The Alt-Right, Punk Rock and Fake Boobs: An Analysis

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The worst thing about people who are full of shit is when they become fans of things that you both enjoy and are a much, much greater expert on. I think I’m in some position of authority to state that most punk rockers don’t know as much as I do about the Alternative Right or the general umbrella of the new right. And similarly I think it’s safe to say that most people on the Alternative Right have only a cursory knowledge of punk rock. So, as someone who is a damn near expert on both of these topics – not saying I was ever on the vanguard of either of these movements – I think I’m at least qualified to call bullshit on a recent article published by Playboy magazine.

But before I even analyze the recent Playboy piece “5 Punk Rockers Explain Why the Alt-Right’s ‘Punk Movement’ is Garbage“, let’s ALL put on our bullshit detectors.

Is Playboy not the magazine that 13 year old boys jerked off to for the first time? Is it not the “classy” boobie mag that was started by a pipe smoking, middle aged-cum (no pun intended)-dirty old pervert, who would feature pictorials of attractive women with their beach blonde hair and big, fake boobs? Wasn’t Hugh himself the subject of the wrath of second wave feminists?

Yeah, I know… Playboy has articles too; and there are people who actually read the articles, rather make their fathers question why all the pages in his books are stuck together. And, from my understanding, there was even an era when Playboy actually had good articles from “legit” writers like Woody Allen – who, liberal as he might be, bless his soul, never became a feminist or stopped being a pussy chasing dog – and Gore Vidal. But that was the 60s, and you had to feign intellectualism in those days.

Regardless of its praising of certain liberal causes, Playboy has long since been just a porn mag-lite (no beaver shots), known for launching the careers of airheads like Jenny McArthy and Pamela Anderson.

So why, all of a sudden, do they fancy themselves the authority on punk rock and feel that they can decide that “the Alt-Right’s ‘Punk Movement’ is Garbage”?

First of all, there IS no AltRight punk movement, because if there was, then my name would be in the article. Not only am I the guy who printed the first ever Punks for Trump t-shirts (only 50 left as of this writing; BUY BUY BUY!!!), but that’s Matt Forney, one of the definitive AltRighters, in the picture below wearing one.

forney_with_chicks

But, even if the article’s writer, Michael Tedder, was aware of this fact, he still misses the point entirely:

Members of the alt-right have of late made the argument that “conservatism is the new punk” and that gadflies like Alex Jones and Milo Yiannopoulos are the modern day truth-telling equivalents of the Sex Pistols and the Clash, pushing back against social justice warriors and political correctness culture. In their eyes, their old, retrograde ideas—which inevitably manifest as fear and outrage at attempts to curb white male privilege—have suddenly become avant-garde because of…safe spaces or something.

Neither Alex Jones nor Milo Yiannopoulos are “AltRight.” They’re libertarians. They’ve adopted some of the less extreme views of the AltRight – that cultural Marxism sucks, that SJWs of all stripes and shades are stupid and that Islam is a threat to Western civilization – but they were never considered part of the movement; to call them AltRight would be like calling the Cars a punk band. Sure the Venn diagrams overlap, but they’re not one and the same. To be honest, I’m not considered “AltRight” by some of the more radical elements either because I’m not a White Nationalist, I don’t believe that all ethnic groups need to be separated at all costs and I don’t fit the proper genetic stock. The AltRight actually has quite a bit of diversity of thought under its umbrella, but a person on the left will never take the time to investigate any of this.

But I digress. As far as the “new right” (which includes the AltRight) being considered “the new punk rock”, well… I suppose that depends on how you define “punk rock.” And that’s where we get to the meat, spikes, leather and chains of the article; unless, of course, you’re a modern day vegan-feminist-hippie-crust-punk, who dodges showers the way the hippies dodged the draft. Then you probably think the original punks were fascists for wearing and eating dead cow.

Most AltRighters don’t know that much about punk and all of the bands it produced or its various sub-genres and their spin-offs. If ANYTHING, while AltRighters might espouse the general, “offend the easily offended” attitude of the Sex Pistols, and while I think Trump is pissing off all the right people, AltRighters specifically probably have more in common with the Oi! band 4Skins, who wrote this wonderful anti-immigrant slam “One Law for Them”, in which they quote the “rivers of blood” speech by Enoch Powell, or the Canadian punk band Forgotten Rebels, who have the hilarious “Bomb the Boat and Feed the Fish”, in which they advocate a rather more, um, violent solution to the problem of mass immigration from third world countries. Hell, I’d even say they have more in common with hardcore punk bands like Agnostic Front, who have the anti-welfare screed “Public Assistance”, which got them in a heap of shit with the PC brigade, or Minor Threat, who mince no words in “Guilty of Being White”, or Black Flag, who sing about the changing ethnic demographic in Southern California in “White Minority” (oh, but they’re being ironic, cantcha tell?!).

