Reverend Norb

column from MRR #170 - July 1997

Many of you young people who have spent time as a member of a, how you Americans say, "rock band" are well aware of the fact that certain actions on the part of Rock Performers at certain venues can lead to monies being withheld from the performers' previously-agreed-upon payment as a penalty for engaging in or inciting actions deemed injurious to the reputation and/or karma of the venue in question (this is most acute at college campii, although hick bars can be pretty good for it too). Fines as high as 100% of an evening's pay (or even higher in cases of alleged property damage) can be levied against performers for offenses such as cussing, intoxication, playing too short, playing too long, saying something which might carry a mathematical possibility that someone somewhere may disagree with it, playing at too high a volume, or just plain being a fuck. While the price of maintaining the sterling reputation of facilities generally designed to be little else than glorified playpens for ill-shorn, well-bred, forty-dollar-sweatshirt-and-a-pair-of-sandals-wearing buffoons is, indeed, eternal vigilance, little can alter the fact that, oft-times, the fines levied in the name of Rock Justice are blatantly arbitrary, and, in fact, are virtually never discussed in anything other than the vaguest possible terms prior to the performance. With the summer months and their attendant glut of shitty touring band activity almost upon us (case in point: my band will be leaving for our exciting annual tour next week [this year's big question: IS THERE or IS THERE NOT an "Ass Belt?" And, if so, is there a buffet?]), we at MaximumRockNRoll, your one-stop source for Binding Punk Rock Legislation since 1982, have decided that, in the interests of the forthrightness so dearly treasured by our Scene, a comprehensive list of the potential civil and/or criminal penalties which shall be levied by promoters against performers for violations of punk rock decorum in the 1997 Touring Season should be published forthwith. Unfortunately, since Tim won't let me write eighty-page columns anymore, you're gonna have to settle for this partial list, which is by no stretch of the imagination comprehensive ('course, given the fact that i'm writing it, you should be happy if it's merely comprehensible) ...thusly, direct from the Hall Of Justice, we bring you...


 INFRACTION:  Performing Screeching Weasel cover. FORFEITURE: $10 per offense, $50 if there are backing vocals involved.
 INFRACTION: Ending set with Screeching Weasel cover. FORFEITURE: 100% of pay.
 INFRACTION: Ending set with "Hey Suburbia." FORFEITURE: How much you got, kid?
 INFRACTION: Performing post-Wimpy-era Queers cover. FORFEITURE: $10, or 25% of evening's pay, whichever is greater (odds are real strong it's the $10).
 INFRACTION: Performing Queers cover off "Love Songs For The Retarded." FORFEITURE: $20 and two hours alone with your high school sophomore girlfriend.
 INFRACTION: Performing Queers cover off "Love Songs For The Retarded" if you are the Potatomen. FORFEITURE: Life imprisonment.
 INFRACTION: Performing Sonics cover. FORFEITURE: All your beer.
 INFRACTION: Performing Sonics cover "with attitude." FORFEITURE: And all your dope, too.
 INFRACTION: Informing audience that band has t-shirts and CDs for sale in circumstances when it is blatantly obvious that band has t-shirts and CDs for sale. FORFEITURE: Anyone who somehow managed to hack their way through the dense forest of humanity no doubt clustered around the band's merchandising stand to make a purchase prior to this announcement gets their money back. Everyone else gets whatever they want for free, although this is somewhat of an empty threat because, had people actually wanted their stupid shit, they wouldnt've needed to have been told where the merch was anyway.
 INFRACTION: Performing bad Descendents cover. FORFEITURE: $50 per minute. Bad Descendents covers under one minute in duration still free.
 INFRACTION: Performing multiple bad Descendents covers. FORFEITURE: Yeah, like this band is gonna get paid anything anyway!
 INFRACTION: Performing pre-"Yesterday Started Tomorrow" Angry Samoans cover. FORFEITURE: Children 14 and under -- free. All others, it's $1 per member per year over 14 years of age, except in cases where the band members are actually older than the Samoans themselves, then it's half-price.
 INFRACTION: Performing in front of any type of banner or backdrop which utilizes a skull as a prominent design element. FORFEITURE: Ah, fuck it. Tim Yo'll just take it out of your ass.
 INFRACTION: "Teenage Kicks." FORFEITURE: Band must pay each and every audience member $1 cash and apologize for wasting their time.
  INFRACTION: Band utilizes stage patter from KISS "Alive" album. FORFEITURE: $20 per minute.
 INFRACTION: Band utilizes stage patter from KISS"Alive II" album. FORFEITURE: $20 per second.
 INFRACTION: Band utilizes stage patter from introduction to "Cold Gin." FORFEITURE: Enter line 31 from federal Form 1040, line 16 of federal Form 1040A, or line 4 of federal Form 1040EZ.
