An Irregular Column
by Mykel Board
"You can tell how punk somebody is by how often they go to the post office.” --Kyle Nooneman
“To see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower Hold infinity in the palms of your hand and eternity in an hour.” --William Blake
Almost every month, I complain about the internet. Perhaps, though, like Blake's grain of sand, the world is contained somewhere in anything, even Facebook. Right now, I'm reading the Facebook group Old School Hardcore Kids. It starts me on the path to this column. Let's look at what it says.
From one post to another, when it's not YouTube videos of Agnostic Front, it's debate about what's real hardcore. On Facebook and in this zine... One month after the next... Letters columns and reviews... some debate rages... if not hardcore... at least punk. What is it? Who is it? And most importantly, who it is NOT? This column will settle that.
First... as you know from the myriad of editorials, letters to the editor, interview comments... if you allow your song to be used on anything that has corporate connections. IT'S NOT HARDCORE.
THE SCENE: Tom Vomit is in a crisis. He's been offered a job as a designer in the mega-evil ad agency, AD BOOSTERS. Tons of cash. The only problem: he has to make an ad for Walmart, the most evil corp of corpAmerica. He has one way out.
His band, the Decolators, has a song that Toyota wants. If he sells the rights to that song, he and his bandmates can live from the royalties. He won't have to take a job whoring himself to the corporatocracy. He can live from his music... his dream since he was a 14 year old punk rocker listening to Green Day. Music or evil corporate hell? What does he choose? He chooses music...and gets thrown out of the punkrock club because of it.
Get it Tom? It wouldn't matter if you got nothing from the song or if it's a benefit to save French anarchist bombers from the guillotine. If it's got a corporate logoTM on it, it ain't punk-- and neither are you!
Of course, that doesn't go far enough. No matter how macho, shirtless, ripped the picture on the cover is, if the music is poppy, danceable (rather than moshable), or if it makes you smile and not grit your teeth and clench your fist. IT'S NOT HARDCORE!
THERE'S MORE: no matter how nasty it sounds, if the musicians look like dorks... if the singer has glasses... or the cover shows a bunch of cute guys in Hawaiian shirts and porkpie hats... IT IS SOFT! IT IS NOT HARDCORE!
FLASHBACK. It's 1986: I'm in Bleecker Bob's... fishing through the cheap punk bin. At the next milk crate is Fairly Mulligan, bass player for the hardest band in New York: THE NEANDERTHALS. I pull a record from the case and show it to him. It's from 1982, a band called The Ancestors. I heard a lot about them, but never actually HEARD them. On the cover is a drawing of a guy in glasses wearing a tie. The name of the LP is FILO GOES FOR AN MBA. I show it to Fairly.
“Waddaya thinka this?” I ask him. “I heard of 'em but I don't know 'em.”
Fairly looks at the LP and just about spits.
“It's shit!” he says. “You can't be HARDcore and wear glasses.... and a fuckin' tie? Are you kidding? Somebody should kill that guy.”
I put the record back.
Flash ahead to 1993: It's GG's notorious last show, at the Gas Station in New York. Everybody knows about it. The chaos, the shit-slinging, the fatal aftermath. But what everybody DOESN'T know is what happened AFTER the show... at THE MARS BAR (RIP).
The scummiest bar in New York. It somehow managed to last well into this century. I've been there with Ivan Merma and Gilberto... post WTC.
In 1993, you took your life... or at least your balls... in your hand when you went into the place. Several of us refugees from the GG show go there to have a few drinks to recover from what we saw.
I walk into the bathroom. enter a stall, sit on the toilet and remove GG's shit from my jacket. I use the corner of my wallet to scrape. Then I wrap each stinky brown piece in a paper napkin. My plan is to sell the wrapped GG shit for $5... in front of CBs at the next hardcore matinee.
