"MUMMUFFMM MMUFFMN NUMMMFRUM"
Translation: "Hindsight can be a real motherfucker, motherfucker."
Excuse me... I'm just pulling one of my crooked Charcot Feet from out of my rotten mouth. The 1990's... Ah! In hindsight what a time! Grunge!! Your a bore Cold War!!! Surfs up! We got a Gulf War! Shit yeah! Osama Don't Surf! After all, one of those years in there was 'The Year Punk Broke' right? Shotguns for breakfast. Bruises. Baby-doll dresses... Well, one or more of those are the answer and one or more are just concepts-you decide which is which. Sometimes you just gotta get offa the Dude-Tube and wipe up your mess. Disassemble your madjack-nest before your mom comes home. She will be so hurt finding out you use her subscription to Better Homes & Garden and one of the good towels with the beautifully embroidered rose on it, for your big finish.
Nothing like time could turn an enemy into an ally. In the 90's I dabbled in the streetpunk phenominon i.e. the fragile blurring and amalgamation of the punk and Oi genres. It was the best of times, it was the worst of genres. Ultimately street-punk culminated in spiky haired drunk-punx (yes punk with an 'x') and the high-fiving boots, braces and laces skins in green bomber jackets with their badges perfectly in lines, allowing a cause/reason for both to comfortably binge drink and do things that their soon to be 'grow up' selves with semi-perfect lives would deny and attempt to act as if it never happened. I considered Pop-Punk or Poop-Punk (as it was known to me then) as the enemy! To me, pop-punk was the weakening and watering-down of REAL punk-rock; the creation of a commercial genre that I felt I had to do everything in my power to fight against.
We all have our own personal wars and struggles in our mind that time and contradiction eventually clear-up.
Pop-Punk was the enemy my enemy except of course when I would witness examples in my local scene. SNOTBOY '77 (or just plain ol' SNOTBOY to you newer fans) or the 1-2 combination of SPODIE and PINCUSHION... Two Cincinnati pop-punk staples in the mid-late 90's that I really did like... Great shows. Good records/CDs released. These bands I would find some sort of bullshittingly excuse to not only like, but find a clause in my fake fronted abhorring view of what pop-punk was to admire!
What was poop.. er, I mean POP-punk after all?
I'll tell ya: With honestly and hindsight on my side... NOW... It was fucking genius. Because the same excuses and reasons I used for my local examples were generously given to other bands as needed to justify my own ever-growing music collections inclusions... Countless times, again and again, I found reasons for bands like THE VINDICTIVES and SCREECHING WEASEL-- both of whom who graced my turn-tables and Cavalier tapedecks verily often-- and found grounds to excuse, justify and dispense my relaxed definition of what pop-punk WAS and what it wasn't to accept them.
If it rocked and I liked it, no fucking way it was pop-punk... It was punk-rock! The glory! The filth! The fury! The Contradiction.
I guess it-- the secret pop-punker inside of me-- was sort of embarrassed when I got that QUEERS CD directly from Joe Queers' hands at one of their Cincinnati shows and realized that the same Queers that belted out "I Dont Wanna Work" and "Im Useless"-- two of the three KILLED BY DEATH #3 jams that rulled my ears and defined punk-rock-- was the same Queers that I was seeing and standing before me. I admitted to Joe himself how I thought, originally, that the Killed By Death Queers were a totally different band. I remember him laughing and me giving him money for A Day Late and A Dollar Short. I bet he got that alot or maybe not so much but I'm not sure if the tides were turned I would have done the same thing as Joe. That admission by me, or this confession or whatever you choose to call it; is the real thing that defines exactly how fucking stupid I was and perhaps still am.
At a party in Dayton once some crusty-punk had wrote about a Socials show that we sounded like a pop-punk band. In the same zine he tried to justify mandatory sterilization a of Chinese citizens too. I clearly remember his name (Frank) because his roommate spent a good forty-Five minutes listening to me rant about the zine while drinking vodka from a watermelon before telling me to shut-up. Franks roommate said he would go get Frank* who would come over and kick my ass and stab me if I said one more thing about him...
So after a long draw from the straw I declared "FUCK FRANK!" The loyal Frank roomate left to fetch Frank who never showed up. Frank said before he was a follower of the Norse God Thor, so maybe he was busy drinking ale and swinging a hammer or something.
So, to say the least, I was vocal about important things like punk-rock that seem silly and laughable now.
I said now.
The Queers were genius... In fact, They still are. Just the other day surfing the facebook, a local post extolling a Queers show the previous night in the Greater Cincinnati area went unheralded for its greatness. No one commented how good it was. Not because it wasn't great, because it proly was, but thats just how shit goes. The tide turns. Popularity wanes. Waves crash. Kids are into cassettes now. Again.
In time, hindsight will make all of us look like big dumb pieces of shit. Im certain of it... In all movements or whatever; how I see it with punk-rock, you is have your threats... Like The Clash said "No Elvis, Beatles or Rolling Stones in 1977" Perhaps, what each one of those standards represented to The Clash back-then, were in fact threats for that moment. Truthfully, you know they secretly loved each one of those at one time or other... Pop-punk wasn't the enemy in the 90's no matter how I tried to peg it then, as I see it now.
'Now' can be a real motherfucker, motherfucker.
No Spodie Screeching Weasel or Vindictives in 1997... I cant have those times back now but I cant help but to think... Will I one day look back to Maroon 5 or Frank Ocean or Lady Gaga and recognize them as greats because I think they are complete shit and represent everything thats wrong with the music industry?
Who knows. Time will tell. The power of hindsight is powerful stuff. Don't underestimate it.
In closing... My dearest Pop-Punk... You win. Im sorry.
Sometimes I can be a real motherfucker but you know that already don't you motherfucker?
This piece was originally written for inclusion in Marcus Paczulas proposed book about the 1990's pop-punk scene. One day, it still might make it in there but for now, it's here.-Shawn