 INFRACTION: Bad 80's cover (e.g., Bow Wow Wow, Adam & The Ants, J. Geils, Billy Idol, Culture Club, etc.) FORFEITURE: Sherman, set the Waybac controls for 1983, and bust the control panels when you've returned from stranding the idiots!
 INFRACTION: Band perpetuates recently-cultivated myth that running all one's songs together with few or no breaks between them ("like the Ramones, dude!") somehow excuses the performer from having to move around on stage or exhibit some type of personality or stage presence. FORFEITURE: I say we just all go on stage and start kicking these fuckers in the butt until they start moving. Goddammit, they can't ignore us all! I mean, what the fuck??? Do they REALLY think that they're the fucking RAMONES and we're just gonna stand there and watch them stand there and get BLOWN AWAY by their fucking unbridled genius just because they don't have any goddamn breaks between their songs, when their songs aren't even taxing to play in the first place? Hello? Earth to Captain Excitement! The rubes want more gruel, sir! (there are attempts to refute this complaint on the grounds that bands such as these generally only play for like 20 or 25 minutes or something, as if this is yet another brilliant achievement on their part. I dunno 'bout you, but i'd rather watch a fun band play for 45 minutes than a boring band play a 22-minute set any day. THE MATH IS THERE, PAL, THE MATH IS THERE!!!)
 INFRACTION: Guest vocalist. FORFEITURE: I dunno, is it Ryan Poortenga?
 INFRACTION: Performing Operation Ivy cover. FORFEITURE: Well, if they apologize afterwards, only like fifty bucks or something.
 INFRACTION: Whining about the monitors after set has commenced. FORFEITURE: First offense - no charge. Second offense $10. Fine doubles with each subsequent infraction.
 INFRACTION: Being the Horshacks. FORFEITURE: Being the Horshacks.
 INFRACTION: Audience member impersonating guitar player during "Kick Out The Jams." FORFEITURE: Uh, slap on the wrist?
 INFRACTION: Guitar player impersonating guitar player during "Kick Out The Jams." FORFEITURE: $100, which will be used to fund counter-revolutionary activities.
 INFRACTION: Hank Williams cover. FORFEITURE: Firing squad.
 INFRACTION: Reminding me of Social Distortion. FORFEITURE: Firing squad.
 INFRACTION: Reminding me of Social Distortion performing a Hank Williams cover. FORFEITURE: Genital mutilation, then firing squad.
 INFRACTION: Wedging butt of lit cigarette underneath strings near guitar's bridge during set. FORFEITURE: Come on, bands don't really do that anymore, do they???
 INFRACTION: Drum Machine. FORFEITURE: Band members must spend six hours bouncing nude on a trampoline with a similarly-unclad Bobby Steele.
 INFRACTION: Band plays songs which are apparently supposed to sound like the Ramones or something, but have a marked tendency to change chords at exactly two measure intervals (i mean, holy fuck, try this once if you're ever watching a pop-punk band and you can't figure out exactly why it is they're so goddamn boring other than the fact that they're just so goddamn boring: Tap your foot to the beat, and count how many beats they stay on each chord. In a ludicrously large amount of cases, you'll find that your counts go 8, 8, 8, 8...and this is TOTALLY FUCKING BORING. This is, i reckon, the longest you can hold chords in a chord progression with the chord progression still constituting the melody of the song [holding chords any longer than two measures {i.e., eight beats} shifts the guitar's duties from a melody-creatin' angle to a tension-building, non-melodic purpose. I think?]. You look at the Ramones [no, YOU look at the Ramones! I just ate!],they never wrote songs with chord changes every eight beats -- their chord progressions either changed a lot more quickly than once every two measures, or they hung on one chord for substantially longer than two measures [first two examples that come to mind are "Beat On The Brat" and "Judy Is A Punk"], then broke into a little tizzy of chord changes after proper Charles Atlas Dynamic Tension™ had been established. And yet, these DORKS who have more or less devoted their life to cluelessly ripping off the Ramones have never noticed this, and are generally hard-pressed to come up with a good reason why they're so goddamn boring. I always get the impression bands like these leave the stage muttering things like "Hmm, I THOUGHT I had the right kind of U.S. pin on the lapel of my black leather jacket! Maybe if I get a better one, we will be considered more exciting!"). FORFEITURE: A lifetime of opening up for bands who are much less talented and much less boring than they are.
 INFRACTION: Band takes three minutes to explain lyrics of a one-minute hardcore song. FORFEITURE: 10¢ per noun, 15¢ per verb, 50¢ per adjective, adverbs free because i like to encourage adverb usage, 5¢ for conjunctions and prepositions, and $50 for each occurrence of "support," "think" and "dude."
