot on the truth now, are you?  Yeah, it’s easy to pay it lip labor, but another thing to have to endure listening to it.  Or in this case, having to read it.  It could set you free, but the truth just might lull you to sleep.  Like a bellyful of antihistamine-fed turkey, cold hard facts can be quite soporific.  Plain old boring truth.

Here’s some more boring truth-  I hate writing music reviews.  Mostly because I suck.  I’ll write “they sound alright, like some band I can’t remember the name of, only more hoppy-boppy,” or “the chick playing bass looks like someone my buddy went out with, back in Santa Fe, during the 90’s.  A real clingy, emotionally needy, pain in the ass.  The girlfriend, not the bass player.  I don’t know what her story is.”

I’m no Lester Bangs.  And don’t want to be.  First off, he’s dead.  Second off, I recognize my limitations as a writer.

Add that to the fact that nothing amazing, funny, or insane happened at the show, and you’ll know why I dragged ass getting here.  This thing became a book report I couldn’t find the Cliff Notes for.  I kept putting off writing about the show with a Part One, Part Two, Part Three, hoping I’d find some angle to make it interesting.  Well, the angle never came.  That’s when I decided to try to lie my way out.  Like a cornered rat.

Sure, lot’s of uninteresting things happen to me, all the time, and it’s never stopped me from writing about them.  But there’s usually some internal component, some gleaned insight or entertaining thought process to report.  Not this time.  The only thing I remember thinking was, “this music is okay, but I’m ready for it to stop now.  It’s starting to hurt my ears.”

Not much to hang your hat on.  Even for Lester Bangs.

Reagan Youth

Thank God, Michael Essington was there.  He can write about music.  Or anything else.  He’s prolific.  Smart.  A natural writer.  Very readable.  In real life, a solid down-to-earth character.  No posturing or posing.  And that comes through in his work.  I wish we could have talked more that night, but the music was…too loud.

Anyway, while I hemmed and hawed, waiting for some God Machine to descend from the sky, he banged out a review of the show.  You can read it here.

Okay.  That gets me off that hook.  No need to review the show.  And that should be lesson to all you kids out there.  Sometimes procrastination pays off.  So don’t put it off.

I’ll will add that while Essington was jumping hurdles trying to get to the show, I saw the whole thing.  13 Scars and Reagan Youth managed to tap into the wellspring of youthful angst and delivered the notice.  Especially noteworthy, since both bands are made up of generally older dude types.  It was good to see middle-agehood could still shred shit up.  Good for morale.  A mighty hammer blow struck against the evils of ageism.

But like I said, at one point my ears just gave out.  It wasn’t the musicianship, or even some age-crisis induced introspection, but the physical discomfort of decibels relentlessly beating against the skull that made me ready to bail.  But I didn’t.  I clung on to the bitter end.

And am a better man because of it.

Michael Essington and David Gurz

Michael Essington and David Gurz

If you read part one of this saga (and my stats show that’s not likely) you’ll know that I went primarily for the book-signing, Essington and Gurz were doing for their joint effort,  Under a Broken Street Lamp.  It was good to finally meet Gurz.  A deeply troubled individual.  Dangerously deranged old punk.  Ex-con.  Ex-heroin junky.  Street survivor.  You’re just not going to find a more subterranean creature.  If I had a stick that night I would have poked at him, just to watch him claw and hiss, the madness and menace glinting in his eyes.  A fascinating specimen of Demonous Nocturnous.

And all that comes through in his work.  But lots of other stuff too.  Sinister resume aside, Dave is a sweetheart.  Intelligent, funny-as-fuck, and–oh, he’s gonna kill me–sensitive and caring.  That’s right.  He’s what is known in folklore as a Noble Scoundrel.  Standard archetype, really.  What the turn-of-the-century criminal, Jack Black, called “a good Yegg.”

Anyway, we’d been corresponding and talking on the phone for over a year before this, so it was great to actually meet in person.  And not be able to communicate.  But hang out anyway.