As I scrape, the door thumps. At first, I think someone's knocking to get in, but the door doesn't lock... just open it and come on in. Then there are more thumps, on the door... outside... everywhere. Only one thing sounds like breaking wood. That is breaking wood. I hear that sound. I also hear some groans... some “motherfucker!” Gunshots do not come, but they wouldn't surprise me.
A lull in the smashing, bashing, breaking, crashing, tumbling... I push the door open... slightly... The bar looks like the aftermath of a mafia hit. The back mirror is shattered... shards hang at odd angles... most of it on the floor and bartop. Not one stool is vertical... few are in one piece. On the floor, from my vantage point, I see the leather clad arm of someone whose body I can't see... the hand holds a half-shattered bottle of Olde English 800. Blood puddles on the floor under that hand.
I stick my head out a littler further. There on the bartop, in a grey hooded sweatshirt, unzipped, is K Rappo, singer for one of the hardest bands in NY: YOUNG PEOPLE NOW.
“Them walls are broke down, huh?” he says when he sees me crawling out of the bathroom.
“Waddaya mean?” I ask.
“GG ain't so tough,” he answers. “He says DRINK, FIGHT, AND FUCK? Hah, he's got it wrong. Hardcore is not about drinking or fucking. It's THE FIGHT. Listen, Mykel, get this straight. YOU ARE NOT HARDCORE IF YOU DON'T FIGHT.”
FLASH AHEAD A WEEK: THE NEADERTHALS are playing A7. They've broken up and gotten back together more times than a Hollywood couple. Great show, but that's not the important point. AFTER the show, I see Fairly Mulligan in the corner, breathing hard... showing off his chest. He spots me and waves.
“Hey Mykel,” he says. “I got something for you.”
Grabbing my hand, he pulls me into the A7 bathroom.
Now, I've been thirsting for his glutei maximi since I first saw him as a drummer for The Motivaters in 1980. Is he finally going to give up that anal hymen? My hopes rise like my penis when he pushes open a stall door. But then something strange happens.
Instead of dropping trou and bending over, he pushes on the back wall of the stall. It moves and we enter a secret room.
It's dark. Before my eyes adjust I see nothing. A sound comes through the blackness... like a muffled pigeon chirp... or the struggling screams of someone whose mouth is duct-taped shut. Bingo!
As my eyes adjust, I make out a platform in the middle of the dark room. Tied down to that platform-- a limb stretched toward each corner-- is what looks like a naked white boy wearing black-rimmed glasses. It IS a naked white boy wearing black-rimmed glasses. It's Filo Zuckerman, singer from The Ancestors.
“See him?” asks Fairly... as if I could miss him. “He thinks he's hardcore. No tattoos and the songs? Titles like You're the One, and Silly Girl. Nothing about UNITY or THE CREW or AMERICA. Just love songs... and he calls himself hardcore?”
Something glints in Fairly's hand. I just see a faint flash before I realize that it's a pocket switchblade now plunged into the chest of the boy on the platform. It must have hit a vein, because blood spurts like a geyser... covering Fairly's face and chest.
Stabbing is not enough. Fairly slices downward and then flings the knife aside. With both hands he reaches into the slit and pulls out Filo's still beating heart. I can barely keep from fainting at the gore. Fairly leans over the pulsating cardiac, I watch him take a deep bite. It seems to explode as the blood-engorged organ spews red everywhere.
Chewing, then swallowing, Fairly looks at me. His face covered in blood like a kid's face... covered in blueberries after a pie-eating contest, Fairly looks at me and smiles.
“Mykel,” he says. “You're not HARDCORE until you've eaten human flesh.”
ENDNOTES: [email subscribers (firstname.lastname@example.org) or blog viewers (mykelsblog.blogspot.com/) will get live links and a chance to post comments on the column]
-->Apology dept: I don't answer letters in the letter section. That section belongs to the readers. I have this column. It's not fair if I have the last word both places. Here, I want to answer a letter and to apologize for an error. I quoted Ron Paul on Muammar Qhaddaffi. Though the quote was from the Ron Paul website, Ron did not actually write it. I missed that. Still, written by RP or not, the quote is correct in its analysis of why that great Libyan was killed.
