Posted by: Mike Ferruggia | July 14, 2010

The Punk Rock Scene; Taoists in Leather


I had a blast last week, finally getting a chance to see my godson play at the Highline Ballroom in NYC–and I was blown away at the punk scene and have been thinking about it since. The music was excellent; there were about 4 bands that played, including Thomas’ Dangerous Muse. I was mesmerized by the people in the audience, all doing their own thing, some a little more outrageous than others, and I couldn’t keep my eyes off the chick with the fishnets, boots, and german officer’s cap, because she just came in and did her own thing, immediately started dancing, some cool moves.

So I went home and did some research on punk. I like the music, but I’m not a punker and haven’t been into the scene, but there is a real kinship between the punk philosophy and taoism, and the night rejuvenated a lot of feelings inside of me. I don’t know how seriously most puink rockers take this stuff or if they are just out having a good time, but here it is:

Number one on the list for punk is DIY–do it yourself. Don’t rely on the system or corporations to get things done for you. Do it yourself. Just get it out there. Be independent. Punk is counter cultural, anti establishment, anti corporation exploitation, and for sure, anti conformism. Conformity is one of the great killers of our souls and one of the major ways we are controlled. Fascism, authoritarianism, conformity.

The taoist steps outside the system as well, refusing to conform, refusing to be controlled, refusing to sell out. The punk credo is very in your face, very into shock value, with the clothes and the hair and the tattoos and the piercings, which isn’t really taoist, but the taoist does just kind of wear what is utilitarian.

There seems to be a dark side to the punk scene, a sort of chip on the shoulder, mad at everyone, “I will not conform to your fucking rules” kind of thing. But I don’t know how pervasive that is. There are also subcultures of punk that can be very nihilistic and even suicidal…but that’s too broad a stroke and like taoism, once you try to define punk, or say it has to be this or that, it’s no longer punk. I suppose what’s most important in punk is freedom, as it is in taoism.

Yeah, the night ruined me because it resurrected those feelings in me, of wanting so bad to extricate myself from this matrix I’m in, sucked in by a system that seduces you with a little bit and then keeps you in. I do want to step outside of it all, as a monk, as a taoist, as a tai chi player, as a punk rocker, as all these things and just say no to the exploitation and control. I have one foot in and one foot out. The in foot likes having an apartment, a car, money for gas and food and smokes. The other foot doesn’t want to buy into what you have to do to have those things.

There’s a way out. People are full of suggestions. But the bottom line is the time might just come, like it did for Lao Tzu, to just leave the city, write the Tao de Ching, and say, fuck this, I’m outta here!


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