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The punk subculture is a youth movement based around punk rock. Punk first emerged from the rock music scene in the United States and the United Kingdom in the mid-1970s. Since then, the punk movement has spread around the world and developed into a number of different forms with much regional variation. Punk culture encompasses certain styles of music, ideology, fashion, visual art, dance, literature, and film. Punks tend to live a certain lifestyle and share a sense of community with one another. The punk scene is composed of an assortment of smaller subcultures, such as Oi! and hardcore punk. These subcultures distinguish themselves from one another through unique variations on punk culture. Several of these factions have developed out of punk to become youth movements in their own right, including straight edge, goth and psychobilly. Punk has had a tumultuous relationship with both popular culture and other subcultures. within the movement. Cities in Australia, South Africa, and Japan also played host to early scenes. Early punk had an abundance of antecedents and influences, and Jon Savage has described the subculture as a "bricolage" of almost every previous youth culture that existed in the West since the Second World War "stuck together with safety pins". Various philosophical, political, and artistic movements influenced the subculture. In particular, punk drew inspiration from several strains of modern art. Various writers, books, and literary movements were important to the formation of the punk aesthetic. Punk rock has a variety of musical origins both within the rock and roll genre and beyond. The earliest form of punk rock, named protopunk in retrospect, started as a garage rock revival in the northeastern United States in the late 1960s. The first ongoing music scene that was assigned the punk label appeared in New York City between 1974 and 1976. At about the same time or shortly afterward, a punk scene developed in London. Soon after, Los Angeles became home to the third major punk scene. These three cities formed the backbone of the burgeoning movement, but there were also other scenes in a number of cities such as Brisbane and Boston. Around 1977, the subculture began to diversify with the proliferation of factions such as 2 Tone, Oi!, pop punk, New Wave, and No Wave. In the United States during the early 1980s, punk underwent a renaissance in the form of hardcore punk, which sought to do away with the frivolities introduced in the later years of the original movement, while at the same time Britain saw a parallel movement called streetpunk. Hardcore and streetpunk then spread to other regions just as the original subculture had. In the mid-1980s to the early 1990s in America, various underground scenes either directly evolved from punk or at least applied its attitudes to new styles, in the process producing the alternative rock and indie music scenes. A new movement in the United States became visible in the early and
Two UK punks in a train carriage in 1986; note the hand-stencilled Crass symbol painted on the coat of on the man on the right The punk subculture first emerged in the United States and the United Kingdom in the mid-1970s. Exactly which region originated punk has long been a major controversy
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mid-1990s that sought to revive the punk movement, doing away with some of the trappings of hardcore.
The punk subculture is centered around listening to recordings or live concerts of a loud, aggressive genre of rock music called punk rock, usually shortened to punk. While most punk rock uses the distorted guitars and noisy drumming that is derived from 1960s garage rock and 1970s pub rock, some punk bands incorporate elements from other subgenres, such as metal (e.g., mid-1980sera Discharge) or folk rock (Billy Bragg). Different punk subcultures often distinguish themselves by having a unique style of punk rock, although not every style of punk rock has its own associated subculture. Most punk rock songs are short, have simple and somewhat basic arrangements using relatively few chords, and they use lyrics that express punk values and ideologies ranging from the nihilism of the Sex Pistols’ "No Future" to the positive, anti-drug message of Minor Threat’s "Straight Edge". Punk rock is usually played in small bands rather than by solo artists. Punk bands usually consist of a singer, one or two overdriven electric guitars, an electric bass player, and a drummer (the singer may be one of the musicians). In some bands, the band members may do backup vocals, but these typically consist of shouted slogans, choruses, or football(soccer)-style chants, rather than the sweet, arranged harmony vocals of pop bands.
A German punk faces a line of riot police at a 1984 protest. Conservative Punk website), neo-Nazi views (Nazi punk), or are apolitical (e.g.horror punk). Early British punks expressed nihilistic views with the slogan No Future, which came from the Sex Pistols song "God Save the Queen". In the United States, punks had a different approach to nihilism based on their "unconcern for the present" and their "disaffection from both middle and working class standards". Punk nihilism was expressed in the use of "harder, more self-destructive, consciousness-obliterating substances like heroin, or ... methamphetamine" and by the "mutilation of the body" with razor blades.
