“One Way or Another” is seeping out from the tiny speakers of the television and when it reaches my ears I am dumbstruck. Its the audio for a Swiffer commercial. Blondie for housewives, I never thought I’d see the day. When I was a teenager and felt all the appropriate angst and awkwardness punk rock was my savior. Punk rock supplied all the necessary elements needed for the affirmation of a young man in conflict with the world. I suppose just like all the youth statements that ruled previously, punk rock seemed like the ultimate in societal obliteration. I drove my punk rock tank in full operational regalia and crashed through the doors of the norm, taking no prisoners. Punk gave me purpose and meaning. Feeling out of place everywhere I went, I had a home and an extended family at the hardcore matinees at CBGB’s and it gave me inspiration and confidence to do my own thing. If it wasn’t for punk I would never have had the belief in myself necessary to start doing my own music and artwork and the success Ive had through the years in both fields has much to do with punk rock.
So now to flip through the channels and stumble upon “Pressure Drop” by the Clash or “Lust for Life” by Iggy Pop is in a sense rendering all past idealistic notions lame. I think it was Robert Anton Wilson who said a ‘liberal can become a Conservative in twenty years without changing any of his views’ and although tragic and core shattering, I feel as if this statement holds some truth. I have never bought into the system, and never will, that will never change, but the thought of having punk rock by my proverbial side can be no longer. The illusion is crushed. Don’t get me wrong, all punk rockers of the past aren’t shameless sellouts, but the few that Ive witnessed recently are well enough for me to wake up from the dreams of the past. Ive never truly had much faith in anything, so for me the obliteration of the punk rock dream is really quite traumatic.
Punk was about the absolute destruction of all belief systems. The government, arena rock, over exposed art stars, Hollywood’s broken dream, fashion, advertising, basically any institutionalized norm spoon fed to an unsuspecting public. My fellow believers and I were certain that we had a voice in punk and held our heads high with pride knowing that we stood for something, that we couldn’t be bought or sold, that we had integrity. The few songs Ive heard accompanying commercials dos not earase the pride I feel in knowing what I stood for as a youth, or today for that matter, I simply feel slightly deflated. I wonder as well where I would go if I were a teenager today to find those who feel the same way I do. Punk is at best a cartoon, a pop configuration, a plastic insta-cool strip mall rub on tattoo version of its past glory.
I will always be punk rock, its something that once initiated, is in your blood for life. People like me can spot a bootleg poser from miles away, we can smell one in a crowd of thousands. Its this sort of bravado, this kind of pride that we treasure as our own.
How dare they cheapen, commodify, buy us.
Look what they’ve done to my song.