-->Oh that again dept: Another letter was about my column comparing a coach's sex with some kids to Apple/Steve Job's exploitation of thousands of Chinese workers, including several who committed suicides because they couldn't take the pressure. I asked why the former got all the press and attention while the latter was clearly more evil.
The MRR letter ONLY attacked my “belief that there is nothing wrong with a 50 year old man having sex with an 10 year old boy.” It made no mention of the Apple-caused deaths. I guess it proved my point.
-->It's not as bad as you thought dept: This Week Magazine reports that the break of the “housing bubble” is not what it seems. While homes valued under $1 million have fallen an average of 1.5 percent in value over the last year, fear not. Homes valued over $1 million dollars have risen 0.7 percent in the same time.
Says real estate economist Stan Humphries, “Luxury is the best-performing segment of the housing market right now.”
-->But they can watch us dept: The Freeman website reports that: In at least three states (Illinois, Massachusetts, and Maryland), it is now illegal to record an on-duty police officer even if the encounter involves you and may be necessary to your defense, and even if the recording is on a public street where no expectation of privacy exists.
The legal justification for arresting the “shooter” rests on existing wiretapping or eavesdropping laws, with statutes against obstructing law enforcement sometimes cited. Illinois, Massachusetts, and Maryland are among the 12 states in which all parties must consent for a recording to be legal unless, as with TV news crews, it is obvious to all that recording is underway. Since the police do not consent, the camera-wielder can be arrested. Most all-party-consent states also include an exception for recording in public places where “no expectation of privacy exists” (Illinois does not.) In practice this exception is not being recognized.
-->Anarchy in Bloomingdales dept: Anarchist News Dot Org reports that the Axe perfume company is making a new fragrance. You guessed it Anarchy Perfume. (Does it smell like tear gas?) One of the commercials for it is: A female police officer chases a masked jewelry thief through a sun-drenched cityscape. Sprinting, he pulls off his mask, sheds his jacket and dumps his bag of loot; she throws off her police hat, undoes her utility belt and drops her weapons to the ground. She’s no longer a cop; he’s no longer a criminal. They stare at each other with unbridled desire. The words “Nothing will ever be the same again” appear on the screen, followed by the warning “Anarchy is coming.”
Can Eau d'Punk be far behind?
--> If it takes the blood of one Christian boy to make 40 matzohs, how many matzos can you make from 143 Christian boys dept: Kyle Nooneman, whose quote starts this column, sent me this from the Huffington Post:
Parents of students at Beaver Ridge Elementary School in Norcross, Ga., are outraged at the school district's using examples of slavery in math word problems, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
The word problems in question include references to slavery and "beatings."
Here are some examples:
"Each tree had 56 oranges. If 8 slaves pick them equally, then how many would each slave pick?" and
"If Frederick got two beatings per day, how many beatings did he get in 1 week?"
-->I wish he were right dept: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie attacked President Obama as encouraging a nation that “places comfortable lies ahead of difficult truths” and a person who is trying to “divide the country by demonizing the wealthy.” If only it were true! The wealthy ARE demons. Much more than Muslims or non-working people or old people that the Republicans are trying to demonize. Obama, unfortunately, could never be so good as to demonize the right people.
-->That's so ghetto dept: Kyle also sent me this one about Microsoft. They makes this mapping app to keep drivers out of dangerous neighborhoods. In modern American cities, this means places where there are a lot of Negroes or Hispanics.
Since most urban crime is between people who know each other and not random drivers, one critic of the app suggests:
A more useful app would be for young black men to be able to map blocks with the highest risks of their being pulled over or stopped on the street by police," he said. "That phenomenon affects many more people than the rare occurrences of random violence against motorists driving through 'bad' neighborhoods."
I say, yeah, but the guys being pulled over by the cops usually can't afford iPhones to use the app on... unless they steal them.