Punk politics cover the entire political spectrum, although most punks could be categorized as having left-wing or progressive views. Punk-related ideologies are mostly concerned with individual freedom and anti-establishment views. Common punk viewpoints include anti-authoritarianism, a DIY ethic, non-conformity, direct action and not selling out. Other notable trends in punk politics include nihilism, anarchism, socialism, anti-militarism, anti-capitalism, anti-racism, anti-sexism, anti-nationalism, anti-homophobia, environmentalism, vegetarianism, veganism and animal rights. However, some individuals within the punk subculture hold right-wing views (such as those associated with the
Punk fashion in the early 1980s Punks seek to outrage propriety with the highly theatrical use of clothing, hairstyles, cosmetics, tattoos, jewelry and body modification. Early punk fashion adapted existing
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objects for aesthetic effect: ripped clothing is held together by safety pins or wrapped with tape; ordinary clothing is customized by embellishing it with marker or adorning it with paint; a black bin liner becomes a dress, shirt or skirt; safety pins and razor blades are used as jewelry. Leather, rubber, and vinyl clothing are also popular, possibly due in part to the fact that the general public associates it with transgressive sexual practices like bondage and S&M. Punks also sometimes wear tight "drainpipe" jeans, Plaid or Tartan pants,T-shirts with risqué images, rocker jackets (which are often decorated by painting on band logos, adorning the lapels and pocket flaps with pins and buttons, and covering sections of the jacket, especially the back and sleeves of the jacket, in large numbers of carefully placed studs or spikes), and footwear such as Converse sneakers, skate shoes, brothel creepers, or Dr. Martens boots. Some punks style their hair to stand in spikes, cut it into Mohawks or other dramatic shapes, often coloring it with vibrant, unnatural hues. Punks tend to adorn their favorite jacket or vest with pin-back buttons and patches of bands they love and ideas they believe in, telling the world around them a little bit about who they are. They sometimes flaunt taboo symbols such as the Iron Cross. Some early punks occasionally wore clothes displaying a Nazi swastika for shock-value, but most modern punks are staunchly anti-racist and are more likely to wear a crossed-out swastika symbol. In contrast to punks who believe the fashion is a central part of the punk subculture, there are some punks who are decidedly "anti-fashion," arguing that music and/or ideology should define punk, not fashion. This is most common in the post-1980s US hardcore punk scene, where members of the subculture often dressed in tshirts and jeans, rather than the more elaborate outfits and spiked, dyed hair of their late 1970s UK punk predecessors.
such as social injustice and economic disparity. The use of images of suffering to shock and create feelings of empathy in the viewer is common. Alternatively, punk artwork may contain images of selfishness, stupidity, or apathy to provoke contempt in the viewer. Much of the earlier artwork was in black and white, because it was distributed in zines reproduced at copy shops. Punk art also uses the mass production aesthetic of Andy Warhol’s Factory studio. Punk played a hand in the revival of stencil art, spearheaded by Crass. The Situationists also influenced the look of punk art, particularity that of the Sex Pistols. Punk art often utilizes collage, exemplified by the art of Dead Kennedys, Crass, Jamie Reid, and Winston Smith. John Holmstrom was a punk cartoonist who created work for the Ramones and Punk Magazine. The Stuckism art movement had its origin in punk, and titled its first major show The Stuckists Punk Victorian at the Walker Art Gallery during the 2004 Liverpool Biennial. Charles Thomson, co-founder of the group, described punk as "a major breakthrough" in his art.
Two dance styles associated with punk are pogo dancing and moshing. Stage diving and crowd surfing were originally associated with protopunk bands such as The Stooges, and have appeared at punk, metal and rock concerts. Ska punk promoted an updated version of skanking. Hardcore dancing is a later development influenced by all of the above mentioned styles. Pyschobillies prefer to "wreck", a form of slam dancing that involves people punching each other in the chest and arms as they move around the circle pit.
Punk has generated a considerable amount of poetry and prose. Punk has its own underground press in the form of punk zines, which feature news, gossip, cultural criticism, and interviews. Some zines take the form of perzines. Important punk zines include Maximum RocknRoll, Punk Planet, Cometbus, and Search & Destroy . Several novels, biographies, autobiographies, and comic books have been written about punk. Love and Rockets is a notable comic with a plot involving the Los Angeles punk scene.
