Rev. Hank’s Punk Advent Calendar (day 3) A Toothbrush Prayer
Say a toothbrush prayer tonight. For those 3 minutes while your flossing and brushing focus on the well being on one of your pals. Get in there really scrape out all the gunk that is hidings and maybe even get a little bloody with your prayer. We all have friends who even at this stage of life need a little extra blessing on their life. (Thanks to my pal and Advent Muse Rev. Molly for this one.)
Rev. Hank’s Punk Advent Calendar (day 2) Will Jesus wash the bloodstains from your hands?”
So yesterday I wrote that the theme of this year’s calendar was honesty, specifically punk rock honesty. And today I’m going to write about….sneaking into venues to see bands play. We all did it, or wanted to do it and tales have been shared for years of how so-and-so got in to see whomever at some place. Why did we sneak into shows? Because we were under age, because we had no money, because we had been thrown out or banned and maybe also because we thought it would be a cool thing to tell our friends we did. Or because it was our way of “sticking it to the man” whether the man was Don Law or Hilly Kristal.
I had a friend who was a club kid in the late 70s NY, getting to shows at 12 years old, she once got into CBGBs with one of those “Now you are 5” birthday cards that she had backdated. Years later getting into CB’s hardcore matinees without paying became a high art as folks copied the smudged hand stamps using coins, and other instruments to duplicate the stamps. In Lawrence, KS the Outhouse charged folks by the car load, like at a drive in and during an early Slap Shot tour I remember seeing kids climbing out of car trunks (it was like a very punky version of Happy Days.) There are lots of stories of folks sneaking into the old Channel club in Boston. They usually had to appear 3 or 4 hours before the show started, find an open door, steal away into the bathrooms, clamber up a stall into the drop ceiling and wait until the show started and the place sounded full.
The best story I have of this sort of thing came during the Pogues first US tour in ‘85 Dicky Barrett and a friend snuck into and were thrown out of, and re-snuck into every east coast show. In the show in North Hampton, MA I actually saw them get tossed, only to re-emerge after shimmying up a drain pipe and then appeared on stage with a fellow in a wheelchair they had befriended. Pure genius.
So those were all done by folks friends who were kids, what explains why I, a 47 year old minister, snuck into the Museum of Fine Arts Boston today to watch John Doe and Exene play a lunch time show? Well actually that is the answer, but why didn’t I pay? Well it was a private show for an online radio station and I couldn’t get a ticket. So what you say, those are the rules, did you actually think that? Come on punk is all about breaking down barriers between musician and audience. Punk is about breaking with the way things have been done in the past, it’s about thumbing your nose at authority, even if you are an authority. That’s right I snuck into the MFA and then snuck into the show as a work of art! Yup, art, I’m all about it.
But maybe you are wondering not why I did it, but how I got in. Well let me give you the words of my pal Kenny Jervis this morning when I asked if anyone had an extra ticket (see I was trying to be good.) At which point Kenny replied “Go and pull the ‘you belong there’.” And that is what I did. No I didn’t wear an ascot and a smoking jacket, or even a red fleece vest like that tool who walked into my shot as I filmed them singing. No I just walked in the front door scoped out the scene and walked in like I belonged there, I even had lunch.
So, your task tomorrow is that I want you to do something in the next day or two that makes you think, “Oooo maybe this will get me into Hank’s Punk Advent.” then tell me about it.
Rev. Hank’s Punk Advent Calendar (Day 1) The Call
From the LatinL.adventus“arrival,” from pp. stem of advenire
beginning or arrival of something anticipated
Street walking cheetah, with a heart full of napalm
Taking a stripped down, no bullshit to over produced life
You have dead friends
You used to try and be honest
No not the new wave band from California. THE CALL, as in I’m calling you all to order, I’m calling you to the season of advent, the time the start of the Christmas season. Not the Holiday spending season that the stores and the TV stations have called in months ago (I saw a Santa right after Labor Day.) No no the real start of the Christmas season, Advent. I’ve changed churches in the last year and my new spot is a church that is both Unitarian Universalist and United Church of Christ, which means that my ability to talk about religion has opened up because now I can talk about Jesus and no one starts to sweat. Yeah, it is often true that many folks in Unitarian Universalist churches are allergic to Jesus, never mind to God language, but they are my folk and I love ‘em. Anyway, what that means is that I’m serving church that actually does Advent, the kids even made little wreaths in Sunday School today. Yup, and some of them will even be coming over and checking this page out (Hi Westford folk) so I’ve got to pretend I know a little of what I’m talking about. Or I could just make it up.
