Thursday, June 3, 2010

Lemme get your hat, bro!

People tend to focus on the glamour of rock and roll but let me tell you, while it’s true, I’ve been kissed by Anna Nicole Smith and been converted completely to Christianity by Little Richard in the lobby of an upscale Hollywood hotel, I’ve also been to my fair share of dumps. I’ve mentioned some of them in this space before (search the entry entitled ‘sleep, that’s where I’m disgusting’ for detailed descriptions of the Rabbi’s house and the fat band of dreaded masturbation enthusiasts from Tennessee) and today I’m gonna go there again. I’m gonna show you people the truth about rock and roll. It’s not all Little Richard and Strawberry cocaine. A lot of rock and roll involves garbage and feces. A lot of rock and roll involves dumpsters and the smell of spilt beer while you eat breakfast in the same gross room where you played the night before. A TON of rock and roll involves people that won’t stop talking to you even though they have nothing to say, or people who just have a few snide things to say and who insist on getting in your face to say them. These people are called punishers. They’re the worst scourge on the face of rock and roll. You’re probably a punisher. Yeah, you probably are. There’s really no shame in it. Being a punisher is kind of like having genital warts: more common than not these days and every once in a while, really irritating.

Okay, full disclosure, I’ve punished my fair share of people. I punished Jeff Pazzatti from Naked Raygun pretty mercilessly at the old Bottom Lounge in Chicago a few years ago. I was, thanks to my super-cool celebrity status, able to sneak back into the dressing room and hang out (something I would have never done were I not super excited and kind of loaded) and I proceeded to sit next to Jeff (someone I greatly admire but don’t know at ALL) and just punish the shit out of him. It was kind of on purpose too. I knew he was uncomfortable with all the “dude! You’re awesome”s and the random enthusiasm about old raygun songs and shows and attempts to hug him and stuff, but I didn’t really care. That evening culminated in me stage diving and the crowd parting just in time for me to hit the floor like an extremely handsome and annoying ton of bricks.

I also punished the dudes in Propagandhi pretty mercilessly at the Fat Wreck thirteenth anniversary party. They needed someone to play foozball against and my drunk wife and I decided to take them on. We were sloppy and annoying and those dudes are hands down in the coolest band in the world and I was thinking to myself “hey, I’m on fat too, we’re contemporaries, these guys are gonna love my sloppy charm, and we’re gonna be friends. This is AWESOME.”

um, no. They did not love anything about me. Their little foozball men quickly vanquished ours before they, visibly irritated, escorted us away and went off to shotgun beers Canadian style (I’m guessing, as we were not invited).
Point is, we’ve all been horrible punishers at some point and you’re no exception. I dig it though, when you get in the situation where you’re talking to someone you really admire, you want it to be awesome, but the truth is, you don’t know them and they don’t know you and sure, sometimes it’s effortless and like talking to your best friend, but a lot of the time, people just don’t have the chemistry to strike up a great chat as strangers. The fan (me, in the case of the above stories) tends to become a bit desperate to make the conversation progress naturally to a point of true connection and the result is a kind of strained weirdness that makes the non-fan feel vaguely uncomfortable and trapped.

This is one kind of punishing, but it’s hardly the only kind that you come across. There’s also the entitled punisher who asks for your clothes, or your skateboard or other personal items and gets pissed when you won’t give him anything. He’ll say stuff like “you owe me. I listen to your band.” This is one of the worst people at any show. Firstly, I’m not made of hats or pants. It’s not easy to find stuff that I like to wear, and uh…not to state the obvious, but I’m wearing this shit right now. What am I gonna do, walk around with no pants? Or worse, trade you for your dumb pants? No thanks. I’ll just not give my pants to a stranger instead, how bout that? This really happens, by the way. Here’s a word to the wise, nobody likes strangers asking them for their stuff. It’s like panhandling, but even more invasive. Just never ask someone for their hat or their pants or their belt buckle or their jacket or shirt or skateboard or anything. Just don’t.

There’s also the guy who has just been waiting to tell you that he thinks you’re an asshole, or that you’re not good anymore or that you’ve gotten fat or that you’re ‘so wasted’ or dead wrong about something or that Dave Hause was just in town and he’s way more fun than you or whatever. these people are often super aggressive and for whatever reason, more common in Germany than anywhere else I’ve ever been to.