But, instead Playboy claims they found the TRUE representatives of punk rock, and these people, who quite obviously have next to no knowledge of the AltRight, explain why someone on the AltRight can’t be punk.

First they get a quote from Victoria Ruiz from some band called the Downtown Boys. (And if you leftist fags say, “uh, what a POSER, you’ve never heard of the Downtown Boys?”, I’ll say, “go fuck yourself, you’ve never heard of Aryan Disgrace, Metal Urbain or the Mentally Ill.”)

Alice Bag, who has actually done the work of being a punk rock star, recently said via Facebook: “Punk has been portrayed as music by and for angry white males, but in its inception, it was a rebellion against all rock cliches. Gender, ethnic, sexual and class taboos were all challenged by our early punk community and that is a story which is not very often told. People of color, queer folk, women—all were present from the very beginning of Punk.”

Yeah, fine, Alice Bag and the Bags are actually really good – how can they not be? They had Geza X on guitar! – but Republican Johnny Ramone has done WAY more work of being a punk rock star. Not to mention Lee Ving of Fear, who wrote the classic “The Mouth Don’t Stop (the Trouble with Women).” And so has leftist clown Jello Biafra. So what? Okay, fine, Darby Crash, the singer of the Germs, was a fag. And their guitarist Pat Smear is black. And Ivan Julian, the rhythm guitarist for Richard Hell and the Voidoids, is also black. And the Bad Brains are all black and were known for their queer-bashing because they “be Rasta, mon, and Rasta don’ like no bloodclot faggots!” Again, so what? That changes precisely what again? The answer is coming; wait for it:

I think that this is exactly why it is nonsense when the alt-right strings together vapid words to try and incite a playground fight with those of us who put blood, sweat and tears into creating an expression that is the antithesis of everything that these alt-right meatheads represent. They are simply a distraction to the women, femmes, queers and people of color filling the columns of Spin, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, the New York Times and numerous other publications that report on culture. I don’t see actual alt-right bands headlining Coachella, I see Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar—two of the most punk in terms of crystallizing dissent about the status quo —artists taking the stage. Real punk is and will always be a total threat to the alt-right and their culture, which is based on white supremacy. Otherwise it isn’t real punk. The alt-right’s tactics are FAKE PUNK. The alt-white (I mean right) want us to sip tea, but we are drinking fresh water from a firehose.

In other words, according to this person, the AltRight DOESN’T represent the punk rock ethos because they AREN’T represented in corporate mainstream media and DON’T perform at corporately sponsored music festivals. I think even the old timey leftists at Maximum Rock ‘n’ Roll would raise an eyebrow at that. But more specifically, AltRighters and anyone who espouses views that are heretical to the PC establishment need to be purged from all mainstream discourse. Also probably the main reason no “AltRight bands” have ever performed at Coachella is because THERE ARE NO ALT-RIGHT BANDS to speak of. And even if there were, they wouldn’t be invited to play these festivals. In fact corporately sponsored festivals like the Scion Rock Fest has dumped bands when they were suspected of having “nefarious” connections. But apparently Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar are totally punk as fuck, man.

Next we have Chris Freeman of Pansy Division, the only name on the list I recognize. Feel free to read his lengthy, bitchy diatribe yourself. The only thing that stuck with me was this:

Punk rock for me was about free-thinking more than free speech, and I say that not to minimize free speech but to point out how robotic life had become in the 1970s.

Uh, oookay…. moving right along then…

Well, what do we have here? Erika M. Anderson seems to be the only person of the bunch with a brain!

I think if you define punk as simply being a group of angry young men wanting to say “fuck you” to dominant societal norms and current values, then the roots of the alt-right are definitely one of the most punk things going on right now.

AGREED… but:

But that’s like narrowing your definition of punk down to the Sex Pistols—which was basically a boy band put together by a pair of London clothing designers who wanted to use shock tactics to promote their fashion line. I much prefer Crass (who were anarchists, feminists, environmentalists and better songwriters!), X-Ray Spex or even Pansy Division. But my guess is that if you are truly invested in the theory of alt-right as new punk, then facts about the diversity of the movement aren’t really going to appeal to you.

