Like most of my quotes, this one comes from the Wall Street Journal. But this time from a comment on some criticisms of Woodstock, not from a professional journalist:
So much for the "peace and love" attitude you cultivated at Woodstock. Woodstock represents all that liberals have come to embrace -- good intentions, cultural icon support, bad execution and incredible waste; along the way a few good things and a complete absence of memory regarding everything that went wrong, followed by a willingness to edit the past to make it better than it was.If you think that's amusing, read the entire set of comments. While your at it, read the article that inspired them. It really is much more amusing than you would think. (Though too many quotes from nostalgic ex-hippies, and one or two from annoyingly self-righteous ex-punks.)
That is one thing that is starting to annoy me. I was a punk in the 80's. I was a real punk, opposed to everything, apolitical. When I had a political philosophy, it was some version of anarchism, but for the most part I just despised everything political, everything existing, in short, I was a thorough-going nihilist. But, ignoring that, I was a punk primarily for the music, the parties and the rest.
I now am starting to hear ex-punks of my generation doing to punk rock what the boomers did to the hippies, attributing to them high ideals that never existed. For instance, a few people I read talk about the "DIY ethic of punk rockers". It is absurd. Maybe somewhere punks were espousing these ideals, but all the punks I knew were interested primarily in where the next party was. Yes, there were some who spouted off about some lofty goals, but by and large we laughed at them. And even if the modern commentators mean we accidentally and inadvertently embodied such ideals, I think it is painting with a very broad brush, or ascribing to punks exclusively something common to many, many groups at the time. (Eg. Punks were hardly unique in resorting to self-made mimeographed magazines when the mainstream ignored our interests. Where do these critics think Rolling Stone and Mother Jones originated? All "alternative" music,art, politics or anything, all ideas which lie outside the mainstream, has to involve itself in "DIY", because no one else will pay attention. Spreading minority ideas, especially when their audience is too small to make ti profitable, requires the involvement of interested amateurs, which means, hand made, low-quality, mimeographed publications and other home brewed media. It is hardly part of the punk rock "ethos".)
It is hilarious in a way, watching a minority who were hated by most punks at the time rewriting history of a group of which they were barely part, but in another way it is disconcerting, as I see the process of crafting punks into the next hippies. The one salvation seems to be that mainstream society isn't buying. There are too many hippies still around, fighting for primacy in the sphere of cultural nostalgia. So, so far, the punk rock revisionist have not yet managed to change the public perception of the punks of the 1980's.
Actually, I was thinking more about my comment above and I realized that perhaps I am misreading those who are painting pictures of punks. After all, the 8o's were a long period, and I was involved with punk rock for only part of them. So, to be fair, it is possible that later punks did adopt a more political, more involved, and somewhat more left leaning political identity. The neo-punks for the 90's and this decade most certainly did. For instance, Green Day's clearly left leaning messages would have been out of place among the punks I knew, but fit perfectly with the punks of the 90's. So maybe my criticism is driven by nothing more than confusion over which punks are being described.
I know this interests few of my readers, but I do want to be fair. Perhaps by generalizing from the apathetic punks of the early and mid 80's, I am falling into the same mistake as those who extrapolate from the punks of the late 80's to all earlier eras.
Well, that is the last I have to say on the topic. It is really not very significant, and of interest to no one but a handful of former punk rockers. What I have said is certainly more than enough to say on such a trivial issue.
Originally posted in Random Notes on 2009/08/16.