Thursday, April 13, 2006

PUNK ETHICS

One of my favorite parts of the documentary is when Dave Giffels who was in a band called the Difficult, and has since written a very good book about Devo, talks about how playing at hardcore shows exposed him to what he now thinks were a very good set of ethics. Just by playing at punk shows, he said, he got exposed to something positive at a very young age which a lot of people he's met since then never got exposed to at all.

Of course, I agree with this & I've said it lots of times before. But this may have been one of the more unique facets of the hardcore scene in NE Ohio. Certainly it wasn't completely unique. The Washington D.C. scene had a strong set of ethics, too -- which influenced us in Akron to a great degree. But I'm not so sure that's what punk rock was everywhere else.

I didn't really understand this until I started writing about Zen. One of the first things I put up on my first Zen website long before my book Hardcore Zen was published, said, "punk is Zen, Zen is punk." This was a play on a famous Zen saying, "Form is emptiness, emptiness is form." I said it because I thought that a lot of the ideas I gleaned from punk rock, particularly about ethics, were the also fundamental to Zen. Zen, for me, was the carrying through of what I started learning in punk rock.

But when I put that up I got a lot of flak, particularly from British people who read it. To them, punk rock was a lot of noise and clatter that lead to drugs, suicide and all kinds of other nasty stuff. Granted, these people were not part of the scene in the UK, so their view was formed by what they heard about punk in the mass media. Still, there is some truth to that view. Even in Cleveland, there was a small group who got into smack and at least one of our crowd died as a result. Still, the overall movement was anti-drug and tried to stick to certain ethical principles.

Which begs the question, why didn't it work? Why did it fly apart so fast? Why couldn't we keep that together if it was so good? I don't really know. I'd like to think some of us did. But, on the other hand, I got very disillusioned with punk rock by about 1983 -- which was only 2 years after I had come to believe it could save the world. It took another two decades before I could appreciate what it had been...

Comments:
Brad, the movie looks great, but is there a planned release date? Or are you still shopping it around for distribution? Good luck with it. Between this and "We Jam Econo," it looks like a great year for punk movies.
 
punk is out there lads...

maybe not always in the form of music.

the film trailer is cool.
 
I always thought the punk rock credo was "attitude is more important than musicianship." (I guess I ought to stand out of swinging range when making crass generalizations like that.) The trouble is that 'tude will only get you so far. A clay buddha can't cross water, a wooden buddha can't cross fire, and all that other Zen shit.

Anyway, it's good to see you posting again.
 
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