It’s been far too long since I posted about my favorite subculture birthed from the 1980’s. What’s new with me and straight-edge? A couple of things. Ever since I’ve been straight edge, I’ve always been so confused about one thing. It’s the inane positive mindset that some of these people hold. I’ve read a few posts from straight edge groups here and there and it’s all this positive living garbage. It seemed almost as if straight edge was either full of people who completely accepted drinking and alcohol as a part of life and just didn’t wish to partake or violent gang members who will beat you to a pulp if he even smells smoke on you. I never encountered the latter online but everyone spoke about them.
I’m not the former for reasons I have explained before and I’m not the latter because beating people up isn’t my kind of thing. The pen (or the keyboard) is mightier than sword. Most of the posts I read were about guys who spoke about being designated drivers and taking care of their drunk friends. I couldn’t get into this at all. I couldn’t find a voice similar to mine. A dislike of drugs and alcohol not only for themselves but for others as well without a need to beat people’s heads in.
So I bought a book and I read it. The book was called Sober Living for the Revolution: Hardcore Punk, Straight Edge And Radical Politics. The book looked back at the history of straight edge. It had interviews and documents by band members, political activists, and other people who were all straight edge. It asked them each to define it for themselves. Thankfully I found that I was not alone in the way I felt. The book gives many different perspectives from across the world on straight edge and how it’s used by people for political agenda.
I really like reading about this subculture with a loose set of rules just evolving as it set across the planet. It meant different things to different people. Some saw it as anti-corporatism. In some places it thrived, in others it didn’t. Women had a different view of straight edge due to the way the hardcore scene treated women.
I fully recommend the book to anyone trying to understand the straight edge subculture. I don’t read books much these days, and I felt like I didn’t waste my time getting through this.
I really like how the originator of the idea just has no control over how people interpret what he’s said. Some people don’t even care what he thinks about it and they use this idea of sober living for their own end. There’s this one really good paragraph from a zine included in the book I absolutely love.
“Seriously, one of the reasons why living in a community that drinks constantly bugs me is that it makes conversation so damn boring! I can barely hang out in a large group without a conversation turning for a substantial period of time to drinking, getting fucked up, what so and so did when they were fucked up, how fucked so and so’s going to get , blah blah blah, Who fucking cares? Are people really so boring most of the time that they don’t merit conversation without corporate-induced altered consciousness? Can we really not think of anything interesting to talk about other than our self destructiveness? What about our dreams, our passions, our crazy ideas and schemes, our hopes and fears? I hate going to parties where intoxication numbs individuality into mush, so that I can have the same mindless banter with 100 people but not a conversation of any substance with a single person. Am I anti-social for staying home with one good friend or a book when that’s the alternative?”
Here’s a link to the rest of that section if you desire to read more. http://www.archive.org/details/TowardsALessFuckedUpWorldZine