This post is in the theme “Constructing an identity through media”. Read the first.
August 24, New York: My punk phase was brief, if it was a phase at all. I found my way to punk via ska, to ska via Less than Jake, whose song “Johnny Quest Thinks We’re Sellouts” was one of my absolute favorites. I saw Less than Jake a few times at St. Petersburg’s State Theater, a last bastion of the era in which the Tampa Bay area had a large and thriving punk scene. I was not a part of that scene; I was too late for that.
I guess I would be a third wave punk kid? Fourth wave? I listened to Operation Ivy and Rancid, riding around with my best friend feeling cool with the radio cranked up. The ska was great, sometimes cheerful, always danceable. I loved to skank; I’ve many times demonstrated that I could skank to any music. But Operation Ivy and Rancid always felt far cooler. More true.
These two albums were my favorites of that time. Fast, fun, rebellious. I still knew every word listening today, still enjoyed them just as much. With the perspective of over a decade gone past I heard the anti-authority message much more crisply. As a teenager, everything is anti-authority, so those messages kind of wash over you. “Fuck the cops” is what you feel you’re supposed to say. As an adult, I recognize that these were, at the time, other adults making this music. People for whom cops were a real threat and the warnings about them had to be spread far and wide.