Sunday, August 26, 2012

Nardcore WTF

OK, folks.  I grew up in a suburb of Los Angeles called Oxnard, CaliforniaOxnard is an interesting place there are parts of it that are worse than parts of Los Angeles Proper.  I grew up in one of the rougher neighborhoods, and area now referred to as the Rio Lindo District.  Oxnard also has some of the most affluent people living there too, especially on the coast.  I am a bit of a Music Geek, but I did not know my hometown had its own Punk Movement.  That Movement is called Nardcore of all things.  The bands from this movement include Doctor Know, Aggression, Ill Repute, False Confession, Habeas Corpus, RKL and Scared Straight.

The Kicker to this is where in Oxnard the Movement was based.  That is the affluent neighborhoods of Oxnard Shores and Silver Strand.   This was in the Early Eighties when I was in Junior and Senior High School.  The Original Punk movement in New York was a Starving Artistic Movement and its successor the London Punk movement was about rebelling against the upper classes and government.  The Nardcore were rich kids most of them Skater or Surf Punks.  Not much to rebel against, except for the size of their allowance and non locals at their beaches. 

I knew of these guys, but due to my economics situation I could not relate.  When I did get into punk from Southern California it was X, Suicidal Tendencies, Bad Religion and Social Distortion.  These bands talked of similar struggles as I saw growing up. Except for X and Suicidal Tendencies I did not get into Punk till I was in College.  In Oxnard I was into Hard rock and Heavy Metal.  Punk was expensive because most of it was new stuff you would have to buy and sometimes you had to hunt down a record store that carried them.  That was due to the fact they were on minor labels.  The kids in my neighborhood would tape copies of their albums and tapes and trade them for ones they did not have.  Most of the Punk kids I knew in Oxnard bought all their albums brand new. 

So in the late Eighties I discover Punk and its various movements.  I love the stuff it was nothing like what I experienced with privileged Punks in Oxnard.  Later about a few years ago I discover that Nardcore existed.  I look up the bands and they are bands that all the guys who used to hassle me in high school listened to, especially the guys from the Shore and the Strand.  I have tried to listen to them, but I still cannot get past the socio-economic differences and my history.  That is just me.  This Is My Not So Humble Opinion.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Uncanny Metaphors

The obvious theme in the X-Men comic books is racism.  For me it had a very interesting resonance.  Having been born with a Cleft Palate and Lip, I am what real world genetic mutation is like.  It is not a beneficial thing in most cases in the real world.  To a teenaged kid struggling with having a facial deformity, though minor, in 1980’s Southern California, the Uncanny X-Men was a revelation of sorts.  It helped me accept my differences.  Yes, the Marvel Mutants had wonderful, amazing and extraordinary powers.  In many cases those offset any negative mutations.  I felt a kindred spirit though to those with more challenges like Rogue, who could not touch another person without negative consequences.  I liked Nightcrawler, who wore his mutation on his skin, like I did.  He like me could not hide his differences.  In 1980’s Southern California’s cult of physical perfection, I felt definitely on the outside of normal.  Now in retrospection, the cult of physical perfection was not normal especially on the altar of plastic surgery. 

I felt that no matter what I did or how much reconstructive I got, I would never measure up.  I was a freak; the X-men taught me that is not necessarily a bad thing.  The X-men themes included not just societal acceptance, but self acceptance.  Some characters like Angel (pre-Apocalypse’s modification) and Beast reveled in their differences.  That exampled helped me realized that being different may not be a curse, but a blessing.  Whether by design or unintentional, the X-men helped many who felt on the outside of society see their differences as something wonderful. 

Many have used the mutant struggle as analogy for the Civil Rights Movement, the Gay Lesbian and Transgendered Rights Movement, Religious and Cultural Tolerance, Body Modification sub-culture, and the Disabled Rights Movement.  With the recent Things Get Better Campaign and Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Anthem, these themes still resonate after almost fifty years of Publication.  Be it race, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, sexual identity or anything that can be used to divide people, the X-men speaks to those who feel left out of the norm or majority.

The Various Writers on the X-men Titles have explored almost every reaction to disenfranchisement: Extreme Militancy, Pacifistic Resistance, Isolationism, Integration, Self Loathing, and Self Aggrandizement.  All of these themes resonate to the feelings of individuals feeling on the outside.  Every human being needs and wants to be accepted by someone, but everyone fears rejection.  The X-men calls to these feelings and fears, they also address those concerns in both a person and societal level.  In the U.S., the idea of being different, but part of something bigger also rings true.  We are a country made up of many cultures, Races, religions, and philosophies.  So the idea of the acceptance of anyone is part of our National Ideals.  These ideals are not always practiced.  The X-Men try to aspire to this Ideal.  I think that is a noble sentiment. That is my not so humble opinion.