Thoughts & Stories of Mike Straight #77

I really need to start writing these things a month ahead of the due date time.
    Of course I have to get this to Chris tomorrow - so here I am trying to get this done, while Ballast is hanging out in the living room and I soon have too cook for the potluck tonight. Of course, I could have done this a couple of days ago when I was staying at the Hardcore Holocaust Warehouse — where there was three of us sitting in the kitchen, one having zine reviews to do, one having record reviews, and me with the column deadline. We ‘collectively’ blew off our obligations to drink coffee and have pleasant conversation.  Yep, I have been procrastinating-and-well-nothing was flowing right.
I think this column is so difficult because I am trying to write about punk.
    After my last couple columns dealing with US imperialism, military recruitment, and the need for voting in local elections,  I wanted to step back  and write about something I actually like — as too often I feel that our culture is bound around what we are against instead of what we are for. ‘Our culture?’ you ask. Yep, our culture. Hmmm, Punk as a culture. I was trying to write about this strange, international, deviant counter-culture. Trying to write this while preparing for a workshop at an Anarchist conference, while talking about the 90s Autonomen with our German houseguest, trying to set up a benefit show, going on a dumpster run-doing all these punk activities, these things that make up life. I was trying to do some sort of pro-punk-column-as-a-culture-in-a-pseudo-scholarly type of way, but it wasn’t working, and then I started thinking that maybe this shit shouldn’t be written down. hmmm. Nope,  the glory’s of Punk just got to be spoken, so if you’re interested, find me on the street, give me some coffee and I will rant there. Or maybe next summer me and Chris Control will do a spoken word tour on “the great things about Punk” — (now you got to admit that may be more interesting to watch then another Disclone band. haha) Well, maybe not everything has to be written down or spoken. Maybe the best way is to live as an example - to build our communities and support systems, cause we really don’t have much except our learned skills and each other. So this month, no column about punk from me and instead I will leave you with a quote from Dick Hebdige as he was describing the early Punx:
    “The counter-culture is basically a mechanism for expressing a sense of independence and to refuse the subordinate status that is ingrained into the society. It is a way of forming something new and oppositional to what is the dominant stream of thought.” Or, as the ever so quotable Jake Filth once said, “Punk good, society bad.”

—Mike Straight -
Or at - House of Random - 4332 Parrish st. Philly, Pa. 19104

    1) So I have to admit, I am an avid NPR listener. I’m talking about waking up and turning on NPR with my first cup of coffee and listening while I work. I have to tell you it was quite a shock to hear ‘good kid’ Paulie’s voice when I hit the radio on button. For a second I thought one of my roommates left some audio zine in the tape player—but no, it was 90.9 FM. Yep, it was Paulie describing the life of squatting and dumpstering in NYC. The interviewer was pretty good, not condescending or exploitative. I do wish they talked about NYC’s crackdown on the homeless and the squatters in the last couple of years, but that is just what I would have talked about if someone from NPR would have found me in a dumpster. It was a good, fair representation of NY squatting life, but remember my punky friends, be wary of the media, for they often promote the worst aspects of Punk culture (see the coverage of the “Punk riot” in Montreal after the Exploited show)
    2) So, someone brought to my attention that I name a lot of “scenesters” in my columns. At first this confused me—scenesters? In my column??? Hell no! Looking back maybe someone has gotten the wrong impression, as I do often name my friends in columns, as they have contributed to something influential in my life, therefore they come out in stories. Logical, eh? So let me also say — just in case anyone gets the wrong idea — that Jeff Schwilk, Jason Angst or Tim Krupnik aren’t in any way “cool” or scenesters. Trust me. Ok, Angst might be at this point, but I still write of him as a young lad, fresh out of Yinzburgh. See, I got some inspiring and interesting friends - ones who’s adventures in yardsailing and porchsitting end up as column topics—but I like that sort of thing, it gives it a down-homey feel, that you (as the reader) can relate too—in theory I guess. Anyway if you don’t get it, you can always skip to the record reviews as I am sure that there is some American band trying to sound like some Scandinavian band from two decades ago. Oh why I am on the name-dropping kick, this months column was not proofread by PigPen TM, the lovable little spelling Gnome from West Philly - but instead we have a guest proofreader, Silly!, from Canada staying here at Maison de Random TM and I am putting him to work.
    3) Oh, I have an example of American Punx just not getting it, and it’s something they REALLY need to get a clue about. So I went to the La Faction show here in Philly and ran into Arno (a somewhat crazy guy from Liege, Belgium who has a tendency to lose his clothes in public spaces and interview Canadian dogs about their views on the president of France- Definitely, and clearly - not a “scenester”.) and Arno asks me if there is any food for the bands. Now I had earlier fed les Icons Dee Morte at the Maison de Random before the show, but for the rest of the bands going straight to the venue there was no food. I had to explain to Arno that ‘I’m actually not surprised that there is no food that night, since it is uncommon for promoters to actually cook for the bands — this is not at all like the European punk scene. Arno asks why and states “I see it in interviews of American bands, they all talk about how great touring Europe is because everyone feeds them but they never seem to think about doing it at home. Why is that???” So, once again, I am stuck trying to explain the stupidity of Americans—great. So all you “punk promoters” why are you NOT FEEDING TOURING BANDS! Is this such a difficult concept for you people to grasp! Do not tell touring bands where the Taco Hell or the expensive Vegan restaurant is — instead, FEED THEM. Here in case you all are at a loss about how to cook,  here are couple of my favorite Punk approved cookbooks that have plenty of Vegan recipes for you to choose - Don’t feed the Bears and Soy not oil. Ok if you don’t have access to either one of them  I will give you a basic recipe for a simple meal for a touring band.
Basic spaghetti - !1) Boil water 2) add pasta 3) cut vegetables and tofu 4) Add tomato sauce. 5) Bring to show for starving band. Simple, eh? Now try it!!!!
Since a lot of American punk promoters routinely forget to do simple “promoter” type things like flyer or collect money at the door, the least you people can do is feed the scared and starving European bands. While you are at it maybe you should try feeding American bands too, as maybe that way more people will start looking at punk as a community instead of a scene that you hangout in during your late teenage years.
    4) Oh, the Robot Haus wants to thank everyone who came to their house for the show after the Pointless fest and didn’t act like a JERK. For those who were smashing bottles in front of the neighbors houses...please get a clue and don’t come back to NW Philly.
    5) The USA is still an Empire, that hasn’t changed since the last issue of S&L and if you are a punk in the US military I got one word for you - Desert!