Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Replacing Cigarette Butts With Baby Carrots, or My Drunk Neighbors, Part Two

My neighbors are drunk again. I know, big deal, right? Anyways, this party started sometime late on Mother’s Day and ended on Tuesday. Yeah, I said Tuesday.
This is New Orleans, y’all.

So, you’re probably wondering whether I judged my drunk neighbors as I groggily walked my dogs past them at 8am. This answer is yes…kind of…and it’s complicated.

I actually didn’t judge them on Monday. On Monday, I wondered whether they knew someone who had been shot in the second line on Mother’s Day. I felt sorry for them, which is like a stepping stone to feeling compassion, only totally not the same thing at all. I noted the difference between sympathy and compassion, and sent them prayers as I scooped up my dog’s poop.

So, yeah, I’m basically Enlightened.

On Tuesday, though, guess what? I judged them. I stopped myself pretty quickly, though. I stopped myself by instead actively wondering what kind of drugs they were on. Molly? Coke? Adderall? Crystal meth seems unlikely but possible? Does anyone do crack anymore? I really don’t know.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Lay Back, It's All Been Done Before

A couple of years ago I was charged with the task of minding my friend's Avril Lavigne fan blog while she was on vacation. It was a paying gig for both of us, not a product of our passions. We were hired to track then current news and gossip. So, for a few weeks I knew a lot about Avril Lavigne.

Please forgive me. I needed to pay the rent.

Does it go without saying that I have never been a fan? Her pink-pop-punk gives me cavities. But I always want to be a fair writer, so I did a lot of research about her. Frankly, I wanted to find something about her that redeemed her in my eyes. Instead I found a (not very flattering) interview in which she was asked to name a song by the Sex Pistols and couldn't, but then claimed to be "Sid Vicious for a new generation."

Later she would respond to criticisms about her lack of knowledge about punk history by saying:
People are like, 'Well, she doesn't know the Sex Pistols.' Why would I know that stuff? Look how young I am. That stuff's old, right?
I feel like I don't actually need to draw out the nuances of why it's not okay to proclaim yourself a member of (sub)cultures that you don't actually know anything about. Right? You don't get to be the next Sid Vicious if you don't know who the first one was.

This is Sid Vicious. He couldn't actually play any instruments and he couldn't actually sing and he is arguably the most famous punk icon. Why? Because he got on stage and made a band and played the shows and didn't give a fuck about what he was supposed to be or do. Am I saying this DIY attitude is what Avril Lavigne is expressing when she says she doesn't need to know about punk (even know she is one)?

Absolutely not.

Sid Vicious was probably a dick, but he wasn't a shiny pink product. He wasn't trying to sell punk. One of the dominant ideas behind punk is that you can't buy it and you can't sell it. You have to embody it.

So, there's a couple of ideas I want to tease out about this. The first one is that, as a yoga culture, a lot of the time we act like a big crowd of Avril Lavignes. We call ourselves yogis, but we don't know where the tradition came from. We say namaste, but we don't really know what it means. And sometimes we get scared to ask questions because it seems like everyone else already knows.