Born of punk rock’s rough and red womb, weaned at the rubbery leatherette teat of punk rock, wiped and diapered by wet-nurse punk rock, grim and fishnet’d;
Schooled on the linoleum floors and bleach-stink’d hallways of Punk Rock School, boiled in her Canal Street lunchrooms, bullied on her Bowery playgrounds and first-time fellated in punk rock’s crumbling old ballrooms;
First job’d in her flyer-flooded cubicles and first-fired while slashed on acid in her briny toilets; re-hired in narrow punk rock stairways leading up to low-ceiling’d Park Avenue South shrines and fired again in 2 AM Tompkins Square Punk Rock parks lit by lights yellow’d and joyless, casting squinting shade over our shadowed, Holiday high’d punk rock heads;
Aging fast, as punk rock pipe-glass crisply cracked underneath creeper’d feet in Eldridge Street punk rock doorways smelling of piss and hash; punk rock trash’d and shellacked as the ’80s turned arty but still at a screaming Birthday Party.
Born in ’76 a fully sentient infant knowing of no other language but punk rock, we believed, believed, believed, believed, through metal eras/errors and swelling bellies and punk rock babies and the shabby crow of nostalgia, replaced by the happy glow of nostalgia for punk rock, punk rock, punk rock; and we had to believe, because without belief we believed we would vanished; even as we strolled with put-on pride on the deck of our mid-life Titanic, clutching deflated life-vests labeled with the lie 50isthenew40 and 60isthenew50 and so on, denying that we were finally our own sad dads, we had to believe in our punk rock, we had to believe we had witnessed Trinity in the 2nd Avenue Desert, we had to be able to boast that we were there
We were there!
We were there (and not you),
so we shrieked, coughing from 30 years of Camels and Canal Street exhaust, exhausted were we but still we were there at the Zero Hour in the Lower Manhattan Project, our bar chord sun was brighter than a thousand others!
Of course, it was all a lie, I mean not a mean one, I mean not a bad one. See, we all ache for the wheel to be reinvented, it is essential to our myth that our lives, our time, our era is more important than anyone else’s; so every grown-fast suburb-sick teen calls their age 18 Year Zero, and it’s true, every newly free (eight)teen is the pilot of the Enola Gay (or just curious), every newly free eight(teen) feels Shiva-rock was unleashed for them and them alone; and, necessarily, we believe not in Mendel’s Peas but in Eve’s Apple: we alone discovered sin, we alone discovered lust and drugs and girl drummers and dive bars.
Who wants to admit that they are just another consumer, subject to just another market correction?
We, The Sentient Babies of ’76, did not know that to every wide-eyed and wide-lipped teenish, their time under the heatless city moon is the hottest time under the heatless city moon:
See, every teenager is Vicodin’d Columbus discovering the Kingdom of Outsiders and the Kingdom of Night-Rockers, every teenager is their own and only Vasco de Gabba-Gabba-Hey, sailing their ship around the Cape of Godless & Horny and sighting natives underneath the Manhattan Bridge; every teenager of any era believes that the lowscrapers and old polish rooms and new model barrios were built only for them to discover and colonize, and that they are the only midnight children with a life so bright and sweetly dark and too fast and full of love crouched in cabs (and every single one of them doomed one day to be they). But anyway –
We, the sentient babies of ’76 (and ’82, and ’80, and ’84) believe that we came upon St. Marks’ Place a midnight dreary and we invented the wheel.
But we didn’t. So appalled were we, Watergate cynical an’ lonely an’ dreaming of Loud and Kinks, each of us made so lonely by the High School hallways full of blown-dry boys and Peasant-Blous’d foxes on the run humming Dust in the Wind, so distressed and shut out by Saturday Night Fever were we that we saw 1976 and insisted it was 1776.
We wanted to believe we were part of a revolution, but it was only a market correction, alas, at last.
The frippery of the second half of the ‘60s and the slow burn solocides of the ‘70s left the Teen Soundtrack corrupt, lousy with wilted flowers, sodden with sitars and sibilant horns and shitty songs about money and the suede-vested high-life; so we shot at the Tsar (but only damaged his car), and we wanted Stalin (but only got the New Deal), we wanted revolution but all we got was a Market Correction, layers of winter clothes and Commander Cody hair left on the dorm room floor and pissy fringes given away to Love Saves The Day.
The lie was that it was revolution, it was just evolution,
I mean, so thrilling it was, it was our lives, our lives, but just a market correction.
One of many.
But this was actually as it was supposed to be.
We, the newly-free grown-fast children of suburb-sick, eternal, never aging, regenerating always and forever, never crossed the same East River twice; and we would not recognize the next incarnation, and nor would we be young for it; and we did not want to admit that no river that ever slashed through the Kingdom of Outsiders ever stopped flowing just for us. No river in any city, Camden Town to Chapel Hill, Aylesbury to Athens, Brighton to Brookyn to Brookline, ever halted its inexorable, inevitable, and majestic march from the continental divide to the sea; no river stopped and proclaimed that we were the only colonists in the Kingdom of Outsiders. See, we were tourists, for a while happy tourists, replaced by the next army of the newly-free grown-fast children of suburb-sick.
Perpetually replaced by new seekers of the eternal chord,
Nourished at the maternal breast
of the evolving punk rock mother
who stroked the hair, dyed and knotted and fair, of every new incarnation of eternal seekers of egg creams and 4 AM plates of French Fries.
And this mother calls us by one of our 108 names,
And each of the named is convinced that they invented the wheel,
and that the echoes of their name will fill the chiliochosm,
Each one certain that they are the only janitors of lunacy.
But each is only a version of the other,
each one is loud and artful and beautiful,
Part of a collection of one trillion solar systems,
each positive that the universe exists for them alone,
and that they alone invented sex and open tuning and late-night trips to Wo Hop.
And we embrace the moving river, and we say
Hey Ho Let’s Go, go, go
Gone, gone, gone beyond, gone completely beyond, enlightenment.
Long live evolution.
(For Jahn Xavier, Jack Rabid, and Michael Alago)