You move to the city and get a shit job, live on a diet of ramen, granola, tea and cigarettes in a pulsing art-and-culture organ. Reject the working-class norms your parents adopted in order to survive. You’re starry-eyed and suffered from rural submission. You’re broke like the artists who influence you. They grew out of the post-war, industrial gloom and grimy streets. You want to prove you’re worth your salt.
In the Bronx, DJ’s spinning at block parties isolated the beats of popular funk and soul songs and kids began to chant rhythmically over the beats. They used music as an outlet to express their realities in low-income neighborhoods like previous generations with the blues and jazz. For the first time, samplers and drum machines were widely available, so anyone can make a beat.
Fashion-conscious, New-Wave-film watching Mods in war-battered London didn’t want to be their parents. Broke art students sat in coffee shops and discussed jazz and existentialism like the Beats. They were snobs about music, took amphetamines and danced all night in discothèques. The mods got priced out of their own fashion when it became a commercial machine, and along came punks who despised business and the monarchy, congregating at the SEX boutique on King Street.
Kids flocked to New York City after defying careful hierarchies of tradition. They were tired of macho-dude rock and made minimalist but abrasive music, inspired by Beats poets who refused to accept post-war conservativism. Punk rock is a fusion of the literary, Warhol’s factory and performance art, made by kids in pop-art clothing and hairstyles with art school ambition : reject business and do-it-yourself.
Makeup, dyed hair and glitter. Be a boy who wears a dress. Experiment with your roommate, Beat Poets and drugs in dimly-lit rooms. You’ve got doubts and guts and instincts clawing at your belly. 1980’s New York is dead. The artists got signed and sold records. Marketers’ keen noses on the scent use slick formulas to shut down galleries and DIY spaces and evict artists and locals in place of overpriced restaurants and boutiques. Streets are a pastiche of what capitalists think “punk” or “art” is.
The city is a tease, hostile and freezing, and you are tender and consumable. You name your own price.
“Page 40” from upcoming, self-published book Psychosexual. 2016. Sharpie, Xerox and gouache. See more of my work in the gallery.