Talkin' Punk to the Masses
Forty People on What Punk Means to Them
The popularity of the EMP's recent exhibition Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses proved that Nirvana indeed might have taken punk to the masses. So what does punk mean to the masses? I asked people on the street and the internet what punk means to them, and 60 percent of those asked were happy to respond. Age is noted when it was provided, but a lot of people sure are bashful about saying how ancient they are.
Elias N., 27, Austin, Texas: "15-year-olds throwing up behind a barn."
Johnny, 37, Sodo: "Punk? That's the kid we used to beat up."
Erin P., Bothell: "Individuality, even though most of the time everybody has the same dress code. It was different when I was back in high school. I graduated in 2001."
Stephen P., 11, Everett: "I think it's a kind of music with the yelling, right?"
Gordon M., Central District: "A movement that came out of the '80s. It was basically a counterculture. People were guided by a sense of anarchism. They gathered together in collectives, they lived kind of a squatter lifestyle. I remember seeing some documentaries about it."
Sandy, 17, Butte, Montana: "Hot Topic. Punk is a really hot topic."
Carrie, 38, Seattle: "Punk has many different meanings. You can be punk'd by Ashton Kutcher or you could be a punk kid, a thug."
Ruben M., 31, Seattle: "Not giving a fuck."
Rich, 19, Capitol Hill: "I'm not entirely sure, honestly. I never quite got into the genre."
Justin, 17, used to live in Seattle: "Punk means black fucking people Mohawks intense dancing hiphop jumping white guys skinny jeans."
Jordan, 25, Queen Anne: "Punk is making all the choices and taking all of the responsibilities to lead your life the way you want to lead it."
Ian, Madison Valley: "Punk is a style of music that originated in the late '60s and early '70s and is based on amateurism and rebellion and I guess conventionally thought of as having an anticorporate ethos."
Ozone, 26, Rainier Beach: "My understanding is that punk is a culture that started in England, around the late '60s, early '70s; groups like the Ramones and things like that spearheaded the movement. To me, to put it bluntly, it's the white version of hiphop."
Wyatt, Kenmore: "Punk is not really giving a fuck. Or pretending not to give a fuck and trying to act like it."
Bree, 27, Seattle: "No. No, no, no, no, no. I just took a Xanax. I can't answer that."
Gregory J., Chicago, Illinois: "At its best, aesthetic incompetence."
Hugh E., West Hollywood, California: "CBGB, Vivienne Westwood, the Sex Pistols, safety pins, spiked Mohawks, Patti Smith, the late '70s, tight plaid pants, fuck off."
Michelle H., Seattle: "Being grounded for watching Sid & Nancy in the eighth grade, Minor Threat back patches, and Robitussin."
Oliver W., 6, Seattle: "Like pumpkins?"
Dre G., 34, Seattle: "Fuckin' shit up!"
Faith, 51, Windsor, Ontario: "Sex Pistols. That is all."
Nathan L., 28, Norman, Oklahoma: "It doesn't mean much, really."
Erol C., Chicago, Illinois: "Three chords and anger."
Tressa S., 37, Chicago, Illinois: "Knowing it all. Everyone else is dumb. Bad choices."
Heather R., 37, Strongsville, Ohio: "Pink Mohawks!"
Amy B., 30, Seattle: "Frenching my Sid Vicious look-alike boyfriend on his mom's couch while The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle played in the background. He was wearing leopard-print briefs, I think he only had like one pair of underpants or something, circa 1996."
Darcy, 17, Seattle: "Punk means not caring about anything."
Adam R., 38, Pleasant Grove, Alabama: "Punk means anything. Literally. It means do whatever you want, when you want. It's not a sound or a look. It's a state of mind."
Tony M., Chicago, Illinois: "Pasta. Rejection and being rejected. Terrible housekeeping. Trying too hard. Sloppy smiles. Transient."
Suzie S., 32, Seattle: "Making out in or against a Dumpster."
Owen P., Sydney, Australia: "Never having to say you're sorry."
Coco H., 42, Seattle: "Smart people with good taste."
Elli C., Seattle: "Fucking Jesus in the ass with a crucifix."
Jillian M., 31, Seattle: "Smoke weed e'ryday."
Clarita H., 34, Seattle: "I hate you, Ronald Reagan!"
Lele B., 35, Seattle: "It means I don't always compost."
Rich E., Orlando, Florida: "Punk rock is giving your mom the finger."
Rod M., Austin, Texas: "Suede creepers and illegal downloads."
Pete C., Seattle: "Sleeping in my piss, my old man's a fatso, spray-paint the walls, bite it you scum, and giving your dog named Razor Jaws stick 'n' poke facial tattoos."
Justin D., Seattle: "Don't be a dick, except to assholes."