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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Defending Punk

924 Gilman Street in Berkeley is a volunteer-run concert space that was famous in the '80s for hosting huge fights and riots, and famous in the '90s for introducing Green Day (among other folks) to the world. By the time I moved to San Francisco in 2001 (if you want to read the full story, it's here) it classified as a legitimate shrine to visit. A few weeks after I moved there, my friend Edie Sedgwick played a show there -- which was kind of like having one of your siblings be named High Priest of Judaism (or whatever religion you happen to be a member of), if only for one night.

I'm in an upcoming anthology about the space. Terena Scott, the editor of the anthology, just interviewed me for her site. Here's a snip:

How do you personally define punk?
I'm really bad at personally defining anything -- I just do what I do. But a lot of what I love is punk, and so that rubs off on the stuff I write and the person I am. So I guess that makes me punk?

Punk, I think, is anything that flies in the face of what you'd expect. Punk is yelling at the top of your lungs when you're expected to be quiet, and it's acting like a full-on gentleperson when everyone expects you to stage a riot...or the exact opposite.

But it's more than that, I guess. It's not just going against what people expect of you. It's really ignoring the idea of expectation itself and doing whatever you want or whatever you're feeling. I'm talking about art, mainly, although I think it still holds true with everything else.


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