Posts Tagged ‘hardcore’

Full disclosure: I have run many an anger management group and it infuses a lot of the classes I teach.

The main concept we try to get to is control of behavior.  You might feel your feelings, but you have to be responsible for your actions and behavior.  Just because you’re pissed doesn’t give you the right to hit someone in the face.  Got the concept?

It’s a new expectation for behavior.  If you were in prison, where letting an insult go can lead to a label and a target on your back, it’s (almost always) seen as necessary to respond to insults with force.  If you’re living in the hood, part of not getting messed with is projecting an image of strength and fearsomeness.  Rightly or wrongly, these are the cultural expectations we see in folks with anger problems.  It’s not because everyone in prison is an asshole – it’s because the situation and culture creates an expectation for behavior that one must follow to remain safe.

Controlling an anger reaction is difficult not only because it runs opposite to lots of cultural and situational training, but also because it’s tough to let wrong people get away with being wrong.  It’s essentially a game of self-control, but most of the time it’s frustrating and unrewarding; it’s much more satisfying to actually act on your emotions (consequences be damned) than to control them.  Especially for men, who have so much identity tied up in being macho and tough and ready to fight, it’s really hard to expect them to walk away from someone who is in the wrong, or to not stand up for their reputation, or to let an insult go without reacting.

I was at an (amazing) hardcore show last night, hanging out on the outskirts of the mosh pit, enjoying the hell out of watching the folks dancing around doing spin kicks and floor punches.  It’s like a cultural experience sometimes – there’s expectations for behavior and for reactions in every show, and every scene is different.  There was a young man, probably early twenties, who got kicked in the leg by a dancer (I think); he got pissed and walked toward the person who had danced into him, arms out, like the “come at me bro” guy.

like this.

It was absurd, not least because it’s a cultural expectation at a show – you stand by the mosh pit, you might get hit.

He looked ridiculous, and luckily his friend stopped him, but he didn’t want to get stopped.  He wanted to give into that anger reaction, and he didn’t want to admit he was wrong for getting pissed (even though he was).

The toughest part about walking away is that the person who did you wrong might never know, and this is super annoying.  Lots of our cultural media is centered on justice, of wrongdoers paying the price, assholes getting their comeuppance.  Real life doesn’t work that way all the time – even if a wrongdoer pays, we might never know.  And it’s still essential to be the bigger person, to know that you’re okay, even if they never know.

Anger management sucks because it requires we let go of our ego and humble ourselves.  It requires not acting on our impulses and maybe never getting credit for doing a good thing.  In a world obsessed with individuals and ego, it’s more important than ever and more difficult than ever.

Anger management sucks, but it’s essential to function.  The difference between children and adults is impulse control – maybe this is the key task for us to master before we can work toward the world we want.  Society before self.

Anger management sucks, but chaos sucks more.

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Ever since Ferguson, I’ve been hopeful that we’re living in a historical turning point.  I keep thinking and hoping the greater culture is finally going to open up a bit, to acknowledge systemic oppression.  Hell, just to acknowledge basic inequality here in the states.  And maybe to look at the function police serve.

Probably a lot of this hope comes from my online reading and research.  Sometimes, I think we lose sight of how insular online communities, forums and opinions can be; it’s very difficult to judge how well a viewpoint translates to the wider world if we’re constantly surrounded by agreement and similarities.  Even when we think our views are the best and clear and should be obvious to anyone with a brain.

My parents and I have been growing steadily different, like two paths branching out from a fork in the woods.  Sometimes it feels like miles of darkness between us, with no clear path to connect.  Neither of us is bad or stupid, and we still function and love each other (which is often a rarity in families, I’m very lucky).  And because we still love each other, it’s sometimes difficult to even attempt the long slog through the woods towards each other – what if we end up with only hate and vitriol that will forever stain our relationship?  A film of anger over our love for each other?

Today I figured out what’s been bothering me, niggling away in the back of my brain, about Darren Wilson and Michael Brown.

Someone close to me characterized Brown as a “thug.”  This is a person whose father was a (white) Detroit police officer in the 1960s, and left a few years after the rage and destruction of the 1968 riots.  He was by all accounts a good man and a good cop, although I doubt we ever truly know a person after the fact, or know everything about them from one role they play in their life.  Lineage informs our development and views, and it makes sense to me to support police if your experience was with a family member on the force who was good and decent.  Even if we don’t agree, we can understand why this person might not want to look at bad police behavior.

Now, my favorite documentary is American Hardcore, the movie about the hardcore punk scene in the late 1970s and 1980s; love it or hate it, it’s a nice little slice of the music and attitudes from that period.  In it, there’s a moving scene of Mike Watt and Henry Rollins (separately) talking about police beating up kids at shows.  I can’t describe it, it must be seen.  (watch it here, at 1:19:23, I could not find a youtube of the right part).

