Punk was also a social movement. Modern Hardcore was born out of the economic downturn in Brittan, and rode that wave of malaise to the States in the late 70's. People remember Punk being loud and angry, but many forget why. The Anglo-Saxon world at that time was urban decay, unemployment, crooked politics and looming Armageddon. No hope unless you "sold out" and groveled for The Man. Punks were anti-.... everything. The way they saw it, their parent's generation cocked everything up. No need for some metaphysical search for meaning crap like the hippies in the 60's. There was no "truth". There was only Now.
That Nihilistic philosophy lead to a lot of drug and alcohol use, so I've read (cough, cough). And for most Punks, all the carnal pleasures eventually kinda lost their allure. Not all of us could go out in a blazing spoon of glory like Sid Vicious. Nope. For most Punks, it was the slow, sad slide into middle / working class doldrums. Respectable flat. Steady job. Sure, we'd still listen to the music. But it's just not the same when you're sober and comfortable.
However, there was a path less taken. A minor player on the Punk scene in 1981 released a 46 second long track called "Straight Edge". The band, named Minor Threat, tapped into an underserved sub-market: Thinking Punks. Not intellectual, but smart. It was a simple concept: "If you're loaded all the time, you probably suck at Revolution. Sober up, fool."
I was a bit too young and dumb at the time to appreciate this concept. But in retrospect, I love it. I've always been a closet Anarchist (not bomb-throwing, violence is for losers). The Posers and their hollow fashion will always be with us. But don't let their empty heads make you think that the movement itself was vapid. I have this track that I acquired in the late '80s with Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys) savaging Tipper Gore over censorship on the Oprah Winfrey show. I kid you not! Pure gold, listening to some political opportunist get schooled by a "punk".
The modern Straight Edge movement has embraced lifestyle choices like vegan diet, and abstaining from coffee. That's a bit too Hard Core for me.
But if you were ever a Punk, you know how to fight. And fighting while you're messed-up is dumb. Keeping yourself mentally and physically straight just makes sense.
I've toned it way, way back from The Day. But is it enough? Am I sharp enough? I'm not an abstinence kind of guy, in any sense. But I totally respect and appreciate those that are.
Once again, we have the opportunity to Rise Above. Hopefully with less vomit and Heroin this time.