June 11, 2011

A Punk State Of Mind

"Beethoven broke all the rules, and turned out pieces of breath-taking rightness."
- Leonard Bernstein From: deviantART

I am not a card carrying punk, although I do appreciate listening to a good, thrashing, high energy tune or two before going out and battling greed and denial for the day.

I respect any group that rejects mainstream bullshit, and makes a point of destroying corrosive concepts such as high society, luxury, and privilege.

That is how I found myself reading "Portrait of a Thousand Punks: Hard Core Logo" by Canadian artist Nick Craine. It is a brilliant graphic novel that, through the telling of Hard Core Logo's story, tells the brief, flaming story of the punk movement.

Some would say that punk is dead. Thousands of punks, and the punk deep inside each one of us would disagree, for the energy of punk is the energy that we will need to radically change the world. But what is punk?

In the Introduction to Portrait of a Thousand Punks, Michael Timmins (Cowboy Junkies) provides his answer. I share an excerpt from his introduction here.

What is punk?

"Punk is: Buddy Bolden high-stepping through the French quarter, blowing maniacally; Robert Johnson returning from the crossroads; Hank Williams with his voice and pen spilling tears and blood; Charlie Parker cutting all comers on 58th Street; Elvis Presley launching into "That's All Right"; John Lennon shredding his vocal cords on "Twist and Shout"; Ornette Coleman weaving his plastic alto through smaller and smaller concentric circles; and Patti Smith firing her opening salvo with the line "Jesus died for somebody's sins but not mine."

Punk is standing up and declaring "Fuck this and Fuck that... I'll do it my way."

It is taking on convention and
deliberately
forcefully
and most importantly
gleefully
tearing convention down.

It is action and commitment.
It is not hair colour, clothing, accents, age, record sales,
recording contracts, press clippings, poses, T-shirts, badges,
body fluids, videos, or tattoos.

It is energy.
An energy complex and mysterious enough to destroy and create at the same time.
Not possible to harness.
Not possible to bottle.
Not possible to recreate once dissipated.
Of the eight punks listed earlier six died
prematurely.

An energy that burns too hot to be contained by mere skin.
It is a form of expression that hits you
so hard    and
so deep   and
so meaningfully            it
grabs you by the stomach
picks you up out of your chair
drags you across the floor
and knocks you so silly that by the time it's through with you
you are seeing the world
your life
in a completely new light."

Yes, that is exactly what we need - to see the world, and our lives, in a completely new light. In the light of simplicity, a slow pace, equality, and fairness. In the light of freedom to be who you are, and to follow your passions while being supported by your community. In the light of living lightly on the land.

Let's question the damaging ways of civilization and capitalism. When we find things we don't like, let's have enough attitude and bravery to say, "Fuck this and Fuck that - I'll do it my way."

Let's break all the rules and create a world of 'breathtaking rightness'.

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