 INFRACTION: Band uses the phrase "punk rock show" in the lyrics of a song. FORFEITURE: ...sizzle...sizzle...sizzle...shift uncomfortably... sizzle...sniff... (hey, do you smell gunpowder?) ...sizzle... (pregnant pause for dramatic effect, not unlike those found on the "Disney's Sounds of the Thrilling, Chilling Haunted House" LP) ... sputter... fizzle... Pizzle... (total silence) ...  ...FUCKING DEATH!!! FUCKING MUTILATION!!! FUCKING TORTURE!!! FUCKING HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS!!! FUCKING HUMAN FUCK VIOLATIONS!!! STABBINGS!!! DISMEMBERMENTS!!! DISEMBOWELINGS!!! HIGH CROSS BODY BLOCKS!!! THE CLAW!!! THE IRISH WHIP!!! THE BELLY-TO-BELLY SUPLEX!!! THE BIONIC ELBOW!!! KNEEDROPS!!! RUSSIAN LEG SWEEPS!!! MANGLINGS!!! MAIMINGS!!! CIRCUMCISIONS!!! BEATINGS!!! HEADS HELD UNDER A SLIMY OAKEN MOP BUCKET FILLED WITH COLD 7-UP™ FOR LONG PERIODS OF TIME!!! PUMMELLINGS!!! STOMPINGS!!! BURNINGS AT THE STAKE!!! DEFENESTRATIONS!!! PISTOL WHIPPINGS!!! GANG RAPES!!!  VISITS FROM JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES!!! FREE RECONNECTION TO AT&T LONG DISTANCE SERVICE!!! SLAPPINGS, WHAPPINGS, POUNDINGS, DROWNINGS, SKEWERINGS, MANURINGS, LOBOTOMIES, TRACHEOTOMIES, LYNCHINGS, FLINCHINGS, ROMAN CANDLES UP THE ASS, FORCED  LARD CONSUMPTION, PAUL #2 FARTING ON YOUR FACE DURING 69 and 50% of the evening's pay. I fucking HATE that. I mean, i REALLY fucking hate it. I didn't realize i hated it so much until fairly recently, when i was standing at a, uh, punk rock show, i guess, mentally tabulating how much money i would be raking in if i could start levying and collecting fines from weak-tit punk bands, and this sort of traditionally dreary new-school pop-punk band, who shall go nameless, gets on stage, and i'm thinking god, this band is probably gonna sing about a "punk rock show" or some such dreck, and, lo and behold, the first words out of the singer's mouth involve some doggerel about a "punk rock show." Boy, no telegraph on that mighty punch! Regardless, i am so amused by things running so true to form that i go home and start writing a parody pop-punk song called "Blue Popsicle™," with the hopes of creating THE worst new-school pop-punk song ever. The words go like this: "i bought her a blue Popsicle™, whoa/then we went to the punk rock show/then i said 'way-uh-whuh-uh-oh-oh'" I never bother to finish the song, because i quickly come to the tragic conclusion that if i were to write a song such as this, no one would get the fact that it was intended as a parody. Score one for the dumbing-down of America! Regardless, i'm still not in a homicidal frenzy about the inclusion of the phrase "punk rock show" in contemporary punk lyrics at this point, on accounta it really doesn't seem like The Devil's Work yet, just some garden variety lameness (i trace this back to Screeching Weasel [as with many of the world's ills], and their song "Guest List." Look, kids, punk rock is sort of like a knock-knock joke. It sort of always works and works only once simultaneously. Orange you glad i didn't say banana?). But! Scant days later! I get an e-mail from one of my e-mail buddies, who shall also remain nameless (Timbo from Mutant Pop Records) (i know, i know, you're saying gosh dammit all, Rev. Nørb, your 50 free hours of AOL must have certainly been exhausted by this time! How do you justify your continued connection to the dweebazoidal cyber-nursery of AOL? My response: Like everyone else, i remain on-line because i think it'll help me get pussy), who is so excited about the great and wondrous lyrics on one of his forthcoming releases that he can't help but sharing one particularly savory couplet with me, to wit: "I wanna lick her Oreos/and take her to the PUNK ROCK SHOW" (last twelve capital letters mine). Like i occasionally say to the dispenser at Taco Bell™, this is the last fucking straw!  I mean, doofus kids using "punk rock show" in lyrics of (alleged) punk rock songs is one thing (further, i thought the Oreo remark was somewhat ill-formed; certainly no competition for real morons-cum-songsmiths like Noddy Holder and Jimmy Lea of Slade, whose "I wanted to suck your candy/I wanted to smell your barn" remains the high/low-water mark against which all else shall be judged). Real live grownups encouraging -- nay, praising -- them for same is A FUCKING STATE OF AFFAIRS SO SORRY AND SORDID THAT ITS SORRINESS AND SORDIDNESS VERITABLY BUGGERS PRESCRIPTION!!! This ain't no silly black-leather-jacket-vs.-white-leather-jacket quasi-comic squabble, THIS IS A PUNK ROCK STATE OF SEIGE!!! This is Sugar-Frosted Leukemia!!!  