It’s been said that life is just a series of moments. Most of these moments are just average ordinary moments. Some of these moments we know will have a lasting effect. What I’m here to talk about are the moments that seem ordinary but when we look back we truly see how significant such a moment was. How an entire life trajectory can be set in motion by one seemingly innocent little event, a single moment in time, or in this case, 3 minutes.
The year was 1994, after 6 years of elementary school at the same place, they shut it down and opened a new one designed to accommodate the growing community or for safety or who fucking cares. The point is it was this brand new building. Then you factor in that feeling when you’re the oldest grade in a school. You’ve been through it, you know all tricks, all the staff not to fuck with. You feel like you’re the kings and queens of the place. New school; top dogging; feeling amazing. People don’t talk enough about how great of time this period in life is. Maybe the shit storm of puberty and middle school cloud the memory.
These were but a couple of the many changes that abounded me that year. I had spent the summer visiting my dad, who, for the first time in my life, now lived in different state. So I really started to process and internalize my parents’ divorce. You know, healthy kid stuff. I began to branch out and made new friends. Skateboarding, while not new, found a resurgence and made it to my little suburban neck of the world. And a music video filled with neon colors, fucked up masks, and three of the most unhinged looking musicians I have ever seen played some of the fastest most distorted music I have ever heard.
I was in love.
Three minutes and 3 seconds of this weirdo whining about nothing and everything all at once and I knew I wanted more of it. At different points in my life I got super into MC Hammer and Metallica, but my interest in those artist drastically paled in comparison to how I went all in on Green Day. I bought their album Dookie; I learned about their earlier work; found out what other bands they liked, or that sounded like them, or had also been on Lookout Records. The next few years of my life had no metal, no hip hop, no pop, it was all punk rock. There was some country just because that’s what my mom liked and she still had to drive me places, and she was usually in charge of the radio. She has since learned the names of some Rancid songs.
What I know now, looking back on my life and everything I have experienced, all my moments, is how much of my life has been defined by punk rock. I owe many of my friendships to punk rock. My attempts to play music and appreciation for music comes from punk rock. My sense of community, and helping my fellow human comes from punk rock, well that and Spider-Man and good parenting.
Hell, this website was named after a punk song. Half of my closet is filled with punk t-shirts. Every one of my tattoos has some punk rock inspiration to them. By far the biggest influence in my life is this music, comic books a close second.
There is a lyric from Rancid, “I heard G.B.H. I made a decision/Punk rock is my religion.” I was baptized in that water for sure. As I’ve grown and matured I have branched out more and have accepted all sorts of music into my life, but at the end of the day it always comes back to punk rock. As I always keep in mind the passage from Ramones 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only three chords, and whoever believes in them shall burn out or fade away but have eternal life.” I got a little lost here, but the point remains punk rock is great, has been a major thread through my life, and suspect it always will be.
I never thought too much about this. I was just living my life, enjoying this music, and enjoying it with other people who enjoyed it. And maybe this is just one of those things that starts to come with age. Getting introspective and looking back and understanding all the little things that have led me to this particular place. Whatever it is, it has shown me that “Basket Case” is the most important song in my life.
So much of everything that is kick ass about my life can be traced back to this song and video. Which is why this is the only video that was on the advent calendar and the birthday countdown. So it deserved more than a few social media words about. It needed this love letter, this thank you note. What an amazing song and video, and how lucky I feel to have it hit my life when it did, and resonate with me still nearly 30 years later. Fuck I’m getting old.
Thanks for indulging this melodramatic fool in my video countdown, and maybe this is some insight to why I’m doing it, why it’s important to me, and appreciate how difficult it is for me to not fill the remainder of the list with punk videos.
“I heard Basket Case. I made a decision. Punk rock is my religion!”