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June 7, 2008

What makes a "punk?"

mohawkRustling through the archives this morning, I came across a clip from 1986 about the punk movement.

It reads like the informational clip they show on dope fiends in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Check it out:

(Photo by Sun Photographer Kim Hairston -- no pun intended) 

"They look a little menacing to the adult passerby, with their Mad Max hair styles, their paramilitary feet all that leather, and most of all the message you can't ignore: I don't want to be anything like you!

But then, when you stop and talk to them, they're not all that different from any other group of teen-agers: Some are articulate and mannerly, some are troubled and full of defensive braggadocio, some are shy and hesitant, and almost all are filled with the sometimes attractive and sometimes scary intensity of adolescence. This intensity is more evident than among, say, a bunch of preppies, but there's no surprise in that: Preps are trying to find their identity within the mainstream society, while punks are -- or were -- determined to show they're outside it."


That's a mouthful.

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:10 AM | | Comments (13)
Categories: Random stuff


What's makes a punk? It's anybody that Dirty Harry doesn't like.

I thought that the original Punks appearred in England 1976 as a reaction to depressed economy that left many recently graduate teens feeling that society not only let them down but that there was no future or prospects ahead of them.
i.e. they couldn't get jobs and being on the dole put them in a position of being disrespected, leading to feelings of alienation, and hostility.
They redefined acting out and adopted a diy approach to music and culture in general.
Sex Pistols
early Clash
ripped apparel
Mohawks and obvious hair dying as a fashion statement.
usual body piercings.
All very dada, if it defied convention and ellicited disapproval, take it outrageous lengths.

i know i'm playing with fire here, but punk is all about the mindset.

i don't know which is better/worse.
we (children of the late 60's early 70's) turned on and tuned out.... the children of the late 70's tuned in and turned off.... early 70's got us carter, reagan, bush & clinton. early 80's has us looking at obama & mcaine (and had us looking at ANOTHER clinton) can't say we've taken any sure steps towards a better future.....
kids, you need to keep trying!!!


Why do you thing you're playing with fire?
Some words in use have meanings that have different shadings in different regions and the meanings evolve or change over time.

Your once Mohawk cressed self probably have more accurate grasp on it's popular and/or comtemporary use.

and that’s exactly my point, GDA. today's "punk" is as far a cry as the original onset, as today's "rock and roll" or even the originators of hip-hop are from the people who started those genres.

to be frank, 70's punks are as irrelevant to 90's punks, as 90's punks are irrelevant to the 70's. the only unifying factor lies in the mindset that each group still holds, however radically different they might be from each other. it'd be awfully foolish to assume that the gripes and concerns of youths, even spread over 30 years will end up being exact carbon copies of each other. there may be some similarities in the underlying causes, but again by no means does that make one set of concerns better, or even more valid than the other.

regardless of how a term gets portrayed over time in the media, (not a Midnight Sun bash) it's inevitable that it'll become pigeonholed into a static form of what it once was. In the punk classification, it more or less equates to “selling out”. an ideology however, has never been the exclusive property of a certain era of individuals. You could readily make the comparison that although the Black Panther movements of the 60’s and today, are radically different in the way they obtain their goals, and espouse their beliefs, they are still bound by the same mind frame, or a unifying goal in that cause.

Underneath the surface, punk has never been about fashion and how many spikes are on your leather jacket, it’s simply a means to an end to have yourself heard. Quite simply, it’s wearing a protest sign, rather than carrying it. Most of us end up moving beyond that (see: S.L.C. Punk). In a constantly evolving world where the extreme becomes the norm, and formerly abhorrent vices are no longer vilified, it gets harder and harder to find ones voice and stand steadfast in your beliefs. Everyone sells out their outer shell eventually, however it’s how much you sell yourself out on the inside, is what makes the difference.

i'm not so sure i can agree. if you were a hippie in the 70's then you embody the ideals of the hippie culture. if you no longer subscribe to those ideals, you are now something else. if you were a punk, and now you say punkdome ebmodies something other than what you were as an original punk, then i submit that you have changed and not the ideal of "punk" then you are no longer a "punk" and must find another moniker. if you cry " but that is the whole ideal behind punkdom, not conforming to ridgid ideals" then you can stand in line with us old hippies.....