Now finally, punishers can be found anywhere. They’re not just people at shows, and I’m sure that you’ve been punished, even if you’re not in a band or an actor or pro snowboarder or anything. That girl at the party that won’t shut up about how awesomely important she is, that’s taking you hostage in the bathroom line? Punisher. That creepy guy at the diner that keeps interjecting into your conversation even though you’ve tried very hard to make it clear that you’re really doing just fine, and no, we wouldn’t like to talk to you, random dude: Punisher. Panhandler that won’t take no for an answer/dude with elaborate story about why he just needs fourteen dollars to get back to the suburbs and then he’ll mail you the money: Punisher.

Now, keep in mind, I’m not saying that if you approach someone in your favorite band or if you’re homeless or if you’re excited about meeting someone, or if you really need some money or some pants that you’re automatically a punisher. There’s nothing better than true fan appreciation and lord knows there’s a lot of people out there that need financial help and that’s cool too. Punishing is an elusive time burgling complete with a sense of creepiness or desperation or claustrophobia that can’t be easily quantified, which is what makes it so hard to avoid.

I dunno. I was gonna write about this place where we partied in Omaha that had human poo everywhere, but I got kind of sidetracked. Maybe tomorrow.

34 comments:

Blake said...

I've done my share of punishing. Never aggressive about it. Just kinda lurk around the area with nothing to say, then blurt something out of nowhere when I think I have something good.

Jorge said...

I saw this the other day and thought about your treatise on the distinction between geeks and nerds.

http://xkcd.com/747/

You know, I'd like to think I had a friendly and interesting exchange with Coolie Ranx once, but probably not, I probably punished him. He sold me a CD and a patch and let me be a couple of bucks short at a show once, and I promised to pay him back.

The next time he came to New Orleans I explained the situation, which he didn't remember, and gave him a 5. He then used it to play pinball at Dixie Tavern until the show started. I'm sure in between all of that I tried to make lame conversation to keep the 'natural' flow of conversation going. Yeah, punishing totally sums it up.

Eric said...

I have punished bk on multiple occasions

Carl said...

haha im apparently the worst kind of punisher. i actually asked for chris hannah's hat at a propagandhi show last year. i also met the bassist, but was totally speechless and he probably thought i was legitimately retarded. eh well, live and learn i guess.

FranklinStein said...

hilarious post. next time i see you, i'll make sure to mention to you how hilarious this post is and then let the awkwardness ensue...

let's see, I've done my fair share of punishing, but I've only sensed that the other party felt ill at ease twice. This happened with Mike Park and Greg Barnett of the Menzingers. On the subject of Mike Park, his sister is RIDICULOUSLY hot AND over 40. Koreans have the BEST genes.

limited nobility said...

The less of a fan you are the better your rapport is gonna be .I remember cracking jokes and eventually doing sets of bench press with h20 back in the day"we learned dis from da misfits"(don't know one tune).I also got on well with gabel(I didn't like his band even when I was supposed to).bk seemed to dislike me.I think I was thrown out of a popes show in south carolina for heckling pastor josh caterer(huge fan!I listen to duvall for fucks sake).robb says I wasn't thrown out though.I don't trust either of our recollections,either way a bad impression was left

Candice said...

i sincerely hope that you don't consider me a punisher. and if so, i hope the alcohol i buy you makes up for it.

planespotting said...

In all my years of following your band, I'm usually able to strike up a conversation with Chris wherever you guys were playing. You're a little bit harder for me personally to get a word in without thinking that i sound like a huge dork or fanboy, but I've managed to do it before.

The best way to strike up a conversation with someone you're a fan of is to engage a mutual interest outside of the obvious (that you're in a band and I think it's cool and have almost every CD you have ever put out), and to keep it short and sweet unless there's some obvious chemistry (not the gay kind).

In your case, dropping a Simpson's quote that's appropriate to the situation is a good in. But, those are hard to come by sometimes, as it can be hard to think of a good Simpsons quote in a pinch, but you know, you do what you have to do.

In Chris' case, I'd just talk to him about Chicago (this was before I lived here), and he always seemed game for that. But we'd also talk about things like going to college and getting a job and relationships with girls.