That’s what this whole odyssey was about.  Making the effort to connect with friends.  Going against my selfish inclination for the apparent comfort and safety of isolation, and coming out to the show.  Just to be there.  To hang out.  To talk loudly to somebody who can’t hear you, and then not hear them tell you that.  To build that bond that comes from nodding and shrugging at each other.  Clueless.  While droplets of blood roll from your ears.

I wouldn’t trade it for all the treasure in Timbuktu.

Okay.  That’s not true either.


Anarchy Transformer

12 responses to “Punked-Out Punk: The Merciful Conclusion

  1. The start of part three sounded like a misadventure hoped for and then the revelation of what you consider to be boring, well sometimes boring is less hazardous to you health. You are realizing serenity ain’t so bad, so enjoy it.

    • No, serenity ain’t bad at all, me friend. I didn’t mean to imply that I was bored by the non-adventure, just that my readers might be. And that’s the last thing I ever want to do to you guys. Is bore you. God forbid I should get to live a normal life. One that is not jam-packed with one hilarious horrible thing happening to me after another. How will anyone be able to laugh? What will happen to the mirth on Earth? So yeah, I take my responsibility to my reading public seriously, and try to magnetize misadventure as best I can. It’s just that now I don’t pour it straight out of the bottle. It’s more of a gentle salad toss of tumult. A few croutons of crummy here and there to add crunch. Maybe some freshly ground angst to add zip. A splash of drama-lite dressing. It’s low-cal fare, for sure. But it’s much healthier than the rich, heavy stuff.
      So if it means having to rack my brain to come up with things to report, well…that’s okay by me. Having a lot to write about, isn’t always good.
      Okay, jrj1701, I hope your Christmas season is joyous this year. And that all the saints, not just Nicholas, bestow their lavish gifts upon you.
      Thanks for stopping by.

    • Great idea, Sue. Do you keep anything else in your purse, for just in case? Ha. Had to go there. You know me.
      Anyway, I did think about bringing plugs, but then my unreasonable macho self vetoed the idea. What would the children think? “Look, that old man is trying to protect one of his vital senses!” I couldn’t handle that. So instead I went a little more deaf. But kept my cool.
      I just remembered a story- Spud and I went to the California Music Festival at the LA Coliseum (my dad drove us) to see Aerosmith, Van Halen and UFO. That was, to this day, the loudest concert I’ve ever been to. It was so gnarly that we actually went around and picked up cigarette butts to stick into our ears. That’s right. Two very self-conscious fifteen-year-olds, sticking used cigarettes in their ears, and not caring what the people around them thought. That’s how painful it was. And you might remember that Spud was not exactly allergic to loud.
      Wow, that’s a good memory. Sticking butts in the ear.
      I should’ve done the same thing during this show, but apparently I’ve become even more self-conscious than I was at fifteen.
      That’s depressing.
      Something always can be, I guess.
      Okay, back to looking at things from the sunnier side. Hope to see you this helliday season. Let us at least do lunch. I’ll even drive all the way up to Ventura. How’s that for selflessness?

  2. Good for you! Awesome story, sorry it felt boring… I can relate! (I say this every time I am here! LOL!) But you know, this is life! i am finding out that normal is ok, normal is good – which is quite the opposite of everything i have ever wanted to be – me normal? – well I am still not quite normal, but i am definitely not terminally unique! I am glad you chose to go out of your comfortable zone – this is a huge growth step, doing that makes us even more open to the world and helps us make new connections which while drinking were none existent!

    • Well yes, good for me, but no, I wasn’t bored, Maggie. I just felt like I was being boring. Which now that I think about it, isn’t a crime anyway. So what if I’m boring? I know lots of people who are, and nobody’s rounding up a torch-bearing mob for them.
      Let’s do an affirmation together. “Today, confidant that the world’s end will neither hasten nor tarry because of it, we allow ourselves to be as uninteresting as everyone else.”
      Whew! That’s a load off. I feel lighter.
      Now if I can only get rid of this nagging feeling that every single moment of my life has to feel like midnight at Time’s Square on New Year’s eve, I’ll be set.
      Thank you for reading and writing, Maggie. I hope you have a happy and joy-laden holiday seasoning. And that you never become completely normal.
      A work in progress

  3. Noble scoundrel. Lulz. I’ll use that at my preliminary hearing Thursday for sure.
    Getting to kick it with you at the show sure was a gas, even if you and Essington both totally bitched up and refused my invite to stage dive during Reagan Youth’s set. It just sucks we didn’t have more time and weren’t somewhere so fucking loud on the constant.

