The beat generation of the 50's was the first rebellious counter-culture of the modern, post-war era. They gave way to the explosion of rebellion in the 60's hippie generation. But by the mid 70's with Nixon out of office and the Viet Nam war over, the hippies were running out of things to rebel against. When their long-haired movement began to morph into the disco fashion, something had to be done.

What emerged was the punk rock movement. They were rebelling against the rebels. Or, more accurately, they were the next generation of rebels who were rebelling against the main-streaming of the previous generation of rebels. Considering how rebellious the hippie generation had been, the punk rockers had their work cut out for them when it came to upping the ante. They met the challenge, and then some! Few groups, before or since, have been as purely rebellious as punk rockers.

The main stream establishment wasn't enough for punk rockers to rebel against. They rebelled against everything. They even rebelled against themselves. The very name "punk" implies that they themselves were worthy only of derision. All of society, all of life, all of existence was total shit in their eyes. The movement was born in recession-laden England, where young people had little to look forward to but a lifetime of unemployment. It's not difficult to see where this sense of chronic despair came from.

Punk rock music was a wanton, atonal thrashing with unintelligible monotone vocals. It was more of a non-music, which in turn was a reflection of their feelings of non-existence. Their dance style, the "pogo," was simply jumping straight up and down like a pogo stick. It was a non-dance.

While I don't share punk rockers' sense of despair or taste in music, I am captivated by them nonetheless. As an unrepentant nonconformist I tip my hat to anyone who thumbs his nose at convention. I also like people who push the envelope. Punk rockers are extreme nonconformists. They didn't just fly in the face of convention. They turned it upside down and inside out. Rather than dye their hair an unusual shade, they dyed it in absurd, unnatural colors like pink or green.

One thing is for sure. I absolutely love to look at these guys. Their extreme haircuts, plentiful tattoos and piercings, and prodigious use of leather all come together to make one sexy combination in my book. In fact, punk rockers were among the first to truly embrace the Modern Primitive idiom.

The punk rock movement has aged fairly well. While it saw its heyday in the late '70s and early '80s, it, like the hippie movement it supplanted, has never really gone away. There are still punk rock bands who continue to make music in the original style, and it's not terribly unusual to see someone walking around with a spiked Mohawk haircut. The more contemporary Gothic movement, with its own visual ethic of pale white skin and dark black hair and clothing, has taken the dire despiration to another, even more fatlistic level. Goths are more interested in calmer nihilistic poetry than the wanton anarchy of Punk Rock, but they share many ideals.

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