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The Punk Rock Ethic, or "How I Learned To Hate Arena Rock"

June 18, 2000

The Paperless One was one a young, impressionable teenager, with posters all over his bedroom.  He loved music, and even regarded some of his favourite artists  in God-like status.

Okay, so not much has changed.  The Paperless One is now an older, jaded twentysomething with posters all over his office.  However, one thing has changed, and that is the way he regards bands.

This all started back in the late 1980's, when I went to see the Doughboys, who were touring across Canada for the first time in support of their debut album, Whatever.  The show was at a community centre in Kitchener in the middle of winter (and they forgot to turn on the heat, making the mosh pit all that much more enticing for a young, impressionable 15-year old), and the tickets were a whopping $5.00.

I remember hearing about the show on a local college station that I had recently started listening to after becoming fed up with the formulaic approach to music that the corporate rock stations had adopted.  The show featured two opening bands, Dunnville's PROBLEM CHILDREN, and Kitchener's NUNFUCKERS.  It was all too good to be true, but there was just one small problem:  transportation.

Somehow, I managed to talk my parents into giving me and a friend a ride to Kitchener to see a band called the NUNFUCKERS.  I can't really recall, but I'm certain that this must have required a great deal of sucking up to them, and maybe even a sidewalk shoveling or two!

I recall getting to the show early, so early, in fact, that the bands were even hanging around outside waiting to be let in.  This provided my dad with the perfect opportunity to approach the Nunfuckers and inquire about their choice of band name, as well as happily point out to them that they'd never "make it" with a name like that.

Through some sort of divine intervention, the doors opened, and the bands evaded further questioning from my dad.  When we got in the building, I witnessed a concept that was foreign to me - the bands were setting up their own equipment, and hanging around the community centre, sliding around in their wool socks.

The show itself was excellent, and formed a lasting impression in my mind.  I believe that Krist Novoselic said it best when eulogizing Kurt Cobain:  "No band is special, no artist a star."   Many years later, I still remember this show as though it were yesterday, and ironically enough, when I was wandering around the Reading Festival in Britain one year, who do I run into but John Kastner of the DOUGHBOYS?  Small world.

Winston, the dog who signs autographs!Since then, I've scoffed at groupie types who drool over bands because of their sheer popularity.  Once upon a time, Mrs. Paperless and I went to see Bush, and ended up hanging out with them in the laughable backstage dressing room at Lee's Palace in Toronto, where we partook in Spinal Tap sized catered sandwiches and conversation about Gavin's dog and where the beer-less band could get some suds at 2:30 am in Toronto, Winston (pictured on the inside cover of their debut album, "16 Stone").  The next time Bush played in Toronto, we stopped by after the show to say "hi", while they proudly told us that "this time they had their own beer".  They told us to watch out for the "contest winners", as several lucky fans had won a contest from a radio station to meet the band.  The band went along with it, but Nigel confessed that the best part of it was the free t-shirts that the band received from the radio station ("we wear them on the bus, now we don't have to do laundry on the road").

That's it until next week.  Thanks for tuning in, and thanks to Netsurfer Digest for pimping this site around the world last week.  Also, you guys at the National Institute of Health in the U.S.A., thanks for forwarding my URL to everyone you know (I just hope that it wasn't because you think I'm insane!), and just for being the National Institute of Health, not the CIA.  

For more ranting and raving, check out the work I've been doing for EPINIONS.

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