Friday, January 13, 2012

Is this PUNK?

In 1989 I worked as a stock-boy in a mens clothing store called Structure in San Francisco which has since become Mens Express. It was like a euro trash version of the Gap that sold a lot of off color khakis and block color polos to tourists with bad taste. Having been fixated on clothes since I was was boy I loved the job even though the clothes were lame. It was an easy job too.  My buddy James Nawrowki and I would just in unpack boxes of shirts or pants or whatever, steam em, put em on hangers and racks, and then take them to the floor. But mostly we would sit around and talk about movies and music. James was a really talented writer who, and I'm not making this up, really wanted to write a movie for Jim Belushi, and I would tell him everyday that's the stupidest thing I'd ever heard. That would annoy him and so he would go and put on this one album he loved and try and get me to slam dance so he could knock my shit into the enormous clothing boxes. The cassette we two person slammed to? Kerplunk by local punks Green Day. Green Day played Gilman Street in Oakland which officially made them punk in fact if you didn't play Gilman Street you were not in fact punk. According to the people who went to Gilman street. But the fact is punk is just a thing you say, it's an idea that can be applied to anything someone feels is antiestablishment. I never got that from Green Day. They were dirty, they made independent albums early on, they played shit holes and took speed. But then so did the Beatles.  I thought they were brats yes. But there is nothing about the music of that band that isn't aching to heard. They write pop songs. Which in not something anyone should ever be ashamed of. Billy Joe can't not write hooks. It's a fucking gift. In fact I think they they took a bigger risk making their last two epic rock and roll records and becoming the band they are supposed to then they ever did preaching to the choir about jerking off and not giving a shit. Giving a shit is punk in my book. Taking a risk and trying is punk. Willing to risk what you have, to alienate your base for your own artistic integrity is punk. Making a musical... kinda punk. What could be less Gilman street than that? And then today I saw the Green Day for Varvatos ad. I like John Varvatos. He makes sophisticated  Cranaby Street meets East Village NYC circa 77 menswear. Is it punk rock? Probably not. (Although Malcom McLaren dressed the pistols, and the Clash were fashion queens)  Is it unexpected given where they started? Sure. Is it a constant evolution in the face of certain criticism? Yes. Is that punk? I think so. But what do I know? I like sweaters


  1. I really like sweaters too, but I don't have many and don't wear them often. Sweaters are like my LSD, (never done LSD, but stick with me for the metaphor), in the rare occasion I put on a sweater, and it is rare, like maybe a few times a decade rare. The sweater takes me to a place, usually in the past, probably the last time I wore that sweater, but it's fun to take that trip and it would not be possible if I wore the sweaters too much. The only thing better than a clothing item you love to wear everyday is something that you love just as much to wear one week a decade.

    Now I gotta go find that turquoise sweater and watch Billy Jack.

  2. Great article. And that's coming from a giant pair of punk tits crammed into a sweater.