It was a week ago tomorrow that I sat right here, on the dirty ass sofa I have, next to my Dad. The weather was about the same as it is today… grey, chilly and drizzling. My Dad lives a couple of hundred miles away and doesn’t like to make the drive over the mountains from the Western Slope of Colorado to the Front Range and the city. In fact he dreads it and complains about it the entire time he is here. He is pretty anti-social and has a low tolerance for people and therefore doesn’t get out much.
The dude trashes my house every time he is here too! He scatters his shit from one end to the other and constantly loses things like his phone and keys. He always brings his scruffy, mangy and stinking dog who growls at my son every chance she gets. Actually that is kind of helpful as I use it as motivator when my son doesn’t want to fall in line and be a good little boy. “Johnnie, put your shoes on”, his reply is often a solid “no” and I follow it with “Johnnie pleeeaaasssse put your shoes on”. “No”. But when that stinky mutt is here I can add “Or I’ll sick the growling dog on you”. He quickly complies. Now before you go ape-shit and think you should call Child Services please understand it is done in fun and with smiles…but it still works.
This time my Dad was over for a double header. The day before was my daughters 10th birthday. We had the most delicious cheese cake ever. Ever! So good that my Dad went back to where we got it the next day and bought two more to take home. He is easily impressed because, like I said, he doesn’t get out much.
But the birthday was over…and this day we were going to ROCK! Ya see my Dad sprung for tickets to see Roger Waters’ ‘The Wall’. It was going to be my Dad, my brother and me together for this epic concert. But it was as we were sitting there watching ‘The Six Million Dollar Man’ Season 1 on DVD that it struck me. Well a couple of things hit me: 1) the last time either of us had watched the ‘Six Million Dollar Man’ was about 30+ years ago. I was stoked beyond explanation but I think my Dad was about as thrilled as he was 30 years ago watching it, I don’t think he is much of fan…and 2) I was a pretty lucky dude to be 41 years old and excited to go see a concert with my Dad. Last year we saw CHEAP TRICK and BLUE OYSTER CULT and the year before he took me to see BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN. The old man rocks and he even got us tickets to see VAN HALEN! FUCK YEAH!…
In that regard I guess I was fortunate that growing up my parents were not completely freaked out by the music I was listening to and in fact I can remember my parents asking me what bands I liked. When I was really young they were cool then even and bought me KISS records. On the last day of school in 2nd grade my parents picked me up and took me out for a treat. I think they expected me to pick out a toy but I picked out KISS ‘Destroyer’. \m/ My Mom used to paint my brother and my faces like KISS and let us run around acting crazy and pretending to spit blood and fire.
When I was in 4th grade my Dad purchased The Wall and I had a dubbed a copy of it. I brought it to school and we listened to it on my little, single speaker, Sears catalog, black, tape recorder. “Teacher! Leave them kids alone” struck a chord with 10 year old me. I didn’t know what they were singing about or what it meant , I just knew it sounded cool and it moved something inside of me.
My Dad seemed to recognize the generation gap between he and his father and tried to take some interest in what my brother and I were getting into. Christmas morning saw Star Wars figures under the tree next to KISS and QUIET RIOT records. Back to school shopping was a trip to a record store for a new OZZY OSBOURNE or MOTLEY CRUE shirt. My parents were being pretty cool about this rock n’ roll thing, but I came to find out it wasn’t like that for a lot of my friends.
I had friends whose parents didn’t see things as clearly; and at school I’d hear the stories of parents smashing records, ripping down posters and even setting shit on fire! Burning up a dudes records and posters is fucking hardcore. You have to be really pissed and ignorant to actually set fire to the shit. What is going on in your head if you think you need to torch your kids’ stuff? Damn! The worst I got was my Dad thinking MOTLEY CRUE were girls until I showed him the gatefold to ‘Shout at the Devil’ and Vince without a shirt…
I’ll never understand why the people left in charge of children are always the most disconnected from the youth. Where do these sadistic, uninformed assholes come from? I’ve really only had a handful of teachers in my life, that like my Dad, actually stopped and asked me questions and tried to connect with me. Most were too busy believing the hype and were ready to burn books, records, posters, whatever, further alienating the youth and basically making them feel out of place and like shit. And then they wonder why kids turn to drink and drugs.
When I was in 8th grade I was called to the office out of the blue one day over the PA speaker in the classroom without any explanation. Of course that drew stares and degrading comments like “fucking loser” and whatever else the pea brained sheeple could think of. I reported to the office to find out I had to see the guidance counselor! Why? What did I do?
In Junior High the guidance counselor was more for kids that got into a lot of trouble or had trouble at home or something like that. Things were cool with me so I had no idea why I was being summoned before this high and mighty all-knowing jerk. This was weird and way out of the ordinary.
Well, it turned out that this arrogant asshole watched one too many Geraldo Rivera specials and called on me because I listened to Heavy Metal (I went to a small school, there weren’t many of us). She immediately questioned my IRON MAIDEN ‘the Trooper’ shirt, my studded arm band and my fingerless leather gloves.
