This topic of this post has been at the forefront of my brain to write about for, I don't know, forever? Yet, when I try to convey my thoughts to words on the matter, I always come up empty handed. I still really don't know what to say about this part of my life. It was such a chaotic and confusing time, but the time of my life that I learned the most about living, friendships, and standing up for who you are and your beliefs.
I spent my adolescence and early adulthood deeply involved in the punkrock counterculture of Cincinnati. This is what makes me who I am today. I marvel at the complete inappropriateness of being 13 years old and sneaking into bars and clubs to see bands like Nirvana (before Nevermind, I thought they blew) Seven Seconds, Circle Jerks, GBH, Exploited, The Ramones (the list goes on and on, and yeah I'm name dropping, lick me) and I feel horribly for what I put my parents through.During these days, I also found myself in the midst of a heavy drug culture and culture of extreme violence. To be perfectly honest, it is quite an act of God that myself and many of my friends are alive to this day. Contrarily, many, and I mean MANY, of my friends are dead. At age 34, I have been to three times as many funerals, as I have weddings. It's very sad, however, a sobering reality of the counterculture.
Just as in the halls of every high school, the scene on Short Vine had several different cliques of misfits who had all found their way to this mile long street, trying to escape the doldrums and bigotry of their suburban homes and high schools. Some were runaways, some were old enough to live on their own, but many were just weekend warriors, myself included. There were the punk rock kids called Crayola Kids, known for their vibrantly dyed hair, who were also part of an older group of veteran punks and skins, known as the Family. Many members of the family were also formerly a part of a loose organization called SHARP, SkinHeads Against Racial Prejudice. There were The Noble Savages, a mixed bag of beefy, martial arts enthusiasts. The Galley punks, named after the SubGalley, the dive bar they resided in to drink and shoot up heroin. The Brothers, which nobody knows if they were really brothers, but they were a bunch of train jumping travelers, who could be found in Cincinnati during the summer months. The 513 Forkburn Crew, which consisted of a bunch of Straightedge Hardcore kids from Cincinnati, Dayton and Toledo, as well as the Queen City Bootboys, a group of skinheads who took no political stance and were basically in it to kick anyone and everyones' ass. The 513 and Bootboys were my friends. There were also a bunch of kids who floated between the few cliques, like walking, talking embodiments of Switzerland.
It was an exciting time, well, for a stupid teenager like myself.
I will never forget during the summer of 1990 after Fugazi played at Bogarts on Short Vine, the riot that all started over a stolen Mag-Lite, an alleged sugar-daddy who used his position as an AA counselor to create same sex affairs with young, desperate kids, as well as teenaged angst and bravado. As bodies swarmed the streets like a drove of irate bees, jaws were broken and a barrage of bar stools were hurled into on-coming traffic. Ian Mackaye, Fugazi/Minor Threat lead singer and Punk Rock Icon, emerged from Subway (the sandwich store), like a Phoenix rising from the chaotic ashes, to appeal to our sense of unity as societal black sheep and cease the senseless violence......then somebody nailed him with a bottle and shouted, "FUCK YOU IAN MACKAYE, YOU DON'T LIVE HERE!"
This is the point where my thoughts and memories bog me down into a pit of reminiscent confusion. Next up: How I came to be such an asshole, juvenile delinquent.