Saturday, May 8, 2004

Joey is a punk
I wish I could link to the full text of Liisa Ladouceur's piece in the latest This Magazine, but unfortunately it doesn't seem to be online. It deals, quite nicely at that, with "grown-up" punks and goths — and how one reconciles age and youthful rebellion, with special attention paid to DOA's Joe Keithley, aka Canadian punk legend Joey Shithead.

A few excerpts (any spelling mistakes are mine):

Joey is a punk. His hair is bleached white-blond and styled to spiky points. He wears a black leather jacket and ripped jeans; his wrists are ringed with leather cuffs... Joey is not unlike hundreds of thousands of kids who listen to punk and wear its signature look. Except this Joey is 47 years old...

...He's been called the godfather of punk, but his longevity makes Keithley a poster boy for all grown-ups who identify themselves with adolsecent-oriented subcultures, who refuse to abandon the ideals — and hairstyles — of their youth.

"I believe in what I do," explains Keithley, on a visit to Toronto for Canadian Music Week. "This is how I make a living and support my family, which is the number one thing in my life. But music is just part of it. When I started out, I wanted to change the world. I still do. That's why I haven't stopped."

... While copying older punks is a rite of passage for the young rebels, 50-year-old punks adopting new teen looks seems, well, slightly sad. And now that the first generation of punks is about to hit retirement age, you just know it's going to happen. Keithley says he won't be one of those guys, but just because he's giving up the look doesn't mean he plans to give up the lifestyle.

"People who are middle-aged like I am should not go around pretending they are teenagers," he says. "Lots of my friends are caught in a time warp of punk rock. But blind faith in anything, that's crazy. I'm way too old for that. To get along in this life you have to adapt. That's the prime reason humankind is at the top of the food chain. Still, I believe in my art, in music. When I get up there and play, I still get a similar charge I got when I was a teenager. I still want to drive the audience nuts and make them think. I may not always be in a punk band or dress like this, but I will always be an activist"...

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