I probably wasn't the smoothest ever, and definitely punished on a few occasions, but, you know, the punishee should be flattered anytime someone thinks enough of them to punish them.

Candice said...

i have to disagree with you, planespotting. i've always found that the best way to strike up conversation with someone you admire is to lift up your skirt.

Maximilian said...

i only talked to people from bands about more than "i like your band/great show...." on 2 ocassions.

one was the bass player from my favorite band in germany or at least bavaria. we played a show with them and i talked to her pretty much of the evening, so i think it was no punishing, or else she would have told me to fuck off.

the other thing happened lately with cobra skulls in germany. i had my bsc shirt on and at the moment i approached adam he allready was like "oh that guy". but he was nice and we talked a couple minutes how's the tour been so far and stuff. i think no punishinh either but maybe just because of the shirt.

and.... it's sad that the asshole stuff happened in germany. come to munich, i'll approach you and show you how nice we can be. or for the fun of it i could tell you that you suck but still buy a beer for you. how does that sound?

dgibby said...

I was punished by Pat Ford a few years ago, we were talking about Colossal and him being a teacher for about 10 minutes. Then like 20 minutes later, he came back up to me for about 45 minutes. Then Neil joined at some point, and we all missed the Cobra Skulls. But damn the Cornish Gay Men were good that night.

kylewagoner said...

I live in the middle of nowhere, West Virginia, and when I first started going to punk shows, I kind of like freaked out when I saw people I knew from bands I listened to. I kinda freaked out when I saw The Flatliners walking around aimlessly at a show in Pittsburgh. But then I kinda realized that it's better to just let things happen...like when Fat Mike was wandering around truly aimlessly looking for a strip club and I stood in the open so his drunken body would spot me on the street. And then he talked to me and I punished lightly. I'm getting better, though, I think. And Brendan, I WILL plan on meeting you when I get to one of your shows. I'll just say, "I'm Kyle Wagoner," and you'll maybe remember from your blog. On a side note, I've actually gotten into The Lawrence Arms a lot more since I've started reading your blog.

love,
Kyle

kylewagoner said...

@ Carl
Todd from Propagandhi approached me in a line for their show and we talked for like 10 minutes, but I still felt really starstruck and awkward. Then I talked to Jord a little and asked him about his drumset at the end of the show. I waved at Chris Hannah. And as for The Beaver...he seems like a recluse.

Carl said...

@kylewagoner
yeah, something about them and how they like, shaped my worldview will always make them seem larger than life.
and yeah, i think beave is a recluse, haha. he's the only one i havent atleast shook hands with, though i have had brief correspondences with him over facebook, once about star trek (no kidding) and once about his guitar rig.
i will always regret though, the one chance i had to actually speak in person with todd, and after shaking his hand, all that came out of me was "uh....(whimper)....thank you." ha,

planespotting said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kennyg said...

I don't think I really "punish" anyone. When I'm starstruck or whatever, I usually get real shy and nervous. Like when I was standing next BK at a show in San Antonio, and I didn't even approach him or anything, I just kept watching whoever was playing.
I guess I don't wanna encroach on their good time, or worse sound like a dumbass or punisher.
Back when I was in a band, we were FRIENDS with the guys from Fake Problems and played several shows with them, and I still don't think I ever really talked to them. And they weren't even that famous yet. They probably wanted someone to know who they were

Craig said...

http://newsfeed.time.com/2010/06/03/gay-friendly-mcdonalds-ad-irks-oreilly/

Could Bill O'Reilly go out of his way anymore to be intolerant?

Steve Jones said...

I know I punished you a little at The Gingerman after the Alk3 show in February. I just HAD to get you a beer even though you were already hammered. On another occasion though I caught Bayside in Kentucky and said what's up to Anthony Raneri at the merch table. No big deal but then later he was outside and came up to me and said he was sorry for being kind of a dick and honestly I didn't see it at all. I guess he felt like he cut me short or something. Either way we struck up a pretty good convo outside. Hell of a nice guy.

EZB said...

yeaaaa.... i've got to be an annoying punisher, i wind up talking about the blackhawks to cubs fans and ask chris to sign my chest. good thing i usually have candice around to offer you blow jobs, eh?

