hank and i have been watching and listening and discussing the occupy movement. many compare it to the hippie, yippie thing in the 60s. we're not sure that link is very strong. oh my, why? wasn't the hippie thing a revolution, the definition of counter-culture power? no and no.

the velvet revolution in then czechoslovakia in the late 80s that brought democracy, ended communism, was a real revolution. the people who tore down the berlin wall by hand often, around the same time, exhibited a lot of power that countered the culture, not only of their countries but all of europe.

the spirit of other 'revolutions', other than america circa 1968, might be at play here. like punk music, it's social and political context and how it links to occupy. you know; what happened or is happening, why and how. some very striking similarities.

so we're talking about a revolution. occupy isn't close. but they're trying. the punk movement was at least as revolutionary, on many levels, as the hippie hippie shake. it was more than bad, loud guitars, than home-made haircuts, than ears pierced with safety pins (i did this with a lot of beer and ice. it hurt and became infected. i was proud.) it was more than the bands and the notoriety, particularly in britain.

for me, part of the 'after generation' (we came after everything important had been done), hearing the clash or the sex pistols was that cathartic moment that changed the music i listened to and my thinking about the world. led zeppelin - gone. rush - chuck it. kiss - me goodbye. hello the buzzcocks, echo and the bunnymen and the young canadians.

we weren't part of any revolution in suburban canada, but we were extremely interested. we listened to bands from the u.k. mostly. british punk had far more impact, in my opinion, than north american punk, perhaps because it wasn’t seen as a teenage phase, but spoke to a deeper current of despair, needing repair, in britain. american punk bubbled, british punk blew up. it was the counter-cultural side of a period of economic, political and social turmoil in that country.

its anger was fuelled by a lack of opportunity, an aloof (to be kind) government and people running low on hope. at that time 'anarchy in the u.k.' meant more than t-shirt sales. people like joe strummer, singer, songwriter of the clash, now dead 10 years, became ersatz voices for this alienation.

and now we have occupy, leadership on the fly at the moment. and people alienated, and angry, resentful. people knowing the need for change throughout a flawed, bloated, centralised system. the punk movement, superficially at least, took aim at the record industry and the plodding music at the time. they changed stagnant to strident. they did it themselves, learning how to play and record, creating venues and record labels, figuring out the media and winning some of them over.

it was essential d.i.y. - do it yourself. screw you, we'll find our own way.

that same d.i.y. attitude occupies part of occupy, just people figuring out what to do next because they're tired of how today is and don't like what they think tomorrow will be.

the similarities are many.

like occupy, there wasn't a single point of reference for punk crashing the scene - no riot, no war, just a series of moments accumulated.

like occupy, it was a conglomerate of disses - satisfaction, enfranchisement, illusionment, turbed and 'dis whole thing's gotta change.

like occupy, it was a reaction of the voiceless, an anger and hopelessness channelled.

like occupy, it made a noise that people rallied around, made a lot of people take notice and made a lot of people nervous.

i hope that in the days to come, occupy keeps that spirit, maybe they might polish it a bit, but it is an essential part of the movement. it sets it apart, attracts people not normally attracted to such things. without that spirit, that grassroots energy, the individual saying we can find a better way, where will it go and why?


 





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