Punk aesthetics determine the type of art punks enjoy, usually with underground, minimalistic, iconoclastic and satirical sensibilities. Punk artwork graces album covers, flyers for concerts, and punk zines. Usually straightforward with clear messages, punk art is often concerned with political issues
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others. One of the highlights of the movie is footage of the Sex Pistols playing "God Save the Queen" on a barge in the middle of the Thames during the Silver Jubilee of Elizabeth II, and their subsequent arrest. The No Wave Cinema and Remodernist film movements owe much to punk aesthetics. Derek Jarman and Don Letts are notable punk filmmakers. Many other films are associated with punk, such as 24 Hour Party People, which presents the evolution of punk rock into New Wave and Madchester, and Threat, which focuses on militant Straight edge punks in the New York hardcore scene.
A selection of British and American punk zines, 1994-2004 Examples of punk poets include: Richard Hell, Jim Carroll, Patti Smith, John Cooper Clarke, Seething Wells, Raegan Butcher, and Attila the Stockbroker. The Medway Poets performance group included punk musician Billy Childish and had an influence on Tracey Emin. Jim Carroll’s autobiographical works are among the first known examples of punk literature. The punk subculture has inspired the cyberpunk and steampunk literature genres.
Lifestyle and community
Punks can come from any and all walks of life and economic classes. The subculture is predominantly male, with the exception of the riot grrrl movement. Compared to some alternative cultures, punk is much closer to being gender equalist in terms of its ideology. Although the punk subculture is mostly antiracist, it is vastly white (at least in predominantly-white countries). However, members of other groups (such as Blacks, Latinos, and Asians) have also contributed to the development of the subculture. Substance abuse has sometimes been a part of the punk scene, with the notable exception of the straight edge movement. Violence has also sometimes appeared in the punk subculture, but has been opposed by some subsets of the subculture, such as the pacifist strain of anarcho-punk. Punks often form a local scene, which can have as few as half a dozen members in a small town, or as many as thousands of members in a major city. A local scene usually has a small group of dedicated punks surrounded by a more casual periphery. A typical punk scene is made up of punk and hardcore bands; fans who attend concerts, protests, and other events; zine publishers, band reviewers, and writers; visual artists who create illustrations for zines, posters, and album covers; people who organize concerts, and people who work at music venues or independent record labels. Squatting plays a role in some punk communities, providing shelter and other forms of support. Illegal squats in abandoned or condemned housing and communal "punk houses" sometimes provide bands a place to stay while they are touring. There are some punk
Many punk-themed films have been made, and punk rock music videos and punk skate videos are common. Punk films often intercut stock footage with news clips and home videos of band concerts. Several famous groups have participated in movies, such as the Ramones in Rock ’n’ Roll High School, the Sex Pistols in The Great Rock ’n’ Roll Swindle, and Social Distortion in Another State of Mind. Some well-known punks have had biographical films made about them, such as Sid and Nancy, which tells the story of the Sex Pistols’ bassist Sid Vicious (portrayed by Gary Oldman) and Nancy Spungen (portrayed by Chloe Webb). Original footage of punk bands is also often used in music documentaries. The seminal punk documentary is The Filth and the Fury, detailing the rise of the Sex Pistols. In addition to the members of that band and its affiliates (Malcolm McLaren, Vivienne Westwood, Nancy Spungen, etc.) it also features archival footage of Billy Idol, Sting, Shane McGowan, and a young teenaged girl who would grow up to be Siouxsie Sioux, among
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communes, such as the Dial House. The Internet has been playing an increasingly larger role in punk, specifically in the form of virtual communities and file sharing programs for trading music files.