Oo, calling the Sex Pistols a boy band… them’s fightin’ words! Julian Temple’s 2000 documentary The Filth and the Fury puts that myth to rest. Plus, even if it were true, that doesn’t change the fact that “No Feelings” is one of the best songs ever. To be fair, Crass makes some pretty righteous noise even if they’re views are stupid, and X-Ray Spex tear it up with their noisy, bleating sax and Poly Styrene’s caterwauling; I don’t think I’ve ever heard Pansy Division. Regardless, I AM invested in parts of the alt-right, but as proven above, I’m aware that there were black, gay and gurl punks. Her rant concludes with this:

Indeed, it’s all keks and lulz until a con man takes office and fills his cabinet with incompetent billionaires who don’t actually care about free speech, poverty, or really anything but themselves. Turns out there is a thin line between being punk and getting punk’d.

Oo, she’s clever!

Some guy named Andy Nelson at least gets one thing right:

It is no great secret that for all its posturing and incremental progress over the years, underground punk is still, regrettably, a culture dominated by straight whites males.

I wouldn’t say “regrettably”, but:

The notion that expressing all the hateful bigotry that the entirety of American society has been reinforcing forever would resemble the anti-establishment in any form is a premise so asinine and feeble-minded it is nearly beyond comprehension. Insofar as “Alt-Right Punk” is a real thing, I remind you that we’ve seen this type of thing before, and we’ve seen how it ends: Just ask Dave Smalley and Michael Graves what kind of traffic that moronic website ConservativePunk.com is getting these days.

Hey, if you don’t like it in the United States, you’re free to live in such tolerant countries as Iran and Saudi Arabia. As for Dave Smalley and Michael Graves, I’m not sure what kind of traffic they get on their moronic website these days, and I’m too lazy to check.

And finally Patrick Stickles of some band called Titus Andronicus (isn’t Shakespeare racist or something?) begins with:

In determining if conservatism/“alt-right” is the “new punk” or “political punk rock” or whatever they are saying, we must first address the distinction between “punk,” the ideology, “punks,” who practice said ideology, and “punk rock,” the musical genre/fashion template with which we associate acts like the Sex Pistols or Ramones or Black Flag and “punk rockers,” those who adhere to those templates.

No, we mustn’t. Well,you can if ya want, but I’m going to listen to this here Dictators song and have myself a vodka/diet coke mixer.

Did Reagan and Thatcher Really Keep Punk Alive?

reagan_punk_flyerIn the opening scene of the the 2006 documentary, American Hardcore, which was adapted from Steven Blush’s 1999 tome, middle-aged, bald Vic Bondie from Chicago based hardcore punk band, Articles of Faith says something to the effect of, “Reagan was saying it’s morning in America.  It’s fucking MIDNIGHT, MAN!”  This was his way of saying that, in November 1980, when Ronald Reagan was elected President of these here United States, EVERYTHING changed!

It was like Germany 1933 all over again.  Only THIS TIME, there would be REAL opposition to the Nazis in the form of a bunch of 15 – 18 year old kids with crew cuts, combat boots, black denim and cutoff band t-shirts idiotically slamming into one another while a band of middling talent provided the loud, fast, aggressive soundtrack.  Sure a few casualties were rounded up in the form of split heads and severed ears – Jack Grisham of T.S.O.L. admits to slicing kids’ ears off with the spur of his engineer boot – but this was the sound of the YOUTH, a true left-wing opposition to the rising tide of Reaganite fascism.

This of course paralleled the opposition to the equally fascist government of Margaret Thatcher in England, where much more fashion conscious, mohawk wearing punks like the Exploited didn’t waste a moment to call Margaret Thatcher a “cunt.”

By the mid-80s, metal bands like Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth heard the rallying cry of the punks and joined along.  Now the anti-oppressive, anti-fascist message would have better distortion, longer songs and more guitar solos!

By the end of the 80s, the U.S. elected a moderate, slightly less fascist President in George Bush, and, in 1992, fascism was finally crushed – at least, until 2000 – when MTV rocked the vote and President Clinton was elected.  The remaining hardcore punk bands, those that hadn’t broken up, were forced to scratch their heads about what they could possibly sing about.  They had the duel challenge that their righteous, anti-fascist message was now being sold to MILLIONS of people thanks to commie, rap rockers Rage Against the Machine and the fact that, well, Clinton wasn’t a Republican.

So, THANK GOD, that, in 2000, George W. Bush was elected and the bands could get righteous again.

I got the inspiration for this piece when I read Gavin McInnes’ article about how comedians hate Donald Trump and, without him, they’d have a dearth of things to mock, as if the dysfunction of their own lives isn’t good enough.  This same line of reasoning has been parroted about punk rock and, especially its louder, faster offshoot hardcore punk; the 70s might have had some problems, but with the election of Ronald Reagan, now they REALLY had something to complain about, or as the Dead Kennedys sang, “We’ve got a bigger problem now.”

