Kids of the Black Hole #1: What We Do Is Secret
by Mike Riley
Allow me to introduce myself...my name is Mike and at the end of January I'll be 32 years old. That's many years past the standard expiration date for most people that got into punk in their teens. Typically, upon graduation of college, when one enters "the real world" and is no longer able to rely upon the parents for help with the rent and bills, going to see some loud and obnoxious bands in someone's basement somehow becomes unappealing or a waste of time. In the past this aging punk rock fanatic would follow their forebearer's footsteps to more accessible indie-rock or pretentious art/rock, smoking and drinking their nights away in a smoky club rather than a crumbling warehouse. These days it seems the thing to do for people uninterested in heading to the Elks Lodge for the local show is to spend the day at work posting on messageboards about how "the kids today don't know what real punk is" or how "punk is dead" and it's time to let it rest in peace. Nevertheless, here I am, standing up front, rocking out with my fist in the air and sweating it out next to kids half my age, or screaming my head off on stage (aka, the floor) in front of 30 - 300 kids everywhere from Baltimore to Birmingham to London to Los Angeles.

While it's true that I do sometimes feel a bit disconnected from my teenage counterparts I still get enough out of this music and the scene that surrounds it to keep me involved. Every tour I go on I'm bound to meet at least one person that I connect with and am soon able to consider a good friend. Every time I do a show for a touring band and I see the same look in the eyes of the kids that are so excited to be singing along to this band that they love I am instantly taken back to my younger years when that elation was mine. I am also still able to find new favorite bands every few months or so, and to be able to say that after over 15 years of listening to this music is a pretty
amazing feat in and of itself.

What I hope to offer with this column is a look into what the punk scene is still able to do for people like me. People who weren't accepted into, or didn't want to be a part of, what the "cool kids" were doing. People who saw their parents killing themselves to survive in an economy that didn't care about them, working jobs they hated to be able to pay the bills and put food on the table. Kids who saw the "American Dream" for the fallacy it really is. Punk music and fashion may have been co-opted by mainstream corporations, like any good counter-culture eventually is, but there's still a spirit of rebellion buried deep beneath mountains of Hot Topic sales reciepts, Chips Ahoy television ads, and fauxhawk hair gel, and I still have hope that that spirit will once again show itself before its gone for good. Through my personal musings on the state of punk here in Baltimore and in the world in general, through interviews with young and older rockers alike, through record and show reviews, and through my own need to get some shit off my chest, I hope to present an accurate account of what's happening in today's ever splintering punk scene.

Punk's not dead, its just older and needs longer naps these days.
Posted by: Mike Riley

Features (December 20th, 2007)