R.I.P. Lou Reed

If you can't join 'em and you can't beat 'em...fuck 'em

If you can’t join ’em and you can’t beat ’em…fuck ’em

“When did punk rock become so safe?” —“The Separation of Church and Skate” NOFX

Today I shaved my face…bald.  I bald my face in honor of Lou Reed.  It was my only move…I might have tried to become a bigger asshole–were that sustainable.  Instead I shaved my face–bald.  I’ve never been much of a “joiner”, a fact I never noticed until my friend Matt pointed out to me that we shared that in common.  Still, I felt the need to show some solidarity…I never joined punk…it joined me.  As I age I thank God more and more that punk did join me…

Lou Reed was an asshole…as the days solidify the fact of Reed’s death, beware the hero-worshipers who’ll remind you of the man’s genius and white-wash his truth, but he was an important asshole…at least he was to a young me.  Lou Reed taught me two words that were buried deep inside of me…he taught me that the golden calves of polite society deserved no concessions from anyone who took the time to pay attention.  He taught me that it was okay to shit in the punchbowl from time to time.  He taught me that it was okay to shit in the punchbowl as polite society danced despondently, their dead eyes meeting with the smug sneer of self-assured indifference, drinking deeply from the bowl as dark-skinned bodies swung in Mississippi breezes and women were made to feel less than and junkies were treated as the source of social ills–not their logical conclusion and I was stuck in sub-urban Port Orchard–made to feel small because I liked to wear myself in a way that rubbed everyone every wrong way…Lou Reed taught me the words: Fuck You.

Lou Reed made it clear to pilgrims, who climbed the mountain of the Bowery in search of answers from acerbic quick-witted nihilistic gurus, that they were stupid.  Not because it is latently stupid to seek out messiahs, but because when messiah seekers are not made to feel stupid they become bloated and arrogant.  The Ramones may have made glitz irrelevant…Lou Reed made it clear that The Ramones were irrelevant…as was he.  He found it ridiculous that journalists would ask him what music he liked, asking the sycophants from Punk (the original zine): why would they care what kind of music he liked, he didn’t care what kind they liked.  He understood that the failings of douche-bag-hedonistic-arena-rock-double-album-recording sots didn’t stem from a weakness of content, but that the content ultimately suffered because of hero-worship and a spineless propensity to buy into the bullshit of said worship.

Reed did buy into the bullshit of his own mythos.  Anyone who is surprised by that misses the point.  The ultimate irony would be a spotless Lou Reed.  Reed wasn’t trying to be ironic…he was being clear.  Now he is gone, and the world is no worse for wear.  He came and changed everything…to mourn his death beyond that would make little sense to a man who once wrote: ” Well, you know what happens after dark/When rattlesnakes lose their skins and their hearts/And all the missionaries lose their bark…”

So today I shaved my face to honor the life of Lou Reed…Rest in Peace, Lou…I hardly knew you…it’s the way you wanted it…

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Punk Show @ The Chuck

“In baseball, you don’t know nothing.”

-Yogi Berra

Saturday night, April the 14th, my friend Matt and I went to a show at The Charleston on Callow Avenue in Bremerton.  The Chuck, a name given to the venue as both a term of endearment and further evidence that we have precious little time to communicate in this mixed-up crazy world, is a punk venue.  There are no two ways about it.  It is an all-ages club that serves alcohol; as such it requires a little more security than your average all-ages club.  The Chuck pulls this off without seeming too Draconian…nice work Chuck.  This was my first time enjoying a show at The Charleston, and I was surprised by how perfect a punk venue it is.  The room is small, and there is a bar from which you have a great view of the stage.  The club smells like a punk club should, a mixture of human waste and hobo sex which I found delightfully reminiscent of my years playing in similar clubs, save for Portland clubs which incorporated notes of crack smoke in the aroma…least ways that’s the way it was in the early nineties (90’s).  Matt had outgrown his love of this smell.

This night six (6) bands were there to shine…and shine some did, but alas it was a punk show.  Punk shows are wont to stuff ten (10) pounds of shit into six (6) pound bags.

The first band was a Belfair WA outfit name of “Fresh Paint”.  I’m not sure if this is meant to assure you that its color will become lighter as it dries (which is the opposite of what the band needed) or this band is as boring as watching fresh paint dry.  Actually, this band had a beautifully selected rhythm section who was plagued by a young front-man who lacked the angst his lyrics demanded, and an underwhelming persona at the guitar spot.  But, they were not horrible…and that is the best I can do…hopefully the same is not true for Fresh Paint.

Next up was a band called Savage Henrys.  A three (3) piece out of Richland WA, yeah that’s the east-side, they came out west to melt your ugly mugs right off of that sub-standard substrate you casually call a head.  These guys were built for speed, and they knew it.  When they fire-walled the throttle they didn’t give two congressional shits about whether or not you’d had the good sense to grab a safety rail.  With the movie Tron playing on the movie screen behind them, they played around five (5) songs.  It was the kind of experience that erased my cynicism about music for fifteen (15) blissful moments.  Then it was over, and I wanted more…and that was perfect.  Long live Savage Henrys.

A band called Burn, Burn, Burn had the unenviable task of following The Henrys.  They hail from Tacoma WA…Washington’s cradle of punk.  They are the type of punk band in which a diabetic would eventually die.  I say this for two reasons: (1) They are high-energy and (2) They are a five (5) piece (which in terms of punk lingo means broke).  I could imagine any of these guys going into a coma on stage should a blood-sugar issue rear its nasty head.  The band was good fun, the gang vox sounded great.  The lead vocalist had a fascination with the Cleveland Indians which my friend Matt thought was cool.  Then Matt told me that Brian Wilson of the San Francisco Giants was injured which I thought was not cool, as he is the most interesting thing about baseball—the sport of accountant despots.  I’d see them again…Burn, Burn, Burn that is.

During Burn’s set my friend Matt walked into the men’s room just in time to witness a long-haired straight-edger pissing into a urinal from the distance of seven (7) feet.  Matt began to laugh.  The kid inquired as to what Matt found humorous to which Matt answered you man, you.

After this, the line-up got a little confusing.  But it matters little.  The bands were not as good as the Henrys or Burn; the show had peaked in the middle.  After two (2) other bands played for what seemed like the north-side of forever, one more band made the stage; they had inexplicably been promoted to the headlining act.

Y.I.A is a four (4) piece band, who call Bremerton WA home.  The show was pretty good; it was everything you’d want in a punk show with bright spots from the drummer, and the lead vox.  The lead vocalist looked like a homeless man with questionable emotional stability.  This is an important element in a band that is “neither here nor there” musically.  It forces one to keep an eye on the disheveled lunatic with the microphone to such an extent that you tend to overlook the middle-of-the-road aesthetic the rest of the band oozes.  This aesthetic was not shared by the drummer.  He was more than capable of handling the responsibilities to which he was assigned.  All in all I’d see Y.I.A again, but I don’t think they should headline.

The show was great and I met some really cool people, I will return to The Chuck.  That is all.