    • Good luck with that hearing. I’d write you a letter but it would probably get you sent to a super-max. Inadvertently of course.
      As for bitching up and not diving, I am going to have to plead out. Guilty as is. If there was a ramp I could drive my Rascal scooter up to the stage on, I would’ve driven that battery-motorized bitch right off the ledge, in a final, desperate, geriatric, Thelma and Louise Kamikaze dive into the audience. But there wasn’t. You can testify to the fact that that stage at Los Globos, did NOT have handicap access. So. There.
      Guilty by extenuating circumstances.
      Hey, I know you had a lot going on that night, including road-rash from being on tour, but it was still good to see you. Sorry Auburn has been so gnarly. Good thing you’re gnarlier. Talk at you soon. Oh, and tell those people at the house who I am, and that they need to hop to it when I call. I swear. Pretending they don’t hear me. It’s the oldest one in the book.
      Peeth out, mofo.
      and love.

  4. I am listening to Reagan Youth right now. I don’t know any of their songs, but I reckon I need a little background music. Put me in the spot. Get me right where you were without being anywhere near it. A cosmic Bend it like Beckham, with sonic spin and a head butt to the bridge of the nose for authenticity. Maybe some spittle and O Positive to finish painting the scene. I am all about the scene, and when it’s laid out by you, I can’t help but bring me an extra large bowl for some good eatin’.

    You know, I was looking over your latest ouevre here, as a whole, not in pinpoint passionate perspective and you did a damn fine job. Sometimes it’s about stepping back and taking in the totality of the deal. Not get jelled up about the curlicue of the Q or the fontal qualities of the work. There’s a serif sheriff somewhere, and I certainly don’t want to be it when I look back at my own work…but that’s what we do, eh Marius? Beat our heads with a tarnished thesaurus instead of breathing in the breath of our collection. I may not end up in the winner’s circle (according to some arcane and utterly unreachable curricula that would shame Pythagoras), but sometimes I step back and see that hey, it’s not the devil’s phlegm that I think that it is. So sit back, Mr. G. Wonderful tale here you spun with golden fleece yarn and two teflon drumsticks to knit with.

    This whole thing about being boring…well, it’s all relative, ain’t it? You have had some doozy times, eh Herr G? And they make for some congee-like thick tales that get us readers all tizzied and tazered and wondering how the hell you got out alive, with all limbs and a good head of pH balanced hair. Even at my craziest I was still a doilie-sewing spinster compared to your quitest moments. But those days carried a price. Or at least I am told they do. They did for this cat. Still paying…with loan shark like interest rates. Like you said, no cops, no print taking, no assuming the position. That’s a pretty good night. But I knew what you were talking about possibly boring us. Impossible, kind sir. Sure the music was there, but it’s the seeking and not the finding that brings us to some new place, isn’t it?

    It’s that reaching out you talked about. Getting all sober-talky and such. Prying yourself from the Hermit of the Year trophy and picking up a phone that doesn’t seem to weigh 500 lbs (about 3 1/2 Paul Lynde’s) and actually talking to another hominid. I applaud you for that because I still have to be dragged out by Belgian weigh lifters before I get out of my comfort zone and try to have fun. Sometimes I wonder how this idea of going out without a paint can worth of Paint Thinner’s Finest Whiskey down my gullet works. But I guess I do it as needed. Like changing the battery on the smoke detectors.

    You’ve inspired me, kind sir. As you are oft to do with your fine detail to humanity and wordmanship. Inspired me to what, I am not sure, but I am surely out of the darkness that bound me the last day or two. Not even a chocolate chip cookie could release me like this did. Reagan Youth is blaring my ears now, but your tale has sung to the soul, Mr. G.

    Shot to the solar plexus.


