Bend & Not Break

Over dinner a friend of mine talked about her 'emo’ friend who used to detest emo and because he loved metal and how she thinks of him as a poser.

I see her point but then again I was reminded of good friends who were so into punk, emo etc. but have now moved on…

…And come to think of it, her friend’s actions are but natural. Since its just chrono linearity at work time has no other direction but to move forward, making us ‘time-travelers’ to some extent since we’re traversing time from the present towards the future.

To go against it or to chose to stagnate on the present world would simple leave us either dead or as shell-shocked individuals chasing after as Dashboard Confessional would put it: “after a ghost of a good thing.”

I see myself somewhat as that guy to some extent, since I’ve been part of the cultural scene that we know now as ‘punk’ but have come to move on towards the horizon of the real world that is apart from the scene.

But at the same time I also see myself in her shoes since like her I also detest what I call as posers life those friends of mine who used to mosh to Nirvana, but all of a sudden have chosen to rave to techno and sing at videoke bars.

I am not trying to drive at a grand point or anything but I’d like us to consider why moving on isn’t much of an issue of selling out or betraying the scene or rejecting the value of the first spark that fueled one’s expression of his/her troubled hormones into youthful rebellion. I’d also like to take my stab at why counter-cultural movements at times exist as an exclusivist social order.

To start with moving on is just the natural course that one has to take and such is true with the legendary punks that most of those professing to be punk immolate, like that of The Clash, when Joe Strummer chose to part ways with Mike Jones to form The Pougues and the latter to form Big Audio Dynamite and Paul Simonon’s creation of Havana 3AM.

Or that of the direction that both Sting, Elvis Costello and David Byrne chose to tread during the course of their careers.

No longer would we hear Sting chant: “I am the king of pain!” or “I’ll send an S.O.S. to the world” as he used to when he was still with The Police, but would often hear him on songs that no longer would appeal to our tastes simply because it’s too darn complicated for us now but definitely shows more depth and better fits his maturity as an artist.

Nor would Elvis Costello infectiously rant about Oliver’s Army or would claim that Every Day I’d Write A Book, but instead would do simply occasional releases and have collaborations with the likes of Burt Bacarach to sing lounge music.

Who would have known that Byrne who used to sing Psycho Killer would no longer sound like that of his band The Talking Heads but instead would write the musical score of The Last Emperor which by no means sounds like punk rock or even new wave.

Now I’d ask you this question: did they to some extent sold-out to their youthful rebellion or have betrayed the movement that they have once been part of?

Of course not, as for the angst and rebellion, well as far as hormones and angst goes with puberty and adolescence they too die out and take mellower forms which now fuels a deeper sense of it without falling into the bitter trap of nihilism and self-alienation that got the best of Kurt Cobain, Sid Vicious and most of all Johnny “Rotten” Lydon who now sounds more like a whinny old man with spiked hair and a cockney accent but in no sense earns respect with whatever it is that he has to say or moan about.

In fact the same goes for our underground heroes like that of Crass, Conflict, Mike Watts Ian McKaye and Mike Ness. As well as for those whom we’ve wrongly judged as sell-outs like The Offspring and Greenday.

If we’re not so convinced with it then we better take a look also at the local scene.

Many look at Tommy Tanchanco formerly the owner of the Twisted Red Cross label, a traitor to the scene when he chose to manage bands like Introvoys and Barbie’s Cradle but if looked at closely those who are critical of Tommy have moved on themselves in their own way.

I know of some who’ve totally abandoned the scene, sought means to provide for their families as well as those who continue in the scene but this time with the consent of their wives; or have chosen to tread and crossover genres like becoming thrash-metal outfits, fronting a spoken word jazz outfit, to forming reggae and folk bands to simply playing at show bands in cheap gigs at Padis Point.

Now tell me is it such a band thing?

Ask them yourselves they’d give you differing answers all telling you that in their own perspectives they’d think that those decisions were for the best.

As for that of the counter-cultural movement’s exclusivism here’s what I got to say.

We may think that people apart from such a marginalized sub-culture such as that of metal heads or crusties to emo to skaters and so on are exclusive only to their sub cultural niches.

Come to think of it the reason that those of us who claim to be part of this movement have tend to overspecialize with genres totally isolating ‘our thing’ to a marginalized circle of friends that are of common musical interests.

It is sad to think that the very structure of the corporate consumer oriented culture of the mainstream is far more united than that of ours, but at the same time this is what sets us apart from them they may be united but its is their drive for cash and popularity that fuels their unity.

While ours is not fueled by a monopoly of preference but a myriad of influences united by the conviction to prove that there’s an alternative to what is catered on FM radio, MTV, VH1 and the like.

Keeping this in mind it is a sad truth that we tend to overspecialize and to be exclusive with our scenes. To think that way in which we would say that our scene is better than any out there is total bigotry.

And moving on as that which I mentioned in the earlier paragraphs is simply a broadening of utilizing the message on which we stand on just like Dead Kennedy’s Jello Biafairam’s collaboration with Soundgarden’s Kim Thayl and Nirvana’s Chris Novoselic to form the No WTO band.

While those who’ve chosen to remain on their own little would that they call ‘the scene’ that is still bent on adolescent angst and pubescent hormones have in turn isolated themselves turning into shell-shocked dinosaurs of a bygone age that has come to past refusing the welcoming hands of sweet oblivion that demands them to grow up.

It’s no wonder John “Rotten” Lydon is now simply just a whinny loudmouth who hates everything apart from himself.

Here’s one solution proposed from a song that I heard from Chris Carraba.

“Bend and not break. Or break but take it with a smile.”

We are all but pilgrims riding the boat of culture traversing in the ever flowing sea of time towards the future and it is up to us where we’d chose to navigate the rudder and to know when to raise the sail, against the high tide of trends and fads.

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