This kind of discussion makes blogging worthwhile. Good points made all around, folks.


You seem to believe that everything remains static. Every living thing, including organizations and philosophies, to some degree are dynamic, they evolve to adapt to an everchanging environment or dies.
i.e. as a country we are still the United States but we're hardly the same people as the founder fathers at the moment they elected to break from England. Do you propose that because this country has experienced so many changes we now should adopt a new name

GDA sums it up nicely. I hate to use a supremely large concept like America to draw a comparison against a subculture, but it's still applicable.

We could analyze this six ways till Sunday, but America is still America. I'll totally concede that the ideals then and now are drastically different to some extents, but it's still America.

If that seems like an overly simplistic answer, it’s because it really is simple if you look at it from that angle. Arguably, there are other angles to take it by, but I think at that point you’re missing the intent of the original argument.

I will give ss2 this though, if you’ve given up on being a hippie, it shouldn’t necessarily be that the hippie mindset has failed you. You’ve just either matured your ideals, or that way of life no longer works for you. There are plenty of what we can call, “career punks” (see: Anti-Flag, Bad Religion, Henry Rolins, etc.), but for every 5 of those there are at least 200 who either just got tired of it, or found a new mindset to identify with. I’ll put myself on the chopping block, and let it be known that I’m only 24. For all intents, I may not find myself with the same ideals five years from now. Punk won’t have changed, I will.

thanks, Allen. That's what I was trying to say. America would have to go through some radical constitutional changes for it to be different enough to be renamed. but sub-cultures (nice word) should remain true to their particular ideology. this ideology can't change it's basic belief structure without changing its core beliefs and once you've done that it is no longer the same hense the moniker once used to describe it can no longer be used as the ideology the moniker is based upon no longer exists (we are also talking radical change just like a country except on a muchly condensed scale)
for those who follow the original punk or hippie lifestyle then they are still punks or hippies, but for those of use who still believe most of the ideology, but for practical, economic, or both reasons can not embrace the entire lifestyle, then we are not hippies or punks. ( i think we are now called "capitalists")
sort of like, you cant sing the blues if you don't pay the dues.
hippies, punks, etc all sounds so romantic and nostalgic now, but there were serious repercussions for embracing these lifestyles "back in the day".
(sigh) sorry, i'm rambling. hopefully in some of that i made a point.

Por favor preciso deste link para o meu site.

Yes that's right, punk is dead
It's just another cheap product for the consumers head
Bubblegum rock on plastic transistors
Schoolboy sedition backed by big time promoters
CBS promote the Clash
Ain't for revolution, it's just for cash
Punk became a fashion just like hippy used to be
Ain't got a thing to do with your or me
Movements are systems and systems kill
Movements are expressions of the public will
Punk became a movement cos we all felt lost
Leaders sold out and now we all pay the cost
Punk narcissism was a social napalm
Steve Jones started doing real harm
Preaching revolution, anarchy and change
Sucked from the system that had given him his name
Well I'm tired of staring through shit stained glass
Tired of staring up a superstars arse
I've got an arse and crap and a name
I'm just waiting for my fifteen minutes fame
Steven Jones, you're napalm
If you're so pretty vacant, why do you smarm?
Patti Smith, you're napalm, your write with your hand
But it's Rimbaud's arm
And me, yes, I, do I want to burn?
Is there something I can learn?
Do I need a business man to promote my angle
Can I resist the carrots that fame and fortune dangle
I see the velvet zippies in their bondage gear
The social elite with safetypins in their ear
I watch and understand that it don't mean a thing
The scorpions might attack, but the systems stole the sting

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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