Candice said...

ezb- you definitely creeped out brendan after that show in brooklyn a few years back when i first got him to sign my underwear. he seemed pretty frightened when you asked him to sign yours too.

Matt said...

Reading this post reminds me of the time I saw BK get pissy with a punisher at a show. I went to see the Falcon/American Steel/Lawrence Arms show in NYC on the Rocks Off Boat Cruise. After The Falcon played, some kid was SCREAMING at BK to give him his shirt. BK quite simply told the kid the go to the fucking store and buy a shirt if he needed it. I found it quite funny, then proceeded to get black out drunk. Thumbs up all around!

Crooks said...

@Craig, though all of the Socks should view the video

What the fuck is with that guy? (loaded question I realize). He makes a connection b/w being gay-friendly and Al Qaeda? Fuck that asshole with a golden arches sign - and serve it up his ass a billion times.

So he (and the like) can openly be homophobic, xenophobic, racist, ignorant assholes and profit!?

Where's the facebook/twitter campaign FUCK O'REILLY? No, let's make sure that some old lady hosts a show no one gives a shit about first.

nd said...

This post made me realize I've punished Chuck Ragan. Fuck. Sorry Chuck.

Toto said...

i kinda punished Todd from propagandhi when they came to Argentina in 2007 or so, they played for like 100 people and was the second best show i've ever been to (first being Face to Face in Argentina too), after the show when everybody left Todd was around stage and i aproached and said (with my horrible english) "hey...uh...great show...so....thanks for coming to my shitty country and thanks for playing Bringer of greater things" and he was really nice and down to earth, such a great guy,but looked like he didn't quite understood what i said due to my bad pronuociation (is that a word?) so i repeated it like 3 times and they were even worse than the first time.
anyway, great guy,awesome show.

We also made a song for them and Todd danced to it.check it out, we are hands down the coolest audience ever(his words not mine, well... also my words).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=osYrggz3xdQ&feature=related

Toto said...

and i know that when you watch that video you are gonna think
"oh my god! how the fuck can i be missing this?! i could have my own song!!"

yes you will.

Sean said...

Whenever I talk to Beex it feels like I'm with Martha Plimpton
in a fancy elevator.

The Super Erica said...

totally punished kenny baker, the guy who played yoda in the original trilogy. embarassing afterwards because i am pretty sure he is like on his death bed

Rhymes Akimbo said...

At the Cobra Skulls show here in Toronto I shouted to Chad "DRUMSTICK" after their set was over and they were packing their shit up on stage. I only shouted it once and he tossed me the stick and kinda waved at me. Does that make me a punisher?

megzster said...

I don't think I've ever "punished" anyone. That would require the power of speech. I'm more the shy, quiet, full- conversation- running- through- my- head- but- never- saying- a- word type of girl.

On that note, thank you BK, for making the first time getting drunk with my best friend a memorable experience on Tuesday night. Thanks for the hug too.

Andrew said...

yeah. jason shevchuck. hard.

Drunken Acorn said...

Ha, great post BK and great stories socks. I totally punished Adam from Cobra Skulls when they were in Az last. I told him he needed to write more songs and sing more. I was trying to be funny but now that I think about he was really uncomfortable.I did have a great conversation with Billy from D4, that was cool.

Tim Harwell said...

I'm definitely guilty of punishing on a few occasions. There are some people whom I think are unpunishable. Like Adam and Luke from Cobra Skulls. Those dudes are so easy to talk to. Joey Cape, too. He talked with me about It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia for a long time.

And if The Flatliners every come to Texas, I will be punishing them. Like a giddy school-boy.

Dave said...

Around ' 97 I once made the terrible mistake of punishing Matt Riddle while he waiting to take a leak in the bathroom. He was such a cool guy that after he came out of john he re-engaged me in a conversation by the merch for like 30 minutes. Definitely the nicest guy I have ever met involved in music.

Other people punished over the years - Dr. Frank, George Rebelo, Danny Vapid, BK, Jay Farrar, and Jason Cruz.

Mary said...

Great post. I've actually always wondered what your perspective was on some 'fans' behaviors or what they say.
I've had a few missed opportunities of expressing a respectable amount of admiration and appreciation for some of my favorite bands or musicians because I feared coming across as a fan girl or even worse, saying something that just pist them off. Icebreakers can be rough.