Friday, March 9, 2012

The Gains, Wisdom, Real Power

The Hardcore scene was chaotic. It lived in the hearts and minds of the bands and fans, burned there, an explosion of questions asked with few answers given, unfocused rage, the blindly thrown hay-maker of youth aimed at the undefined times. I have described it as well as I could in this blog and elsewhere, its energy, its power, as well as its shortcomings. The eye of my youth, though a bit myopic from the intervening years, stayed fairly clear, I think. And though I have always been a bit too philosophic, a bit poetic in the face of the realities, I believe I have captured some small part of what it meant to be in that chaos.

So where does that leave me, now? I have pointed at it, cataloged it, shared some snapshots, but there is a big fucking 500 lb. simian in the room: what did I take away from those times? What, if anything, did I learn, bring out of the hurricane, drag along with me to my mid-forties? This seems to be the point of the thing, the result of the test, the goal.

First, I think I should point out just a few other observations. Though I have tried to portray the events and the feelings and the presence truthfully, I expect I have taken some liberties with my memories. I have not been completely fair to reality. There was some bad shit. Some really bad shit. Drugs. Excessive alcohol consumption. Violence. Lots of  violence. But these are echoes of youth, the demons we all faced as adolescents, brought, in large part, to us by the drug-addled previous generation, the musicians, the writers, the celebrities. I, for one, did not drag that particular pathetic, pimply, odorous, demon with me into my middle-age.  The violence has been, will always, be there. Posturing, showing your mettle, finding your place in the pack, a story as old as humanity. And we as humans continue to search for our place in the pecking order until we loose our vitality, our virility, and gain a little wisdom and discretion.

When I think about it, I mean really think about it, the list of things I took away from the music and the scene, the community, is fairly short. There is little any journey can provide you if you are not looking for something in particular. But though they are few, the things I gained are important things.

I was part of a community. Part of something larger than self, a symbiosis, the only important thing there is: the people around you, the acceptance of them, the belonging. We were in it together, that slavering, voracious beast, adolescence, growing up. It was our prehistoric pack, our hunter-gatherer community, the place we found our role in the group. It was the story of our wanting to do that shit OUR WAY, the rebellion against the expectations of  society, the finding of our own trails through the madness. It was growing up, not just growing older.

And there was no place better to do that than in Washington, DC, where our bands, the abdicating leaders, gave us things to think about that meant something to a young person. Not the political horseshit, the conspiracy theories, but the inner battles, the screaming, burning, frightening flight into adulthood, bucking the system, throwing out the rules the jocks and preps and assorted assholes in our schools perpetuated, the ecdysis of our childish skin.

I guess you might say that the thing I brought with me into adulthood that has meaning is the understanding that there can be unity among the marginalized, the introspective, intelligent people, the disenfranchised. Those of us who didn't want to live in a community of misogynistic jocks or to perpetuate the cycle of looking perfect for the perfect mate, broke away and found there were others like us, people who hated the status quo. We found acceptance and community, a place we could do our thing, the ultimate place to escape the blind categorization and numeration of society. We thought for ourselves.

And that, my friends, is real power, value that so many now ignore, the essence of being grown up and free. We didn't compromise, we deflected the pressure, bashed our way through the webs of convention and emerged unbroken. The more treacherous path is sometimes the most rewarding.

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