She interrogated me on Dungeons and Dragons, on my home life and if…I was a Satan worshiper!!!! What the FUCK!!!! “I am 13 and like IRON MAIDEN, I wear this goofy shit because I think it looks cool and it’ rebellious. Why do I want to rebel? Because people like you are so fucking clueless and have your head so far up your ass that you talk shit. BULLSHIT!” Actually I didn’t say any of that, I was scared shitless. I told my parents and my Dad had to call the school and raise some hell.
Well, my parents ended up divorcing and my Dad was hooked up with this other lady who didn’t quite seem to get it. She was a semi-practicing Catholic and was just clueless. She had some demons in her past that hadn’t quite processed or learned how to deal with and so she had a knack to easily explode into violent fits of rage.
To make things even more interesting for her, my brother and I started getting into punk rock. She’d flip out, go totally bonkers, fucking ape-shit! She’d scream like a banshee and throw us out of the house at least once a week. It was a rough time, especially for my brother, but we pulled through it. This was certainly a low in our lives and it was our music and our friends that pulled us through. This was the mid to late 80’s and the music was great. We were getting into some killer stuff. We were young, vulnerable, rebellious and ready to piss off anyone we could, especially the Crazy-as—fuck- step-monster- lady!
In the 80’s you had to waste a lot of time trying to convince people you weren’t worshipping Satan. But the day had come and I was making the jump from JUDAS PRIEST and MOTLEY CRUE to….SLAYER. Back in the day SLAYER was FUCKING SCARY! They had blood, up-side down crosses and sang some evil fucking shit man! There was no Black Metal yet, this was IT. SLAYER were evil and shit and if you listened to SLAYER people pretty much thought you were fucked in the head. Anyway I had just gotten myself a copy of SLAYER’s ‘Hell Awaits’ off my friend Lance who’s parents had told him to get rid of it. I wasn’t ballsy enough to just march into the house with this slab of wax under my arm right in front of Crazy-as—fuck- step-monster- lady, so I hid it under a towel and had some story that I had gone swimming or something, no need for unnecessary confrontation. I think that’s why I got in less trouble than my brother did and really I got in less trouble than most of my friends did throughout my growing up. I knew just how far to push things and when to back off. When to go for it and when to lay low and attract little to no attention.
My brother just charged forward with a “fuck it” attitude and always had his ass in the ringer. He didn’t give a fuck! A lot of my friends didn’t seem to have any sort of governor and were always getting busted for stupid shit. Stupid shit that I was often a part of but had the common sense to duck out of or stop before the cops were on the scene. I’ll call it my “spider-sense” for the sake of conversation…whatever…that keen sense of awareness saved my ass a lot!
However…one time we were sitting in the park listening to SLAYER or something of that nature and the Mom of this girl I liked happened upon us. She freaked her shit out and ran home to tell her daughter she couldn’t hang out with me because I had just been seen at the park sitting in a circle doing some sort of satanic ritual. What the fuck?! I think we were drinking a sixer…Pretty fucking evil you clueless twat! Of course the girl went to school and told her dim witted friends that her Mom saw me and my friends at the park worshipping Beelzebub!
I think it was morning. I don’t know why the Crazy-as—fuck- step-monster- lady was in our room but she was. Thankfully she was over on my brother’s side of the room and leaving me alone. If memory serves I think the dude was listening to the DEAD KENNEDY’s and Jello Biafra was letting loose with a barrage of profanity! Uh-oh…There was no way to hide from it, she heard every last word. My brother and I looked at each other in horror and only as my brother’s gaze was intercepted with her death stare did he blurt out “Josh listens to Satanic music!”. Wah? What just happened? Wasn’t my little brother about to catch holy hell for that crazy ass punk shit he was listening to? What did he say? Why is she coming after me now?… Well, that evasive maneuver of my brother’s surely got me into some deep shit and most likely got me or both of us booted out of the house …again… At least until our Dad could settle her down … again. That was something too; when one of us would get booted out the other would leave too, even if they had avoided the hell-fire and had no reason other than brotherhood to join their rejected sibling.
Well my “luck” as a young rocker in the Reagan era had apparently run out. None of my shit was getting torched but the Crazy-as—fuck- step-monster- lady was surely putting a spin on things. Christmas was approaching and there were a few records I needed, seemed like a good idea to ask for them. Like I said earlier, I usually knew when to stop, but for some reason I decided to take this one across the goal line myself. As conversation turned to me and what I wanted for Christmas I defiantly blurted out that I wanted W.A.S.P. – ‘Fuck Like A Beast’!!!! HELL YEAH!!! Go big or go home!
You can’t even begin imagine the shit storm that unfolded that evening. The irony is that whenever she would lose her shit the words that would come out of that lady’s mouth were 10 times worse than whatever caused her to flip her shit to begin with. “Fuck Like A Beast”???? please….that was nothing….this lunatic was spitting profanity like venom! (Editor’s note: as a cobra spits venom not the Newcastle metal band .) She was mad as shit and freaking the fuck out! “How dare you! How dare you say that in this house! Not only are you not getting that record; it is not even aloud in this house! MY HOUSE!!!!!” I don’t even know if I waited to get kicked out or just left. Either way I grabbed my leather jacket and hit the road…With a shit eating grin I am sure.
