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Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot | 2016 | Psychopharmacology and You

02.07.16

War is when the government tells you who the bad guy is. Revolution is when you decide that for yourself.  

-Anonymous



Is Bernie Sanders Punk Rock?


Feeling the Bern?

No one who enters is unsure who they are voting for: either Bernie Sanders or "I am too young to vote, but I totes feel the Bern." I cannot imagine and do not observe anyone filling out voter forms. This is a place for punk music, with the atmosphere of a house party.

At the door, in lieu of a stamp, a woman draws a blue tic-tac-toe board with two Sharpies. We are asked for our entrance fee of $5, then assured that absolutely none of that will be going to Bernie Sanders, in case we were worried.

When we enter, a band is already firmly into their set. I gather that the invite the show was happening an hour after it properly started. Punctuality is very punk rock.


Caliway, a band

This show takes place My Place Pizza. The counter, a row of booths, and a narrow corridor between the two fills the first two-thirds of the space. Beyond that is a cement floor vacancy, the informal performance space. The walls are psychedelic flowers with a neon yarn web overhead. In order for the staff to get non-pizza food from the kitchen or for anyone to get to the humble bathrooms, they must walk through the band performing. Given the close quarters and reverberations, I put in earplugs. There is nothing punk rock about permanent hearing loss.

Milling about are thirty people, all but the Sanders reps, Amber, and me under twenty-five. I had joked with Amber that the band members might outnumber the crowd. I might be right only by the narrowest of margins, since bands who exit their sets barely go so far as putting away their instruments before cheering/heckling their successors.

When I was a teenager, this is the sort of crowd I would not leave without three ill-advised numbers. Now I wear sweaters and the edgy girls look like potential students.

Beyond bouts of attempted moshing, few dance. This is the first political rally I've attended where there was a serious concern I would leave with a black eye. It is too cramped and sparsely attended for crowd surfing, but that doesn't stop people from trying. Punk shows, even radio-friendly pop punk, is not the realm for anything particularly coordinated or rhythmic. Then again, moshing may be less fun when everyone wants to protect their phones. It has been a while since I have been to a show of this caliber and I am thus surprised at how many people are ignoring the musicians for their Facebook feeds. On the other hand, I take breaks between songs to check in on Amber, who seems not to be the rhythmic swaying type, and to typing a paragraph of my observations into my Kindle Fire; I am not in a positions to judge.

I struggle to imagine what a punk Hillary Clinton rally would look like, possibly because that would never happen, despite her attempted pandering to millennials. Punk should be implicitly counter-culture and grassroots, however often it is coopted by the establishment to sell us Caribbean cruises and sports drinks. Clinton's version of this would involve shills about a decade out of relevancy playing censored versions of pop standards.

That said, the political content of this "rally" is nearly non-existent. Between sets, no one grabs the mic and tells us what Bernie is going to do for us. There are no pamphlets outlining the wisdom of his policies. The kids here are just happy for an excuse for a local punk show.


She even smiled for me

By the door, there is a Bernie Sanders booth where one can register to vote or sign up to volunteer for Sanders. As I check them out, I tell them that my aunt Maria has a heavy hand in the local Bernie community (so much so that I wonder if I didn't see an eye roll at her name), so they don't need to give me the party line. I get the feeling that they had no real motivation to proselytize. They are there for the ballots. They give me two buttons, though the older woman manning the booth makes clear I should donate, so I throw a few dollars in a bowl, feeling that is a small price for a political button reading "Because Fuck That Shit."

When I return to the table, a red-haired girl happens by and looks at me with sudden recognition. I give her a hug, running through how I know her, until she asks if I will be at No Such Convention. It's too loud for a proper conversation and it feels unseemly to remove my earplugs in front of her, so I am not clear on the specifics.


Button, button, who's got the button?

She introduces me to her friend Sam, I think. Sam or whoever recognizes me as a substitute teacher at her high school four years ago, which makes me feel even older. Presumptive Sam looks no older, though she has to be graduated by this point.

As they leave, I realize that I am about twenty years past the target age for this show. I suggest to Amber that I liked punk when this crowd were babies, then do the math and deduce that I was earning tinnitus when some here were still in their mothers.

I wonder if this is not a microcosm of what Sanders must feel, adulated as revolutionary by twenty-somethings even as he is castigated as a revolutionary by their parents. Overall, just a bit too old for the crowd.

Soon in Xenology: Criminal youth.

last watched: Wonderfalls
reading: The Boy Who Lost Fairyland
listening: Regina Spektor

Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot | 2016 | Psychopharmacology and You

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.



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