Post from Instagram by @harleyfflanagan, famed bassist of the seminal crossover hardcore punk band the Cro-Mags.
I grew up very much immersed in my local contemporary hardcore music scene. Like many, I was a depressed and angst ridden kid. While I experienced some good breaks, my life certainly wasn't without its challenges, especially as I settled more into my later teens and eatlrly 20s, which proved especially challenging. Through some of the darkest times in my life I found myself resonating with and finding strength to keep fighting in songs such as 'Life of my Own' by the Cro-Mags, and has become the soundtrack to some of the memories of the trying chapters of my path to where I am now.. (Harley came out with a memoir / autobiography by the same name of this song and I highly recommend it.)
Thinking back, I think the desperation and honesty based on life experience was what spoke to me most about hardcore music as a kid. At least in the early years of punk, bands were unapologetic, abrasive, and far from concerned with sheepish PC socio-political nonsense that did not match up with the reality of the life that these artists were living and experiencing, trying to survive this life and come out on top. There was a deeper philosophy to this spiritual music, but it was raw, to the point, and empirically based.
In middle and highschool in the early to middle 2000s I emmersed myself in the contemporary hardcore scene. The honesty I found so attractive about the historical scenes of the 80s in DC, LA, New York's Lower East Side, and the Long Island scene where I was from to a lesser extent, seemed to be a pathetically neutered shell of its former visceral glory in the form my generation inherited it. Bands no longer seemed dangerous artistically, though physically you might easily get your nose broken at even the most mundane local matinee. This was the era of 'Beat Down' hardcore. None of the bands I saw seemed to express narratives that deviated from the expected in any really meaningful way because often times there lacked the dangerous life and existential catalysts that fueled the early incarnations of this movement and its vitality. There was hormones, sure, and violence on the dancefloor was a staple of the shows I regularly attended, but the spiritual expression, the existential desperation was non existent; a spectral ghost.
Over the years, inevitably, the ideas and movements associated with hardcore punk become soiled and spoiled rotten, codified by mainstream influence and become stagnant pools of predictability. A cartoonish charactature ov its former self. Certainly this was the case by the time I became involved in this music. It is also I find typical that men who in their youth, without a pot to piss in, could afford to be reckless in their youth, having little risk and little to lose, As men become increasingly comfortable, resting on their laurels of their accomplishments, complacency settles in and men will find themselves unwilling to risk, given the higher stakes, to rock the boat by publicly making statements that go against the safe status quo narratives, especially when they masquerade themselves these days as 'edgy' and of the spirit of the early punk rock glory. Laughable...
Over the years I became more and more disillusioned and dissatisfied with the local hardcore 'scene' or 'community', though I am still grateful for the foundational influence of some of the larger than life characters that made up the forefathers of the genre; Men such as Harley, Glen Danzig, Henry Rollins, Vic Diacara, Ian Mackaye... These men in the hight ov their glory days were legendary gods among men to me as a youth, and in a lot of ways and in all honesty they still are, and I am thankful for any and all small inspirations I could glean from punk rock's 'higher self', its essential abstract spirit, in contrast of its shortcomings in reality as I experienced it.
It is for this reason that, while this message expressed here by Harley Flanagan, might be common amongst my brothers in Operation Werewolf, or amongst strong men who could afford the price of honesty throughout history, I am happy to see this man unwilling to submit in his older wiser days to a neutered submission to the mainstream narrative of egalitarian delusion. Equality and diversity are oil and water, two concepts that are absolutely impossible to reconcile, no matter what neo marxists, post modern academia says. I would rather listen to a man who has survived on the streets of new york in its harsher years, faced death and violence numerous times, toured the world, and rolled on ju jitsu mats with thousands of men, than some arm chair gender studies professor with zero real life experience, on the way of the world. Do not suffer the condescending tone of these weaklings as they spoil our hearts, our spirits, our minds and castrate our ambitions.
Might is Right. The Natural Law is Tooth and Claw; All else is Error!
92. 93. 666.
"Memories of the times you had
That's the way you see yourself
You fight for your rights
You fight to survive
You come into this world
With nothing except yourself
You, you leave this world
With nothing except yourself
Do what you want
And how you want it
Feel it's right, go out and do it
Think for yourself
And think for the best
Or you'll go down just like the rest"
Harley Flanagan on the Jocko Wilink Podcast.
( from a Operation Werewolf shirt design. visit www.operationwerewolf.com )