That’s of course if you think music, and punk rock especially, is something more than just a form of entertainment, a loud, fun, raucous way to “get the lead out.”  And unfortunately, for a bunch of free-loading, smelly Anarcho/crust punks, this is the case.

Although there were precursors to punk, bands such as the Velvet Underground, the Stooges, the MC5, the New York Dolls and the Modern Lovers, the general rule of thumb is that the first modern sounding punk rock album was the self titled debut from the Ramones, released in April of 1976.  Johnny Ramone was a Republican who felt that his often copied, down-strumming, “da-da-da” approach was meant to mimic the shooting of an AK-47.  A hippie he was not.

With the exception of maybe the MC5, who largely disavowed their pro-Maoist views, left-wing style revolution was never the first thing on the minds of any of these bands.  Punk, in general, was predicated upon bands who made their stake at being fuck-ups with catchy songs.

By 1977, the major labels gambled on these lovable miscreants and officially called their music “punk rock.”  These new rock groups had funny, sometimes indecent names like the Sex Pistols, the Dead Boys, the Dictators, the Saints, the Clash, the Damned, the Ruts, the Boomtown Rats, the Buzzcocks, the Heartbreakers (not the Tom Petty band!!!), the Vibrators, the Stranglers, the Adverts, the Rezillos, X-Ray Spex, Siouxsie and the Banshees, the Slits and Richard Hell and the Voidoids.

They wrote fuck-up songs for fuck-up kids about fuck-up topics, or, as Johnny Ramone said, “we just want to write about sick topics.”  Punks sang about serial killers, Nazis, rapists, horror movies, beating people up, boredom, juvenile delinquency and, well, being a fuck-up, while bashing out wonderfully juvenile, short and catchy songs that hearkened back to 1950s rock ‘n’ roll, albeit with much louder distortion and snottier vocals.  They also wore funny clothes, making “anti-fashion” statements with torn t-shirts, spiky hair, safety pins, smeared makeup, leather jackets and even swastikas.  Many disguised their attempts at obnoxiousness as “artistic statements.”  Some on the mainstream saw them as a threat; many more saw them as just the new thing the kids are into.

Occasionally a band like the Clash would sing about being on the dole, working in a factory or rioting against “the man.”  Occasionally a group of so-called Anarchists such as Crass would try to make you feel bad for everything you enjoy.  Leather jacket?  That’s made out of an animal!  And soon a movement based upon their principles emerged, saying that punk could no longer be about having fun being a fuck-up. NOW punk had to have a message!

Meanwhile, in the United States, by 1979, major labels like Sire (actually Sire was a much smaller label, but it was bought by Warner Bros., bumping it up to major status) had grown tired of their fuck-up bands.  The Ramones, the Dead Boys and Richard Hell and Voidoids weren’t selling millions of their fuck-up records to millions of fuck-up kids like they had hoped.  Instead, the majority of Americans prefered Animals by Pink Floyd, Rumours by Fleetwood Mac or the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack.

So, the fuck-up bands either had to break up or change their approach for commercial appeal, giving us the closest to punk crossover hits with the Patti Smith/Bruce Springsteen duet “Because the Night”, catchy as hell pop songs by Blondie and “Whip It” by Devo.  Meanwhile, the underground was bubbling with activity and new labels such as Slash and Dangerhouse emerged with new fuck-up bands with names like the Weirdos, the Germs, X, the Bags, the Deadbeats, the Controllers and the Dils.

But, just being a fuck-up with really great songs wasn’t good enough.  The Dead Kennedys formed in 1978 in San Francisco and their singer, agent provocateur Jello Biafra had a real message to sell to the kids.  Punk rock wasn’t about fun!  We have to change the world, man!  We have to take the world back from its evil obsession with capitalism.

The irony is that the first Dead Kennedys album, Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables, released in 1980, primarily attacked limousine liberals like Jane Fonda (“Kill the Poor”), rich black people who claim they have a connection with ghetto black people (“Holiday in Cambodia”), shady landlords (“Let’s Lynch the Landlord”) and ultra-liberal San Francisco governor Jerry Brown (“California Uber Alles”).

With the exception of maybe “Chemical Warfare” and “When You Get Drafted”, one could make an argument that Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables was just politically ambiguous satire with no leftist agenda.  Hell the track “Holiday in Cambodia” has the line “bragging that you know how the niggers feel cold/and the slums got so much soul” before bashing Pol Pot, the Communist dictator of Cambodia.  The track “I Kill Children” is just supposed to be shock punk with no message and “Your Emotions” is just Jello telling some broad, “your emotions make you a monster.”

