Punker than my wife and kid: a punk looks at 40, or, Season’s Greetings and a Happy New Year.

I never wore a black leather jacket. I never owned a pair of steel-toed boots. I never saw the Sex Pistols because I was one when they formed and barely out of diapers when they disbanded, but I’m punk enough to know that when they reunited after I graduated college that they were fucking rotten sellouts. By the same token or possibly I mean on the flipside, my first car was my mom’s Volvo station wagon. My parents are still married after almost fifty years and the only time I ever ran away from home I left a trail of tangerine peels so they could find me if they wanted, but it ended once I got around the block. I earnestly love Tom Jones’s music.


Then/Now. Top: Clean-cut Dirty 30s. Bottom: Haggard but Sporty 40s.

The list of ways in which I’m not punk outweighs any itemization of my punk rock credentials. Those include starting, writing, publishing, and distributing a punk rock zine as well as having several years of the Punk Rock Bowling Tournament in Vegas under my belt.

While my stage-diving days are disappearing in my life’s rear view mirror, I hope they’re still down the road and around the bend for my son who is about to turn three. My wife is counting down the hours til she joins me in our forties. She claims she was into punk during her adolescence, but I’m sorry, knowing some of the words to that one Suicidal Tendencies song and loving that one Social Distortion song doesn’t really qualify. This exclusionary way of thinking is, I realize, the intersection of the punk/hipster Venn diagram.

I used to wear a long-sleeve pink button-down shirt with pinstripes in elementary school, selected a pink paisley tie to go with my three-piece, pinstripe suit I wore for my Bar Mitzvah, and in my wardrobe of awesome patterned shirts, the solid pink one nearly garners the most comments. I mainly bring this up because my wife and I are sad to hear our son say, more than figuratively out-of-the-blue, that he doesn’t like the color pink. Only girls like pink. During his transition into toddlerhood while we lived in Amsterdam for the past year, he used to love the color. Gender stereotyping is a learned American behavior. We plan to show him to that boys liking pink is punk. I mean, it’s preppy, too, but for toddler boys, it’s clearly anti-establishment.

What does any of this have to do with anything? Nearing the end of the year I get reflexive. I usually write a year-in-review type thingy. But my goal is to spend very little time on Facebook during the last days of the year and more time in the flesh with friends and family not being distracted by my stupid-phone. But it’s a big one since, as mentioned, I’m now in my fourth decade. I’m older than Kobe Bryant who’s on Year-One of his two-year Senior Citizen’s farewell season.

Since I already put much of 2014 into the hindsight machine during a series of posts outlining the top 10 ways Amsterdam life differs from Portland life (or really how European culture varies from American), here’s the recap in chron order:

1: Bikes and English.

2: Insouciance. Aka: café culture.

3: Playgrounds and parents.

4: Dog citizens.

5: Urban vs. natural beauty.

6: Trains/public transportation.

7: Seasonal creep and spiciness.

8: Beer! (finally)

9: Stroopwafels.

9.5: Koffie/coffee.

10: Violence, mainstream media, and doom. Aka: why we never should’ve left Europe.

So that brings us up to date. I’m very happy that my book is finally done and out and being well-received. I’m also very happy that the bulk of my launch promo events are done and can stop haranguing people into coming out (though naturally I have more lined up for January in Portland, Hood River, and Corvallis so far with the whole state coming soon thereafter). But mostly, I’m very excited about what 2015 will hold. I’m excited for Izzy to start swimming and skiing lessons. I’m jazzed for the music fests we’ll attend wherever they may be but they WILL be. I’m pumped to find out if my forties will be better than my thirties since, honestly, they were better than my twenties. I hope Wifey continues loving her new job at her work. I hope Izzy stays a “goofball,” which he will if nature and nurture have anything to do with it. I hope to find myself in more exciting and beautiful places that I’ve never seen before like I did throughout 2014. (I already know to are on the list: Patagonia and Florida.) And I hope all you guys have a fucking awesome year ahead. Sorry, my punk roots still show sometimes.

So here’s to the newborns, the babies turning into toddlers, the new breweries, the old breweries, new friends, new tunes, new resolutions, and a Happy New Year.

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