Slingshots, Anyone? : The First Column

Sometimes I’m awful disappointed by the so-called punk scene in New Orleans. Yes, I know—you have no idea what I’m talking about. You’re thinking to yourself, “Jaded? With punk rock?! Absurd!” A few of you may even be asking yourselves, “There’s a punk scene in New Orleans?!” Well, shocking as it may seem to some of you idealistic or uninformed readers, between the rampant alcoholism, low turnout at shows and nomadic crusties who—drawn like flies to shit—saturate the city like spilled malt liquor, I can better understand the origin of my “fascist leanings.” For sometimes I do, dear readers, wish to institute a campaign to “purify” New Orleans of the lower order of humanity known as the “crust punk”—photocopy some new Crew Change Guides sending them aboard train cars deporting them directly to the “showers” of my own personal Treblinka. Most of the time I can set aside such petty grievances with this town and retain my youthful confidence in the worthiness of “the scene,” but every now and again something forces me to reevaluate why I am here.

For example, someone like Chuck “Scumfuck.”

The event was the first annual Gulf Coast Hardcore Fest at The Dragon’s Den, where Candice and I spent the entire day tabling an assortment of radical literature courtesy of the Iron Rail Book Collective. Seriously, tabling punk shows is a full-time job for me. It’s a labor of love. I’m like the father on Christmas morning watching my bright, young child beam as she unwraps her brand new Slingshot! Well, not exactly…

The Fest, we soon figured out, could stand to be a bit more…subversive. Early in the day a few of the jocks in a certain band had thrown around the words “bitch” and “pussy.” Heck, maybe I am “too PC.” When they took the stage hours later, they began one of their songs—in a spirit that could bring a tear to any football coach’s eye—with a chant of “Cock-suckin’ motherfucker!” Then they threw out condoms to the (predominantly male) crowd and remarked “They all got holes.” Candice and I just shook our heads and booed from the back of the room. Partly combating boredom as much as injustice after spending almost six consecutive hours in the same crowded room.

To the credit of the promoter Seth and the rest of the otherwise semi-intelligent folks, I must say there were some redeeming moments. Reclaim Life, a local, up-and- coming hardcore band, brought the ’90s mosh excellence. Four-fifths of the members of this band at some point worked in the bakery department at the Uptown Whole Foods, giving their group the nickname among some as “The Baker’s Guild.” Thank them for all those vegan cinnamon rolls and chocolate chip cookies in the baked goods section. As an added bonus, their singer Scott happens to be a karate black belt! And whether churning out fresh pastries, ill tracks or droppin’ bows here or there, they are all around solid people. A band from Mississippi called Mordechai delivered a really impressive performance of melodic screamo coupled with quieter moments of violin/ glockenspiel ballads. Those two sets alone made the whole day worth it. Plus some people bought records from us.

But as the night stretched on it become more and more of a brodeo. A real Brohemian Rhapsody, so to speak. The testosterone level peaked at around 10pm and—after a full nine hours—Candice and I decided to call it a day. Between tabling the night before at The White Bitch show and the Fest, we’d made about $140 total. Gosh, if only we could do half this well at all the other events we table—I might not have to cry myself to sleep every night in the stifling, mosquito-infested sewer of a city I call home. Seth did a last call over the mic for anyone else interested. No takers— save for one.

As we packed up, one of the members of the sleazy shock-rock group The AIDS Patients (very considerate name), who hadn’t yet played, walked up to us. The aptly named Chuck Scumfuck. Loaded out of his mind, commenced harassing us.

“Fuck you guys! You aren’t gonna stick around for the best bands!” he yelled.

Dignifying his inebriated egotism, we tried to explain how we’d been hanging out all day long and were tired, but in his irrational state he wouldn’t have it. He jumped on the stage, where his bandmates were setting up, and began hollering out how we were “pussies” over the mic. Candice and I exchanged hostile words with him from across the room as we packed up the last of our books.

He countered by announcing, still over the mic: “Ohhh, I just got called a poseur by a midget! Get the fuck out!!!”

We hauled all the books and records back to the Iron Rail, spirits slightly dampened that we’d spent all our waking hours at this event helping an anarchist collective and here was the thanks we got. But this job, like any, comes with its fair share of hardship. Shitty bands. Apathetic show goers. The one episode where a beefy guy ripped a pamphlet to shreds before my eyes. But verbal and physical assault?! Call it an “occupational hazard.” After we dropped the box off and reshelved, we realized we’d forgotten Bryan Funck’s staple gun and Candice’s bag at the venue. When we returned to retrieve them (a good fifteen or so minutes later at least), the band’s front man was still spewing verbal flatulence of his drunken idiocy. I couldn’t believe people could still be captivated by such a spectacle. I guess I expected more from the Varsity Lettermen in attendance. He soon spotted us and resumed hollering slurs at us over the mic. I nudged Candice, my partner in crime. “We should applaud him on the way out,” I whispered conspiratorially. If he tried anything funny, I figured, I would retaliate on behalf of the real NOLA Underground with the same stapler used to cover the streets with many a punk poster! But as it turned out, I started something I couldn’t finish.

So we sauntered right on past the stage cheering and clapping! Scumfuck stared in our direction for a moment and then—realization dawning on him—lunged off the stage after us! Yikes! At that point I intended to, you know, exit as quickly as possible; however one of the Shaquille Bro’Neals in the aforementioned bands stood right in front of me and blocked me on either side like we were in the middle of a game of b-ball—all while AIDS hurtled toward me from the rear! I guess it serves me right, the hubris of one frail PC “midget” rewarded with a beat down by a violent wastoid. In his stupor—which, considering the state of his motor-skill degeneration, is almost commendable—Scumfuck aimed a kick to my derriere, hurtling me forward. I turned around to find the brave Candice—worked up to tears—in the dude’s face as a few held him (and her) back! Gosh, where is the Reclaim Life karate-pastry posse when I need them?! We just got out of there fast. I heard later that following our departure, after AIDS Patients actually began playing, Scumfuck got completely naked and proceeded to shove a beer bottle up his own ass, cutting himself and bleeding in the process. No, I’m not making this up. One audience member—infamously known by his graffiti tagger alter-ego “Snake”—later described the fiasco to me: “Watching him was like watching a child play with his own shit.” Hmm…Interesting…

All in a day’s work…I actually savor the challenge of a belligerent drunk punk or the conservative meathead. Because when it comes down to it, I can honestly say I love my “job.” I go to shows I planned on attending anyway (most often for free), and it forces me out of my socially awkward shell. But more importantly, it provides a platform to spread my ideological propaganda to the impressionable masses, so that gradually I may come one step closer in my diabolical scheme to exert ever-greater control over the New Orleans punk scene—by which I may lead my subjects as dictator into an eventual, blissful state of clean-cut anarchy! Mwhahahaha! Just try and stop me!