    • “Say, re-reading this again, I don’t think this sputum I just spewed up on the screen is actually all that infernal. What a relief!” Man, isn’t that just the best? I usually scan the horizon for any immediate threats to my personal safety, and finding none, take a few deep breaths. Devil’s phlegm. I swear, Pauly. That mind of yours should be in some museum. After you’re done using it, of course.
      Thank you for liking the saga though, this modest Bayeux tapestry I knit with only poultry needles and rolled sweater lint.
      I don’t know how the whole thing plays as a connected choo-choo. Sort of lost track of that while trying to link up sentences. I’m sure I could go back and pick apart stuff, polish off some burrs. Or even gut it completely and replace it with something that actually makes sense. But kind of like you said, there comes a point where the micro-managing yields only minor dividends and only winds up destroying morale. And morale is a fragile little butterfly here at Trudge Inc. So I’ll just let it be, and hope the inherent flaws I left, don’t somehow, someday, play a critical role in bringing about my utter demise. Oh God, I hope that doesn’t happen.
      What if it does, Pauly?
      Anyway, sober-talky back to you- yes, this juggernaut was supposed to be about reaching out and connecting. All that comes with that. Including all the little gremlins that seem to want to run interference. All the craven excuses. The fears. The laziness. I don’t know about you, Pauly, but I find it very easy to talk myself out of picking up even a one pound phone (Paul Lynde’s liver?) never mind actually crossing the threshold and getting out at night.
      So this was a big baby step for me. And I did without making caca in my pants. Figuratively or otherwise.
      The one thing I wish I had at least touched on, was getting over the alcoholic tendency to file experiences that weren’t THE BEST THING THAT’S EVER HAPPENED TO ME! under TOTAL DISAPPOINTMENT. I noticed that inclination my first few years getting sober. If something wasn’t the complete ball-tickler of absolute delight, I considered it a disaster.
      Well, I didn’t do that this time. I looked back on all the positives, and came away from the whole thing quite content. That didn’t really come across in this ending.
      And for that, I need to fall on this sword I have conveniently propped up in the hallway. (I keep it there so I can fall on it either on my way to or back from the bathroom, all night long)
      Yeah, that whole all or nothing, swift victory or double-down on doom thinking seems to create some dramatic situations alright. Before, during, and after any event, make sure that everything depends on it. Everything depends on this or that moment corresponding with your anticipated version. Because you know how rare moments are. And how reasonable all your demands are. Life owes you that much. What with all the being kicked in the teeth with disappointment your whole life. It should at least pony up with one perfect and pleasant experience after another. Non-stop.
      Speaking of a perfect and pleasant experience, Lori and I both feel like we’re getting sore throats. Now, back in the day (my sister knows this well) even at the hint of feeling a snuffle coming on, I’d declared a national emergency. I was so hung up on feeling “beyond perfect” that getting sick was simply the end of life on planet earth. I’d be washing down handfuls of zinc lozenges with echinacea tea and brandy, in a desperate attempt to stave off feeling less than ideal for a few days.
      Meanwhile, the copious cups of steaming rum tea–that were supposedly “good for the bones”–were guaranteeing I’d get to have a hangover to go along with my flu. Thus making me feel even more…less-than-perfect.
      Which may or not be ironic.
      Today it’s different. Even though I can feel the pathogens multiplying in my larynx while I type this, a more carefree scallywag you won’t find. My only concern is perhaps to finish this up, before I actually start to cough phlegm across the screen. Mostly because nobody would believe it. Too pat. And I couldn’t use it. But other than that, I say bring it on. Sick. Healthy. Poor. Wealthy. Happy. Sad. Forlorn. Glad. Giddy. Mopey. Dry drunk or experience-strength-and-hopey. The scenery keeps changing. I don’t need to get hung up on any particular passing tableaux. I don’t need to–as my mentor Felipe used to warn me against–“fall in love with it.”
      Alright, for anybody following along at home, I officially feel like shit and should probably get to bed. Before I do, I want to thank you again, Paul, for the kick-ass comment. I want to say more nice things, but everything’s beginning to feel blurry and hot. My eyes are burning. Skin is crawling. Throat hurts to swallow.

      And I fucking love it.
      And that folks, is nothing short of a miracle.

      Okay miracle man, let me know what the judge says, as soon you know.
      Ill but not sick anymore,

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