Which leads me to this year’s theme, I know you have been waiting 11 months to figure out how I could follow last year’s Advent theme of death. Well here it is: honesty. I know as a guy who famously lied to the Dalai Lama, lied to his church (more on that later) and maybe even to you, it may seem strange. This is of course a Punk Advent Calender and well honesty was something that we held up as the highest value, I guess we could also call it authenticity. You know what I’m talking about, remember when it was a horrible thing to be called a poser, or a poseur if you were a Euro-nerd. Being your authentic self has been the currency that all youth movements have traded in, and we of course were jaded by the hippies who put on a big show about being honest and they lied to everyone including themselves.
Why this theme? Well to be honest I listened to a lot of Frank Turner this year and in two of his songs he talks about punk and honesty. Which is interesting especially when you listen to his songs as many seem to be about abandoning friends at parties and complaining about girls. Which is of course what we all do, but by hearing all these songs I get the feeling that he ain’t no prize, but then again neither are any of us.
A simple scale on an old guitar, and a punk rock sense of honesty.
I cannot fail, I’ve got this far with no knowledge of mid-west geography.”
-from Nashville Tennessee, Frank Turner
Because the only thing that punk rock should ever really mean
is not sitting round and waiting for the lights to go green,
and not thinking that you’re better because you’re stood up on a stage.
If you’re oh so fucking different then who cares what you have to say?
And there’s no such thing as rock stars, there’s just people who play music,
and some of them are just like us, and some of them are dicks.”
-from Try This At Home, Frank Turner
I sometimes wish I was a Buddhist and could master not hanging onto every stupid thing I’ve ever done. Things that I haven’t gotten rid of are: bringing a cute waitress out to dinner at a pizza joint (it was way worse then that,) in 2nd grade sneezing a huge snot down the hall, starting a fight with a photographer on Newbury St. but then realizing I was wrong and letting him slap me, and lastly getting in an argument with a drunk woman at the Channel and pushing her over to get away, (btw she was fine.) And these are the things I can mention, and yet I have carried these and other things around with me like hundreds of little albatrosses.
Does honesty cure ancient feelings of inadequacy? Hell no! But there is something to this honesty thing and how we have tried to live our lives according to some set of ethical guidelines set forward by Maximum Rock-N-Roll or Fugazi. We have 23 days of punky religious fun a head of us, I’m hoping for some guest writers as well. This will be fun!
Have a wonderful holiday season, people I love, and hold the people YOU love tight—including yourself!
Rev. Hank’s Punk Advent Calendar (day -1) 12/1
OK, so Advent doesn’t start until tomorrow, but for the last 3 years I have included a piece on December 1st World AIDS Day. Last year my theme for the whole calendar was “some of the best people I know are dead.” Which is still true, but this year on World AIDS Day I wanted to tip my hat not to my friends who had died, but to those living with HIV. Because I have a few, and it is amazing to think of all that they do to remain healthy, and I am so happy that they are still with us. Now it may be a Gen-X rant that we came of age at the start of the AIDS crisis, it may seem far away but its just because we got old. AIDS/ HIV is still with us, still causing some of our friends to have to take obscene amounts of medicines every day. At this time of year we complain about toys being sold out, or traffic near the mall, but compared to working hard to stay healthy, well you get the picture.
I have a few friends living with HIV, and they are awesome folks. I am so proud of them for being able to move forward raise families, be in love, hold down jobs, live life. Last year I came across a site run by Mat Sargent of Sham 69 / Chelsea fame < http://www.sexdrugsandhiv.org> . He started the Sex, Drugs ‘n’ HIV project 17 years ago in 1995. He wanted to give something back to the charities that helped him on his journey in life. He put together a crazy bunch of punk rock heroes to record 2 records to support the charities that have helped him.
On this day, think of those who have put up with so much to live this life.