The point?

By 1980, with the death of major label interest in “punk rock” and the rise of “new wave” and “power pop” or the so called skinny tie bands, a younger, angrier, MUCH more antisocial wave of punks hit the scene.  Anorexic, heroin addicted, twenty-something art school types, who spiked their hair up and wore torn blazers with safety pins, were replaced by line-backer sized, beer guzzling, suburban surf jocks, who shaved their heads and wore black jeans with chains for belts and engineer boots.  Safe pogoing (jumping up and down to the beat) was replaced by vicious slam dancing (or the mosh pit, if you will), and hardcore punk was born.

Does any of that sound like the beginnings of a leftist political movement?  None of the music on any of the records by Black Flag, Minor Threat, Circle Jerks, the Misfits, Fear or Bad Brains had a single mention of Ronald Reagan.  Personal turmoil, angst, self-hatred, hatred for society and, in the case of the Misfits, horror movies, were typical themes.

Were there leftist bands?  Sure.  Following the election of Reagan, the Dead Kennedys sang several songs about “cowboy Ronnie forking out his tongue at human rights”, D.O.A. sang “Fucked Up Ronnie”, D.R.I. did “Reaganomics” and Suicidal Tendencies even sang “I Shot the Devil”  about shooting the man, a rather tasteful statement considering the recent attempt on his life (to be fair, the song also talks about shooting Anwar Sadat and John Lennon).  Other bands, with names like Reagan Youth, Corrosion of Conformity, Millions of Dead Cops, the Dicks and the Crucifucks, sang more generic leftist lyrics, typically bashing war, politicians, cops, Christians, teachers, jocks and heavy metal bands; basically anyone that didn’t adhere to their narrow minded view of life.

As a side note, I talked with Paul Bakija of Reagan Youth at a gig they did in Cleveland, and you best believe he collected a princely sum for selling their song “Degenerated” to a Hollywood studio to use in the 1994 comedy film Airheads, starring Brendan Fraser, Steve Buscemi and Adam Sandler as members of a goofy punk metal kinda band called the Loan Rangers.

But, it was mainly Tim Yohannan, an ex-Yippie, who was essentially the Saul Alinsky of the punk scene, that tried to fashion hardcore punk into some sort of left wing opposition movement.  His magazine, the ultra popular, Maximum Rock ‘n’ Roll deliberately bashed any bands who didn’t adhere to a strident leftist way of life and, as the 80s progressed, punk rules got more stringent;  being “true” and not being a “sellout” or a “poser” became more difficult with each passing generation, to the point where you have bands today who have the strictest of attitudes of what constitutes “punk.”  Punk isn’t about music, man!  It’s a way of life!  I actually got yelled at by some punks for listening to Bad Brains because, in the 80s, they referred to openly gay bands like the Big Boys and the Dicks as “bloodclot faggots.”  “You just think it’s about if you like the music and don’t care at all what they stand for?”  I’m not kidding.

By 1986, there was both a political and musical backlash; political in the form of New York Hardcore bands like Agnostic Front, Cro-Mags and Murphy’s Law, who blatantly supported Ronald Reagan and musical as hardcore bands moved away from their core sound and tried other approaches.  Black Flag became sludgier and helped invent grunge, the Meat Puppets became a sort of country punk hybrid, Husker Du turned into a melodic rock band, the Replacements became the Tom Petty of the underground. Early bands like Misfits, Minor Threat and Negative Approach broke up so that their singers could form more expansive, experimental bands.

How much of this had anything to do with Ronald Reagan?  I’d say none of it, but I’d be lying, because, in Reagan America, that awful, fascist place where people were oppressed, these bands had the freedom, the wherewithal, the extra capital from lower taxes and the chutzpah to launch their own labels, their own scene and their own little world apart from the major label and corporate/liberal media.  To be fair, labels like SST and Alternative Tentacles were started in 1978 and 1979 respectively, but, at very least, Reagan didn’t prevent these labels from functioning.  They were examples of capitalism at its finest.

The irony is that, in 1986, the Dead Kennedys’ career wasn’t killed by Ronald Reagan and his “oppressive”, right wing regime, but by Tipper Gore, wife of Al “An Inconvenient Truth” Gore, a Democrat, who felt that the insert for their 1985 Frankenchrist LP, the H.R. Giger painting, Landscape XX, a supposed metaphor for corporate America’s alleged fucking of its workers, was obscene.  In other words, it was the leftist liberal Democrat who killed the art.