CANDY-COATED ANEURYSMS!!! PRE-SWEETENED BRAIN TUMORS!!! By what fucking right, by whose divine leave, by what giddy, mal-calculated brain fart do these people get off fucking trivializing MY culture??? By whose fucking authority are these crimes committed??? By golly, as a card-carrying white, hetero, geek-ass American male, my opportunities for embracing any sorta valid cultural heritage are, like, slim-verging-on-skeletal. Okay, sure, we got the Beats (shockingly out-of-place Go-Go's pun!), we got the Abstract Expressionists, we got Walt Whitman, we got Dr. Seuss, we got the neutron bomb and the Brady Bunch, blah blah blah, but what do we have that isn't either a) completely disposable consumer culture or b) totally confined to some specific time period in the past??? Not much, Dutch. I mean, you don't gotta start fitting me for a septum ring or anything, but hey, sad as this may sound, punk rock is pretty much the closest thing to any kind of quasi-valid culture (i.e., above and beyond Nick at Nite and Rubik's Cubes and NFL highlight videos) a lot of people have, or ever will have, myself included. Tim's defense that "Punk Rock Show = Burger King" -- i.e., "punk rock show" equals a cute, generic location to insert in an "Oh Oh I Love Her So" type song -- was like fighting a forest fire with a hydrogen bomb. "Punk Rock Show = Burger King?!"   Jeezus fuck, think about it! ("punk rock show = Burger King" in a cynical sense would be okay; this is not the case here) To see ye olde Punk Rock Show dragged down to the level of adolescent puerility heretofore reserved for the Malt Shoppe and the Sock Hop Ball and the local equivalent of Inspiration Point ("Lover's Hill" according to the gospel of "Flea Brain" by Gene Vincent , but "Lookout Hill" in "Weekend" by Eddie Cochran, the sellout) really burns my Rice-A-Roni™ because, by golly, maybe the plethora of punk rock in recent years has all but eroded this from the collective consciousness of punkdom, but, goddammit, at one point in time, the punk rock show was sacred. All week -- or, often more aptly, all month -- you'd be essentially rejected by more or less everyone you came in contact with, just because of the music you liked. The kids at school thought you sucked, the people on the bus thought you sucked, the people at McDonald's thought you sucked and your parents thought you were on drugs, just because you didn't own any Billy Squier albums or some god damn thing. But then! The punk rock show! You'd go there, and it was like somebody flipped a negative sign in front of quantity the rest of the world -- instead of automatic exclusion, there was automatic inclusion.You know, "100 Punks Rule" and all that hokey shit. A punk rock show was no more a we-both-kicked-off-our-shoes-oh-i-dig-those-rhythm-and-blues lame teen dance than a bunch of Native Americans shakin' their groove tushies to the BeeGees at a disco constitutes a pow-wow (and have you ever been to a pow-wow where the drummers and chanters do a song with lyrics about "going to the pow-wow?" A HA! Case closed!). As of 11:00 PM CDT 5.15.97, any band who uses the phrase "punk rock show" in their lyrics sucks totally, and will be tried for contempt on the grounds of trivializing my culture (Goddammit! I'm pissed about this! One's culture can be defaced, embraced, disgraced, replaced, spat on, shat on, rejected, infected, denounced, renounced, decried, defied, defiled, lampooned, harpooned, festooned and aquamarooned [i made that word up], but -- god DAMN it! -- it should never be trivialized, especially not in some woeful, piss-ass attempt to pass oneself off as a cute and/or clever lyricist). "Rock and roll show" is still quite acceptable, however (oh, fuck!!! I just remembered that the first line in "She Said Yeah" by the Rip Offs is "met her at a punk rock show!" Oh well, never mind then i guess) (and, of course, there's "My World" by the Descendents, but i think "punk rock show" is a-ok in this context because the song is about how various institutions [incl. punk rock shows] are failing to fulfill the protagonist's needs, which seems like it falls under the "fair use" clause) (actually, my rule can still stand, it just needs a grandfather clause or something -- as in "anyone who's old enough to be my grandfather, like Jon Von, can use 'punk rock show' at will." Haw haw).
 INFRACTION: Stupid dancing, annoying DJ voice, bad jokes, white leather jacket, antlers. FORFEITURE: Violator must perform four hours of volunteer cunnilingus work with troubled teens in van after show.
Remit all fines collected to: Keeper Of The Fines, Box 1173, Green Bay WI 54305. Make money orders out to "CASH.

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