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FeedBack w. Wes Nyle. EP31. Political Skews. 11.12.12
This past election has me reminiscing of who I was in my teens. Certainly who I am now is shaped by the music I’m listening to currently. But how much of my views were shaped by artists when I was showing up late to class and smoking cigarettes in the parking lot of my high school. In my early twenties I had good friends of mine tell me that I helped shaped who they were, their style, the music they listened to, political opinions. And I’m sure that’s true because I’m amazing in almost every way. But was it all me? Or were my beliefs molded by artists like Justin Sane of Anti-Flag, and Tim Armstrong of Rancid, then simply regurgitated while sitting in technical theatre class learning nothing.

I didn’t come from any type of hardship. Not like the musicians I respected and emulated. I grew up with a dad who taught Government, and Economics and a Mom who remarried a Pharmacist. There was nothing left to be desired, materially. But there is something inside a teen, a fire that can’t be explained or quenched. When I had the time I would spend too much of it at a second hand music shop, being molded the guy that worked there. I can’t remember all the music he introduced me to but I do remember one day before I left he, convinced me I needed to hear Plastic Surgery Disasters by the Dead Kennedy’s. I took it home and sat in front of my stereo, wondering what kind of cruel joke was this that the older guy I trusted with my musical development was playing on me. Jello Biafra’s chipmunk voice blasted my eardrums as I waited for the real singer to jump in at any time. Later on, the lyrics meant more and I thought about who I was and if I was going to turn out like the adults in my life. The track Halloween started me on this path of dress and attitude. I was going to be whoever I wanted to be. As long as I looked and acted like my heroes.

I remember going to Wal-Mart and buying a navy blue sweat shirt. I cut it down the middle and buttoned it up with safety pins so I could look like Billy Joe Armstrong in the Green Day poster I had hanging in my room. I cut my hair and spiked it like Matthew Lillard in SLC Punk minus the blue hair die because, well you know, my parents weren’t having that. I learned all the quotes from I Blow Mind’s For A Living: Jellow Biafra’s spoken word, and read it in speech class for an A. I listened to Rage Against the Machine when I skipped class and drove to Chick-Fil-A with my buddy. This was before they were raging against their own machine. I was convinced I was changing the world. There was no question that I completely understood what these bands were fighting for. So I fought with my dad, the high school government teacher about how a socialist society could be great, and how anarchy was a peaceful alternative to democracy. I told everyone to vote for Ralph Nader. And never saw the contradiction in any of it.

The summer I graduated I turned eighteen and fought with my dad about not wanting to send in my selective service card. I wasn’t going to potentially be forced to fight for a fascist régime I didn’t believe in. Eventually I sent it in, because I wasn’t going to move to Canada as an alternative either. It’s too cold. Along with that the election was happening and I should have been rushing out to register to vote but, at this point I was to interested in all the other things I could do that were slightly more exciting and debaucherous. By the next election season I was more apathetic to the internal conflicts of the US and instead wanted to make art, write, and listen to others interpretation of the world. The closest I ever came to voting was when someone signed me up to vote under the Green Party while I was walking into Eeyore's Birthday while living in Austin. It wasn’t at that moment but I did later understand that I didn’t know anything about America, or how any of the systems work. Nor did I care. I didn’t vote that year and George W. Bush won his second term.

This podcast isn’t a statement. The anti-establishment, anarchist me died when I turned eighteen for some reason. Did big brother win? Or did the thrill of making a difference with my voice die when I turned the appropriate age? Like knowing you can stay up as late as you want once you have your own apartment. I’m not sure. But recently as I listen to the music that shape my teenage mind I feel like maybe I’m more like those heroes than ever before. I embrace my apathy. The more I listen to the cries of that slightly older generation, the more I think that maybe they weren’t trying to warn me of what was happening to me now. But who me and my friends would become if we chased these impossible pursuits, or tried to perpetuate these futile mottos.

Turns out all these songs I believed were political… All these songs about the government’s manipulative tendencies… were really just a squeal for understanding from our pears. Well if that’s the case I understand. I understand that frustration of an artist isn’t something an elected official can cure better than a ripping guitar solo and loving fans that admit they are in the same boat.

Solidarity – Rancid
Rotten Future – Anti-Flag
Anarchy In the U.K. – Sex Pistols
Halloween – the Dead Kennedy’s
SLC Punk – Look Like A Bum Speech
No Pride – Green Day
Take the Power Back – Rage Against the Machine
Die For Oil Suckers – Jello Biafra
American Jesus – Bad
Open Your Eyes – Goldfinger
Motto – Less Than Jake
Pride – No Use For a Name
I’m So Bored With The U.S.A. – The Clash

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