I don’t know what happened…Maybe it was an attempt to reach out and “connect” with me but that Christmas guess what was under that tree? Yup…W.A.S.P. – Fuck Like A Beast 12”!!!! (I still have it) Booyah! Oh…and a W.A.S.P. calendar, bumper sticker and even a shirt. I got some cool boots too. Rocking Metal Dude (me) scores!!!! I bet I’m the only one who got that record that Christmas morning or maybe even any Christmas. Fuck yeah! In your face! I beat the Crazy-as-fuck-step-monster-lady…I got her to give me W.A.S.P. – Fuck Like A Beast for Christmas!!!! That is some insane shit! Dudes were getting their records and posters torched and I had fucking Santa bringing me a record called “Fuck Like A Beast”. That was a victory for metal dudes everywhere! SHIT YEAH!
Not all peaches and cream it wasn’t the cure all for our relationship, but it helped things for a little while…More stories for other days…
Well fast forward to the present day and I am getting ready to go see “the Wall” with my Dad and my brother. Again, I consider myself lucky…Lucky that my Dad, 30+ years ago, reached out and tried to understand his children and what their interests were. Lucky that he was able to recognize the disconnect between he and his father and my dad was caring and thoughtful enough to try and right this wrong with his own kids.
People fear what they don’t understand and burn it or throw their kids out of the house. As punx most of us have had something similar happen to us, we’ve all been alienated of even discriminated against because of our look. So everyone is sitting here saying “yeah, people need to reach out and connect with me cuz they are sheeple and they suck!”. Well, here is my challenge to you. Why don’t you do the reaching out? Yup…Try to connect with someone that is not like you. Ask them questions about themselves and do so without assuming some self-righteous holier than thou attitude. What if I had tried to connect with the Crazy-as-fuck-step-monster-lady? Who knows what could have been? Did I know or care that her father was an alcoholic, that her brother died in a drinking and driving accident (or was he murdered? There was a controversy there…). That she didn’t know the first thing about raising two teen-age punk rocking, heavy metal dudes? It’s not like she was given the title of “mother” over two “normal” teen-agers. We were sticking safety pins in our ears and drawing skulls on everything and listening to “satanic” music. Of course she was freaked out. But, most kids don’t think along those lines, and they cannot be expected to. As an adult I clearly see that my role is to reach out to my kids, to reach out to people at work, or even at the grocery store. It’s my role as ticket holder on the crazy ride of life to reach out and connect with my fellow human.
The number one problem with the society at large, as I see it is we’ve forgotten how to communicate (did we ever really know how?). We possess an ability that goes far beyond what any other animal seems to be able to do. We can communicate our feelings, our attitude, our interests and anything else. But instead we like to hide and blame people for not “getting” us. We build walls around ourselves and then point the finger. “It’s them, not me!”
My Dad took a bold step and reached out to his kids, he looked in the mirror and recognized that it was up to him to find a way to identify with his kids rather than just add bricks to the wall. Too many parents don’t. Too many people don’t. Too many punx don’t. We camp out in our little cliques, in our “comfort zone” and point our fingers.
How’s that saying go? “Don’t judge, lest thee be judged?”
The End…. Be cool to each other…PEACE.
1. Yes. I realize the Denver Pyrate Punx Fest is the same weekend as Libertatia and I did communicate that to Marucs. Ya’ see we couldn’t go anyway. We already had FUCKTARD, WARTORN and IN DEFENCE booked over that weekend in Denver, we were hosting those shows. We had planned a Fest in the fall with RESIST but they couldn’t make it. Rather than scrap our plans entirely we decided to book some local bands with the out-of-towners we already had and a small fest was born. So, some of the raddest bands that we’ll have in Denver all summer were already the same weekend as Libertatia. And I figured since Bitty wasn’t going to be there, he was going to be here that this was the place to be! Love ya’ Bitty!
2. I’m really sad to see the PE distro go. That was my number one place for ordering records. Crimes Against Humanity is cool, 20 Buck Spin is cool, TankCrimes…Give me some advice…where else should I turn to orders records? Shoot me a note on FB (Josh Lent) or email me firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Oh…And CLUSTERFUX is going to play a show. We broke up a year and a half ago, but the money we were offered was so good we had to do a reunion. I KID! KIDDING! Actually we finally got this new record together and want to give it a proper release. So one show and a new record…that’s it.
4. See you at Chaos in Tejas!
5. Sadly my Dad cancelled on VAN HALEN. He has to go to the doctor…Bummer. Hopefully things all check out and we will rock more in the future. I am still going to see VAN HALEN. Fuck yeah! (EDITORS NOTE VAN HALEN CANCELLED SEVERAL DATES AS OF MAY 25th)
6. The Wall was AWESOME! I cried. I actually cried, I was so moved that I was literally brought to tears. Wow…The greatest concert I have ever seen. It wasn’t a concert, it was an “event”.