|She is the daughter of a Punk Rocker; Jon Steen|
TWO YEARS LATER
It is impossible to summarize, completely that is, the events that have taken place to shape my life and the process-to-completion of Barred For Life, since I returned from tour on January 1st, 2010. However, I will present to you a series of entries that will connect dots that may be unconnected if you are new to the project, old to the project, or just asking yourself, “WHEN THE FUCK IS THIS THING GOING TO COME OUT.”
Over the next few weeks I will attempt to reconstruct the important events, important people, and the important thoughts that crossed my plate in moving from conceptualizing to collecting to writing to finishing, and highlight the various nouns (people, places, things, and themes) that have made the past two years both enlightening and infuriating in equal measure.
Not everybody is equipped to do what I did..! I am not saying that what I did was heroic, or even brave, and at times I feel that I had made a huge mistake, so what I am saying is that when it comes to seeing a path, taking it, and somehow making it work (even when it doesn’t want to), God gave me karma to burn. In terms of the bridges I burned, friends I betrayed, and the not-so-awesome things that I had to do to make an idea into reality, well, there are repercussions. I will touch on all of these things if you will simply listen.
So, here goes…
PUNK FUCKING ROCK
At age 15 or 16 I just didn’t want to do what was expected of me anymore. My family had ideas of how I should live my life. My community had ideas of how I should live my life. My school had ideas of how I should live my life. In fact, just about everybody (and every thing) had an idea of how “I” should live my life. I had other ideas, but apparently I was just young and stupid, and didn’t realize that I was not supposed to have ideas outside the normal ones being puked on to me by people I had very little to call “in common.” Really, I despise you and you want for me to be MORE LIKE YOU…? How can I be LESS LIKE YOU… Really… I want to be less like you (fill in the name of your favorite authority figure).
At age 16 I remember my mom asking me why I had to be so difficult all of the time. Difficult to my mom was me wanting to buy what I wanted to wear to school, or not dating her friend’s daughter, or not smiling for my class photo. I wasn’t Goth-ie or dark, but the little voice inside just told me that everything that I was hearing streaming in at me like a hail of arrows, well, it wasn’t exactly real. It was made up. It was more or less a lie, and somehow everybody bought into it except for me. Even my siblings thought that I was on a path to nowhere, and I thought the same of them at times.
Finding Punk Rock was a lifesaver for me. I wasn’t suicidal, but I was starting to think that there was not a fucking soul on this planet that felt as trapped as I did. I was basically conscious enough to know that most kids go through a period of alienation, but my reasons for feeling so alien seemed more other-worldly than most kids. I wasn’t dealing with a bad break up or guilt related to why I didn’t make the football team, but was handling very mature existential problems at a very tender age. I couldn’t exactly talk to my guidance counselor about having feelings that I was born years too early for my thought patterns because, well, predictably, psychological evaluations would have followed. My friends at school were no more helpful. My family, um, even less helpful…
Punk Rockers, at least those of the early 1980’s, proved to me that I was not alone. Not only was I not alone in my thoughts and fears, but I had some pretty solid people standing beside me. While to the outside world Punk Rock just seemed like this pointless musical fad, what those people were missing was the part of the story about how not every person on the planet has the same wants and desires as they do. Sure, Aerosmith might have gotten the average person through a torturing adolescence, but not me. In fact, if popular music did anything to me it just made me feel more like a loser for not really liking it, relating to it, or trying to achieve its high ideals. I just didn’t like popular things, which made me quite unpopular.
Finding a group of weirdoes and losers just like me, suffering the same defeat at the hands of a world that just didn’t seem worth accepting, was pretty amazing ammunition for me. However, even deeper than that, it seemed that the bands we were loving were speaking both against the standing dynamic and speaking directly to us in every lyric. It is possible to listen to, um, say, a, Black Flag’s classic anthem RISE ABOVE and hear it not only attacking the mainstream for trying to pigeonhole our culture, but it was telling us to get our shit together and move our dreams forward. If you can imagine life as a silly Civil War movie, those bands and songs were that colonel who was sitting on his horse in front of his army and screaming CHARGE. Not only were you obligated to attack what you feared, but you were being implored to put something better in its place after you defeat it.
Do you get it…? We weren’t just fighting an empty fight, we were planning on changing the fucking world people. WE WERE MAKING PLANS TO CHANGE THE FUCKING WORLD..! That is bold. I wanted to be a part of it. I wanted to change the fucking world…!
So, let us just say, as I call it a night, to know me, to know that I am something of an iconoclastic asshole (only at times) is to know that I never changed, and that there are many moments in my own personal life where I am asked to give up the shit and just make nice with the outside world, and I just cannot do it. I am not stubborn, I am just an alien. I can no more change the voice of my heart than I can build a skyscraper of my own two hands. And so, next time you say to me, “YOU SEE THE WORLD ALL WRONG,” just remember that you were one of them and I was against you. To me, you saw the world all wrong.
So, let us pick up from there next time, shall we...?