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“I see you are a local Michigan native interested in punk music,” I said to a young punk fellow at my show at Kraftbrau in Kalamazoo, Mich. This young punk was enthusiastic about my band’s tunes. “Tell me,” I said. “How does one occupy oneself in the Great North?”
“How do I occupy myself?” said the punk. “What am I doing? Well, I’m doing my own thing. I mean, just me. I do my own thing. That is, I’m doing my own thing, now. I mean, it’s like this solo one-man band thing. I play guitar and some electronic stuff. I also play drums. All at the same time. It’s that kind of thing. I’ve done a few shows now. It’s just me. It’s a liberating thing. One show was okay. The other show was with these drunk punk kinda dudes. Really, it was not a great scene. So I was doing my thing and the crowd wasn’t into it too much, obviously. So I have been in this real Neil Young mode. Doing this real Neil Young stuff, you know? So I had a CD of Heart of Gold. So I brought the boom box onstage, right? So I have the boombox onstage with Heart of Gold in it, and I’m playing to all these drunk punks. So I couldn’t deal with them anymore so I just kinda played Heart of Gold, you know? I played it right there on my boombox and I held the mic up to the boombox, and there was Heart of Gold playing into the room, right at all these drunk punks. So the mic starts feeding back, right? So I’m onstage holding this mic up to my boombox and blasting this Heart of Gold feedback at all these drunk punks. So all these drunk punks get really fucking pissed. So they’re like, ‘Stop! Just stop!’ But I won’t stop, right? I just keep on blasting them with all this Heart of Gold feedback. The feedback is really wild, really alive in this really cool way. So the drunk punks jump on the stage and get me down on the ground, and start like kicking me. Really fucking like kicking me, being like ‘Stop! Stop! Stop!’ But I just kept blasting them with this feedback. Fucking Heart of Gold feedback. Let me tell you man, it was painful, but it was punk as fuck.”
“Wow,” I said. Goddammit, I thought. Michigan always has to be so rough. That’s like Michigan’s thing—-raw, rough, and real. Bluejeans and no underwear. There can’t be some fine Michigan afternoon where someone enjoys a milkshake or reads a contemporary novel or hears a chamber quartet. In Michigan, there always has to be some violence or drugs about. That’s Michigan’s schtick, ever since the MC5 had their revolutionary commune in Ann Arbor and the Stooges drove that truck into that overpass in Ann Arbor during a drug binge. Doesn’t anyone in Michigan ever go to the ballet or have tea and krumpets, or visit their grandmothers? Instead of a sunny, pleasant vibe, there’s always some speed or coke and something going wrong in a really legendary way. For example—-what did I do today in Michigan? I went to an organic market. None too legendary.
“Yeah,” said the punk. “I laid on the ground and got kicked. It was fucking punk.”
“Wow,” I said again.