who is deemed to not share or understand the values or philosophy of the subculture. While this perceived inauthenticity is viewed with scorn and contempt by members of the subculture, the definition of the term and to whom it should be applied is subjective and the subject of much debate. For example, the Television Personalities’ 1978 song “Part-Time Punks,” "declared that either everyone who wanted to be a punk was one or that everyone was a poseur (or both)" and it argues that "the concept of … punk rock authenticity … was a fiction." Music journalist Dave Rimmer’s book Like Punk Never Happened argues that the "first punk kids in London envisioned waging a revolution against the corruption that had undeniably crept into a becalmed and boring rock scene." Rimmer notes that the "terms in which they expressed their disdain for hangers-on and those whose post-hip credentials didn’t quite make it came straight out of the authenticity movements: "Poseurs" was the favorite epithet." Ross Buncle’s history of late-1970s punk rock in Perth, Australia claims that eventually the scene "opened the door to a host of poseurs, who were less interested in the music than in UKpunk fancy dress and being seen to be hip"; he praises the gigs where there "were no punk-identikit poseurs" in the audience. The term was used in several punk songs, in addition to the song “Part-Time Punks,” including the X-Ray Spex song "I am a Poseur", the early 1980s hardcore punk band MDC’s song "Poseur Punk", and California punk band NOFX’s song "Decom-poseur", which "lashes out" at "an entire population of bands … guilty of bastardizing a once socially feared and critically infallible genre" of punk. An article in Drowned in Sound argues that 1980s-era "hardcore is the true spirit of punk", because "after all the poseurs and fashionistas fucked off to the next trend of skinny pink ties with New Romantic haircuts, singing wimpy lyrics", the punk scene consisted only of people "completely dedicated to the DIY ethics"; punk "[l]ifers without the ambition to one day settle into the studywork-family-house-retirement-death scen ario."
A band plays on the tiny stage at the Berkeley, California punk venue at 924 Gilman Street.
The graffiti-covered backstage area at the Gilman Street venue.
In the punk and hardcore subcultures, members or the scene are often evaluated in terms of the authenticity of their commitment to the values or philosophies of the scene, which may range from political beliefs (e.g., in an anarcho-punk squat) to lifestyle practices (e.g., not using drugs or alcohol in a "straight edge" scene"). In the punk subculture, the epithet "poseur" (or "poser") is used to describe "a person who habitually pretends to be something he is not." The term is used to refer to a person who adopts the dress, speech, and/or mannerisms of a punk or hardcore subculture, generally for attaining acceptability within the group, yet
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In punk’s heyday, punks faced harassment and attacks from the general public and from members of other subcultures. In the 1980s in the UK, punks were sometimes involved in brawls with Teddy Boys, greasers, bikers, mods and members of other subcultures. There was also considerable enmity between positive punks and the glamorously dressed New Romantics.In the late 1970s punks have also been known to have confrontations with hippies due to the contrasting ideologies and backlash of the hippie culture.
Interactions with other subcultures
Glam rockers such as New York Dolls and David Bowie had big influences on protopunk, early punk rock and glam punk. Punk and hip hop emerged around the same time in the late 1970s New York City, and there has been some interaction between the two subcultures. Some of the first hip hop MCs called themselves punk rockers, and some punk fashions have found their way into hip hop dress. Malcolm McLaren played roles in introducing both punk and hip hop to the United Kingdom. Hip hop later influenced some punk and hardcore bands, such as Blaggers I.T.A., Biohazard, The Transplants and Refused. The skinhead subculture of the late 1960s — which had almost disappeared in the early 1970s — was revived in the late 1970s, partly because of the influence of punk rock, especially the Oi! punk subgenre. Conversely, ska and reggae, popular among traditionalist skinheads, has influenced several punk musicians. Punks and skinheads have had both antagonistic and friendly relationships, depending on the social circumstances, time period and geographic location. The punk and heavy metal subcultures have shared some similarities since punk’s inception. The early 1970s heavy metal scene had an influence on the development of protopunk. Alice Cooper was a forerunner of the fashion and music of both the punk and metal subcultures. Motörhead, since their first album release in 1977, have had continued popularity in the punk scene, and singer Lemmy is a fan of punk rock. Genres such as metalcore, grindcore and crossover thrash were greatly influenced by punk and heavy metal. The New Wave of British Heavy Metal influenced the UK 82 style of bands like Discharge, and hardcore punk was a primary influence on thrash metal bands such as Metallica and Slayer. The early 1990s grunge subculture was a fusion of punk anti-fashion ideals and metal-influenced guitar sounds. However, hardcore punk and grunge developed in part as reactions against the heavy metal music that popular during the 1980s. The industrial and rivethead subcultures have had several ties to punk, in terms of music, fashion and attitude.
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