Punk Rock Academy Fight Song – When I was young and wanted to set the world on fire

October 3, 2012

Punk Rock Academy Fight Song - When I was young and wanted to set the world on fireBy the time you read this fall will be in rearing its head, school will be in full swing and Halloween decorations will be gracing our lawns and front porches. But right now I’ve still got summer on the brain- maybe it’s the just damn heat which makes me glad I no longer live in the SGV but its still pretty hot in Long Beach (yeah cry me a river i live in long Beach and a work a couple miles from the beach).Any way as I’ve gotten older and settled in to my career -quick updatefor those of you who missed my first column or forgot because my output has slowed down to Haleys comet like sightings lately-Im in my sixth year as a high school counselor by day-I’ve realized I feel like I’ve become more of a part time Punk. But when summer rolls around I’m not an authority figure, and i use that term loosely, Im just a husband, a dad, a surfer and a Punk. For seven straight weeks I don’t have to wear pants, a collared or shoes for that matter. although I do get dressed up for my anniversary  on July 7 heat be damned I gotta look good for the wifey. I get to live in band t-shirts-this year it was a steady rotation of Rancid, Bad Brains, US BOMBS and Dead Kennedys not that I’m that cool its just those are some of the only non black t-shirts I own -and boardshorts. I get to enjoy the perplexed look and off base  comments of midwestern tourists when i wear the previously mentioned Bad Brains T-shirt on a family visit to DisneyLand. I get to stay up late and re read the Rum Diary while watching Clash and Jimmy Cliff Videos on Youtube. But as summer starts to slowly fade into autumn and I start to break out my shoes and dress pants from the back of the closet a faint thought of self doubt starts to creep into the back of my brain. Am I still rebellious. Am I still an outsider. Am I still challenging conventions and making changes in our society -Did I ever? You see when I was eighteen I thought of myself as  some kind of mix of Hunter S. Thompson, Jack Kerouac and Joe Strummer with a surfboard and a mohawk. I was going to write for Rolling Stone and change the world or least turn people on to some of my favorite bands. I was going to be Zack De La Rocha without the dreads or maybe just Greg Graffin without the big words and all the science stuff-sorry I was a history major and big words freak me out. I’ve always wanted to rally people against oppression and injustice or maybe save a couple of dolphins here and there, i do donate to Surfrider and Greenpeace. When it comes to trying to make the world a bit better I’ve always been a cockeyed optimist, a pollyanna and a true believer. When I wore my R.E.M. t-shirt with the line “Understand the power of a single action” I took that as gospel. That’s what part of the allure that punk had over other genres-the desire and attitude to rock the boat, make things different and turn the world upside down. I know it may seem self absorbed and self indulgent to lament the fact that I’m not Gandhi, Mandela, Marley or even Bono-hell Adam Clayton for that matter but it’s really more of a reflection about having stayed true to my core beliefs and ideals as opposed to my rightful place in the pantheon of great upstarts and revolutionaries. Is that kid whose favorite quotes were “Question Authority” and “Sir could you describe the ruckus?” still inside me.

Then a couple of things happened this month. A couple of weeks ago I heard a familiar voice outside of my office, It was a former student stopping by to pick up some transcripts or other school records. This student was one of the first kids I worked with my first year as the at risk counselor at my school six years ago. This kid was like an early Social D song come to life-looks of trouble, lots of problems and not a lot of hope or so it seemed. He was never rude or disrespectful at school but just a lot of issues outside of school. He was the type of kid you wished and hoped for the best but who gave you knots in your stomach thinking of what might happen. So I hadn’t seen him in a couple of years-so i hoped for the best and thought about the worst and in he walks looking happy healthy, clean and sober and with a two year old daughter. We talk for a couple of minutes, I say hi to his daughter and I smile. Now the second thing that snapped my out of my self doubt was that one of my current students stopped by my office and gave me a coffee mug that she had decorated with the words worlds awesome'st counselor and all of the O’s were skulls. Have I gone out and set the world on fire? Maybe, maybe not. Am I changing the world-damn right! Am I still a Punk -till the day I die.

-Daniel N-
Big Wheel Staff Columnist

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