Monday, September 8, 2014

Transportation Punk by City of Pieces at Sunday Streets

At Sunday Streets the headlines were mostly about MarchFourth, and they were a delight. If you can't admire the acting and skill and strength of the stiltwalkers - you are not alive!

But a local connection was the highlight here.

City of Pieces - you may well recognize some of the faces! - offered ironic commentary on the Capitol steps. It was like an imaginary analogue, older and hopefully wiser, to the whole DC Dischord scene for a brief moment. That was pretty great.

City of Pieces at Salem Sunday Streets - SJ photo

"Blessed by the City of Salem"

Well I've been blessed by the city of Salem
She is the city of peace
She is the city of trees
Well I've been blessed with a bike rack -
A wheel-bender!
And I've been blessed with a sharrow
What's a sharrow?
I'll tell you
It is a bike with an arrow!

Well I've been blessed by the city of Salem
She is the city of peace
She is the city of trees
Well she got something to say
About the way I ride by bike
About the way I ride my skateboard
About the way I park my car
Well I got something to say
About her downtown policies
The way she cut down all my trees
Without asking my consent

[together] Well I've been blessed
Yeah I feel blessed

What was your favorite moment?

Curt makes a very good point in the comments. If punk rock first seemed an urban, metropolitan phenomenon in London, New York, Los Angeles, then a second wave had a huge presence in the suburbs and was also associated with skateboard mobility.

Bad Religion's 1988 Suffer
via Wikipedia
There is lots of suburban, low-density imagery in the music, and land-use and the disconnectedness of people living far (emotionally or physically) from each other is at the very least a strong subtext.

As Curt suggests there's a substantial link between land use patterns, transportation, and the music.

But at the same time, it's an open question whether it's cause or just a correlation. If you moved suburban punk rock kids to a more urban environment, they'd still be angsty and rebellious, right? The formation of teenage identity, generational conflict, and stifling conformity would still occur in our New Urbanist Utopias, wouldn't they? Kids will always want something distinct from the "Dad rock" of Mom or Dad.

I see a pattern of urban musical innovation traveling to the suburbs. Jazz preceded rock-and-roll in this. After punk rock, hip-hop and its successors made the same move and have for some time been well established in the suburbs. So is there anything inherently suburban about punk rock or is the correlation just an accident of history?

Any readers with a deep knowledge of punk rock history, especially its sociology?

Update, February 3rd, 2015

A record!


Curt said...

If you have any interest in exploring the way the suburban experiment has spawned teenage angst and the hardcore punk culture of the 80's and 90's, the film Suburbia might be of interest.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Glad you highlighted the connection! Updated with additional comment.

Curt said...

I was first exposed as a teenager in suburban Orlando.

Maybe the most iconic song ever written about the suburbs: Subdivisions by Rush....

"Any escape might help to smooth the unattractive truth... that the suburbs have to charms sooth the restless dreams of youth!"

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Updated with news about a record!