Full-blown hippie life was before me as a child. Our house had waterbeds, water pillows, water couches, and water pipes. Psychedelic colored bean bag chairs adorned the living room floor and coffee colored beads hung in the doorways leading to the hallway and the kitchen. Shocking orange deep shag carpet covered the floors. Music played loud either on the radio or dad‘s reel to reel or on the van sized tv/stereo/record player.
I’d thumb through dad‘s record albums – bands like the Who, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Jim Croce and Maria Muldaur; I hated all of it. Weekend nights I’d listen to Dr. Demento on KMET. He played freaky stuff, songs about my dog rover got hit by the lawnmower, fish heads, my name is Larry, weird stuff that made me smile and laugh.
At seven years old, I started skateboarding. We lived one block from the beach in Huntington Beach. It was the first time I was harassed by neighbors. They’d scream, “get off my driveway, get out from in front of my house, stay away from my car! Skateboarding was already a rebel move on my part. In the early days we skated to rock music like Kiss and Ted Nugent. Obviously everything changed in 1977.
I was only 12 when punk rock broke. I was in seventh grade. It was clear to me the older kids were going crazy. All of the sudden my neighborhood was full of high school kids with spiked hair, leather jackets, safety pins, and swastikas. My friends that had older brothers and sisters who were punks immediately turned me onto the punk bands. Right away Devo stood out; they were a skate punk band. At eighth grade graduation we pogo danced to 999, the B-52‘s, Devo, Blondie— Punk totally exploded my first year of high school 1979-80, at Edison High. We had over 4000 students and there was this one punk wall where all the punks hung out. At least 200 punks were at our school. I was a little skate punk, a surf punk, a vandal. “Live fast die young” became my mantra and Wendy O. Williams became my teenage wet dream.
I’d go to Zubies with my parents to eat dinner when the Cuckoo’s Nest was raging. Too young to go by myself. I just enjoyed the show in the parking lot. Slam pits evolved after the high school football games in our gymnasium at the school. From the start the jocks kicked the shit out of the punks. I’d come home from the Friday night football game beat up. In 10th grade I chopped my hair up with scissors to look like Sid vicious. My dad told me I was gonna get my ass kicked for looking like that. He was right. Cars would just pull over and hippies, jocks, or rednecks would chase me and grab me and punch me in the face or the stomach. The only way I could deal with it was tearing down the town in the form of vandalism, and of course slam dancing.
I went to years of shows, I participated in years of violence, I ingested years of drugs and alcohol, and in the end I did 22 years in prison.
I’m a punk. I am free. I am sorry.
[Watercolor, India ink, and gouache on hot press paper, 6″x8″, March 2022]