Songs for a Fake Skater
I’ve got weird feelings about how kids find new music in 2017. “Discover Weekly” playlists and personalized internet radio stations will probably introduce you to a bunch of bands you might like, and that’s great, but something’s missing.
You see, I can remember the good old days when we got new music from organic sources like PlayStation games and our friends’ older brothers who swore that SR-71 was “gonna be fuckin’ huge, dude.” (Thankfully, those older brothers also turned us on to bands like Social Distortion and Rancid.)
Discovering pop punk led us to a weird aspirational fandom that sounds crazy when you’re over the age of 11. You see, every time I listened to an album like Enema of the State or Punk in Drublic, I was thinking about “growing up” to be one of those small town middle school punk kids. Yeah, Punk Bryn would wear mildly rude t-shirts and ride a sweet-ass bike with pegs through the streets, the wind whipping through his disturbingly crispy gelled hair.
What a dream…
But what if the dream never came true? Even though I “dressed the part” and “listened to the right bands,” was I destined be a small town middle school punk benchwarmer?
I’ll cut to the chase — I really wanted to be a skater, but didn’t know how.
So instead of just taking the time to learn from someone who did know, I came up with a brilliant Plan B- I was gonna start a band. After all, there’s no way all of the musicians featured on those Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater soundtracks were actually skateboarders, too. Right? No one could be that gifted.
So I went for the silver medal. If I couldn’t master the art of extreme sports, I’d do the second-most badass thing: learn to play trombone.
I racked my sixth grade brain for ways to sell my parents on the idea. It would help my math and science skills! My friends were having a great time in the school band! Basically anything but “I’d really like to be a punk, but I’m too dumb to skate, I don’t know how to draw those cool S-things on my notebooks, and I’m not really angry about anything yet.”
Eventually they caved. My mom took me to Effingham, where I rented a trombone (I guess they knew it wouldn’t last?) and started taking lessons from a man who was, amazingly, even less punk than I was.
He was a lanky, nerd-ass music student at the local university who didn’t have tattoos, wear checkered Vans, or ride a skateboard. For god’s sake, he never even told me to “Pickitup! Pickitup! Pickitup!” during a lesson. Where was my motivation?
After a few weeks of “Hot Cross Buns”, I was out. No one warned me that learning to be a punk would be this boring or involve grad students.
So I never learned how to skateboard or play anything by Reel Big Fish, but I did discover some bands that I can still listen to without switching Spotify to “Private Mode.” Not a bad consolation prize.
The author knows you can’t work in fast food all your life, but don’t sign that paper tonight.