What is Punk?

I get asked this a lot. After years of study and research on the Punk Phenomena, I can honestly say, without fear of persecution, "I don't know." I have heard all kinds of definitions from hair styles, to black clothing, to music, to some psychologist theories about rejection of tradition, but most people who make those theories are the kinds of people who just generally won't admit they don't know, either. But what I do wish to accomplish in this text is a way for you to try and understand how I feel about it.

Here are some common "Punkish" labels:

  1. Wear black
  2. Pierce your body
  3. Wear outragious hair
  4. Go to concerts and cause bodily damage to oneself and other concertgoers
  5. Take all kinds of drugs

Take a razor blade to your nose,
Whip your partner with a rubber hose.
Spit at the band, 'cause that's the way it goes!
Do... the Punk Polkaaaa! (*)

But seriously, what is punk? I guess we all can call some young kid walking down the street with green hair, a nose ring, a black leather jacket that says, "I killed your mother, blame Elvis" would be punk. Hell, I'd even think it was cool. But what about a guy wearing a suit with combat boots? Is he punk? How about the girl with black toenails and a fetish for men with ferrets? Is she punk? Does she think of herself as punk?

Punk is more than a hairstlye or a look. It is all in the attitude. I mean, take me; I am over 30, have an earring, normal short hair, wear polo shirts, and work in an office, yapping at international technicians in over a dozen countries. In public I wear black a from time to time, but it gets boring if I do it every day, and if anything, it loses impact for me. And too many black clothes can suck when you have to find just one particular clothing item out of a dark dryer. Am I punk? Some people have written me over the years to tell me, "You are so punk," and "You wouldn't know punk if it wore a purple glitter vest, top hat, and cane, jumped up on the table, and sang, 'Punkin' times are here againn...'" But I have seen a lot of the punk and goth community, and I certianly know the posers from the prime. My friends Suzi, Rogue, and Kangal are punk. I don't have any poser friends, because posers suck. They talk the talk, walk the walk, but they are brain dead when it comes to indiviuality. The underground community laughs at them. I try not to laugh at them, because I feel sorry for them. Up to a point. When they tell me I am not punk because I am wearing yellow today, they deserve what they get from me.

Drink a little beer
And drink a little scotch
Turn around and kick your neighbor in the crotch
It's not fun if you just stand and watch,
Do... the Punk Polkaaaa!(*)

I don't drink or do drugs, either. I'm messed up enough as it is without some "recreational pharmecutical" shredding up my system. I'd say over 70% of the punks I know don't do them, either. 95% if you don't count weed or alcohol. I'm not even terribly violent, so how can I consider myself punk? Attitude! Random violence is just being a jerk. I have seen dweebs in mosh pits just trying to hurt others, only to get tossed out. Punks don't like them either. Mosh pits are an expression of emotion, and yes, they are violent area where you knock around and get knocked around. But no one is in there to be mean, that's the difference the media doesn't understand. It's an outlet, a release of frustration at a society driven by lies, for liars, where "fitting in" is valued over individual expression. The punk attitude is one spawned by intelligence. Stupid people just go with the flow, easily sucked into whatever they think makes them popular. Punks do what they think is best. Punks arise from the putrid sea of average faces doing average work for an average society. My punk attitude has actually helped me succeed in life, and do more of what I want, because I do things based on consequence alone, and that's all that really matters.

Nothing but death, nothing but death,
Nothing but death and destruction!
Bad breath, armpits, terminal acne,
Nothing but death for mee-AH!
[Clarinet solo](*)

Not all punks are obsessed with death. But I am! Wheee! No, not all that obsessed, just interested. My attitude is more of child-like mentality towards humainity. I feel like an outsider all the time, and I think that is more what punk is about. Not the norm. So what splits the punks from the goths, the deth-rokerz, cyberpunks, cypherpunks, miligoths, SK8rs, and skinheads? Goth is the obsession with the dark underground thoughts and fears of our society. Deth-rokerz are the white-faced expressions of total societal burnout. Cyberpunks are computer literate. Cypherpunks are beyond computer literate, and inhabit the subculture of hackers, crackers, and phreakers. Miligoths are the goths that are militant. Sk8rs are... on skateboards. And skinheads... not all of them are racists. But that's how most of society views them anyway. I like to think of skinheads as poser punks.

If I think I've had too much to drink,
I will go and vomit in the sink,
You can try to be the missing link,
When you do the Punk PolkaaaaAAAAaaaaAAAA.....!

Remember, it's attitude that makes you punk. Not what you wear, or what you listen to, but what you think and do. That's how you can tell a poser from the real thing. So sometimes I get letter telling me, "You're not a punk!" Yeah, well I don't have to live up to your standards just like you don't have to live up to mine. The day you define punk by a few yes/no categories, you've violated what it takes to be punk.

(*)The Punk Polka (c)1983 The Toons from the Album "Dr. Demento's Dementia Royale" was used without permission

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