Monday, July 06, 2009
the 80s: uncle pete
My Uncle Pete got me Remain in Light for Christmas in 1980 or 1981. He also gave me a Clash T-shirt, one he'd designed himself in a screen printing class. He was my rock and roll uncle. Throughout the 70s he had a great big beard. He used to sit on the floor in the living room of my grandma's house playing guitar.
I have to say, I didn't quite get Remain in Light at the time. I only listened to two songs - "Once in a Lifetime" and "Seen and Not Seen." It wasn't until high school that I was able to appreciate its polyrhythmic groove. But I got the style of it, I guess. I got that it was different from the feathered-hair crap that was all over the airwaves in northern Indiana at the time.
And I felt like a rebel in my Clash shirt. Pete designed a British flag into it. He weren't too far away from the Bicentennial, so that seemed kind of radical. And the name itself -- Clash -- was tough and rebellious. I was just starting junior high, a big jump for any kid. The school's a lot bigger. Suddenly you have lockers. The playground is replaced with passing period and, with puberty mixed in, there's a lot of pressure to be cool, or at least be somebody.
This new wave / punk stuff kind of worked for me. I started making friends with some kids who thought black concert T-shirts and jeans were tacky. We wanted foreign cars, not Camaros. We started dressing super preppy. But with a twist. One day I rode my bike to the little barber shop at Bacon Hill Shopping Center and asked for a "punk."