Rollins talking is what reminded me of Ferguson.  He looks at the camera incredulously, saying “The police always started it.  It’s not like we go up to uniformed, armed men and say ‘come on’!”

If nothing else, talk with your parents about this.  In my experience of white, middle class, suburban people, which is admittedly not a random sample nor representative of all families, older folks identify with the police.  They understand the fear, the need for protection, the concern that our world is falling apart with violence at every corner and beneath the skin of every person, and feel the police are doing well, acting ethically.

Your job is to bring up the other side.

Without empathy we cannot move forward.  If our job as white people to get our own people; if they cannot hear the words of people of color, they should be able to hear us.  I don’t know if they’ve never known fear of authority (because it looks like them) or if they’ve simply forgotten what it’s like to move in a hostile world.  It really doesn’t matter; people can remember, they can see. they can learn.

If we can get them to feel just a fraction of the fear our communities of color experience, we’ll have gotten somewhere.

A kid doesn’t charge a uniformed, armed officer in a vehicle.

And working to change (or better yet, abolish) a system must be understood as a movement because it’s not working.  It is not working to have 70% of our population constantly living in fear.  It is not working to incarcerate 2/3 of young men of color.  It is not working to act surprised when police act how they are taught to act, and acknowledging this does not condemn the good people who are attempting to function in a broken system.  It’s not working to blame songs like “Fuck Da Police” when police make you feel scared rather than safe.

An act by one person of is enough to condemn the group, then why isn’t an act by one cop enough to condemn the system?

Not all cops, sure.  But then you HAVE to understand – not all [black, brown, young, poor, angry, female] people.

(image via)

my life goal.

Okay, let’s start with real talk.  I’m old to like the music I like.  I’m almost 30.

This isn’t me yelling at “these kids today” because (a) that’s baloney, and (b) I still kind of feel like one of those kids, even at the aforementioned age.

I went to two amazing shows this past week, and was struck by the differences between them.  Saturday we saw Attila, and on Tuesday I was lucky enough to see The Ghost Inside, Hundredth and Architects (lesser importance: Every Time I Die).  Differences between the two shows were striking.

Attila is a band I’ve written about before, because I’m conflicted about liking them, a conflict which increased on Saturday.  Attila is sexist and frequently awful.  Before the band even stepped onstage, there were three bras draped on the microphone stands; throughout the show, the lead singer kept asking for bras and yelling he “needed to see some titties.”  Before the band’s encore, he lamented “all I wanted today was a blow job, and there was a stripper backstage ready to give me one, but I heard you yelling so you better make this worth it.”

Tuesday’s show was a completely different story onstage; I love TGI because they write about social issues and are fairly positive; its this band that started me on the positive hardcore path.  Most of their songs encourage their listeners to show bravery and courage, to keep fighting, to contribute to society and fight injustice.

The crowds at the two shows, to me, did not match what was onstage.  Attila had more girls and women in the crowd, that I could see.  Attila’s pit was less organized, but also less violent.  I danced around a bit (not easy for an old biddy) and wasn’t punched in the face.  I fell down and people helped me up.

I decided that Tuesday’s pit was more violent because the fans take themselves and the band more seriously.  I only saw men in the pit (an anomaly these days) and the dancing was more what I see these days – an open pit, with spinning karate kicks, wild punches from side to side.  I saw three people fall and not get helped up (a serious breach of etiquette).  The people on the edges of the pit (usually my favorite place to watch a show) weren’t smiling; they had strong arms straight out, attempting to keep the dancers moshing at bay.  This wasn’t a place to be with your own kind of people, go off a bit, and enjoy an amazing band.  This looked like a grudge match.  This did not look like fun – it looked like serious business.

I want my favorite bands to take a cue from 7 Seconds, or NOFX, or Stick To Your Guns, or any of the dozens of amazing punk and hardcore bands who have wild, uncontrolled mosh pits, but make a point to encourage their fans to take care of each other, have fun and be mindful.  The first goal in a mosh pit shouldn’t be to kick the shit out of someone – it should be to let out your aggression and frustration, while allowing people in your tribe to do the same.

 

remember them?!

i started exercising when i was in high school, running in the summertime.  it coincided with my introduction to hardcore, most notably the [kick ass] band Walls of Jericho.

i would run and dream about someday meeting the bands i would listen to, explaining how their music had inspired me to exercise, and of course, lose 60 pounds or so.

ah, youth.

i was thinking about this today; i was running on a beach, which is not my normal place nor my favorite pastime.  i hate sand and hate the ocean, but that’s not pertinent for our purposes today.  read more and be inspired!

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