Thursday, January 27, 2011

Slack Indeed

I really do like my Slacker Radio station, but today it treated me to the most absurd review ever - and it has some SERIOUSLY flawed reviews on tap.

Mixing heavy metal riffs with punk's fury, Van Halen were onto a whole new sound

Anything more antithetical to punk, than long haired metal men, I can scarcely imagine. Not that I don't love Eddie and - yes - even Diamond Dave. But the punks I knew said, "It's 1983 (or whatever the year) - can't you affor a ****ing haircut!???" as often as they said, "Can I bum a cig?" - so VH was not on anyone's list of must-have punk properties. Metal fans were a joke to the punks I knew. And when I married a hair metal front man - as much as my brother loved my ex husband - don't think I didn't take a few jokes about my thing for Hair Boys along the way (and still do).

For at least twenty years now, I have had to contend with people who think The Clash were punk rock. For fifteen or more, it's been the commoditization of pop as "punk", in everything from the sentiment "I am all about the leopard" to Avril Lavigne to (Lord help me to even say the words) Green Day. I once saw a movie in which Adrien Brody explained to me that The Who were punk.

I once thought that was perhaps the most baffling use of the term I'd ever heard.

This, though, goes right on the shelf beside The Who.


Mind you, I love Van Halen, and I love The Who, too.

Mind this, too, though: I am not now, nor ever have I been, a punk. There was punk music I liked, and much I was afraid of, growing up with a real one in the house. For me, punk's anger was manifest regularly, in the person of my brother, whose closed door did nothing to stifle That Noise. At 43 now, noise has a visceral, deep position in my own musical tastes.

But that doesn't make a punk. I never was one. Very, very few people actually have been, if the truth were told. And the label grows emptier and emptier and emptier.

The Who had some anger. They had politics. They had a lot to say, and Daltry could yell it wonderfully. Punk? As much as I.

Van Halen?

That's just BAFFLING. Not to say what I hope some will be thinking, that it's actually laughable.


Mixing heavy metal riffs with punk's fury, Van Halen were onto a whole new sound ...


Wow. No, it just doesn't get any less brain-twisting, reading it again. But then, I am insufferably narrow in what I allow the label and definition of punk, in my mind. A good ninety-nine percent of what "kids today" think was (or - HAH - is) punk never came even close. The Clash. Good heavens.

I don't even think TSOL is "really" punk - though they've made their share of a living on it, from people who do. What they don't know, and I do, is that TSOL was largely dismissed as kind of Romanti-Goth before the term had been invented. I remember seeing "Suburbia" (AKA "The Wild Side" - and a more suprising Penelope Spheeris joint I can tell you you'll never even imagine), seeing them performing, and having to be embarrassed - as the NOT PUNK girl - for LIKING them, because they were interlopers plopped in the middle of a movie about kids who "should have" hated them.

Even I knew (loving the band as I did) that TSOL wasn't what the punks I knew considered to be "loaded with cred" shall we say. Shoot, I sure knew Jack, with his Billy Idol costume design, was an actor, surrounded by "real" kids. He looked it. And so did TSOL, in a way.

Van Halen and punk's fury.

I have a feeling that one'll keep getting funnier and funnier. Can't wait for my next conversation with my brother. This could be good for a bit of breathless mileage.



Mo said...

Shit. The Clash ain't punks? I knew none other than Bunny Wailer said they were a great reggae band, but thought they could maintain dual citizenship. Now I am crushed.

DLM said...


It is a quirk of my contrarian nature that even as I claim no ownership on punk rockery, I still must be heedlessly snobby and exclusivist about it. I figure: if a group was melodic enough for me to purchase their recordings, they clearly could not have been punk. Well, or to cruddily record their recordings, anyway. As I recall (and probably still have the Memorex to prove) my TSOL was made for me by you. Still, there's fun to be had in a good bout of perverse contrarian-ness. NO DUAL CITIZENSHIP. For punk, as must be made manifest by age-ism and snippy-ness, was pure. Man.

Hee again.