I read about a woman who used to be a punk rocker and now is a 44 year old mother. Boy, did I identify with that article, especially when I listen to the kid playing her music, which is music I used to listen to when I was younger. Admittedly, she has some rather eclectic tastes, but my point still stands, as evidenced by her desire to copy my Sahara Soundtrack, which contains classic rock from my high school days. The comments on the article are great. One specifically says that old punk rockers are the new old hippies. …Not that I was ever a punk rocker.

I listened to more New Wave than punk, but the point still applies to me and my 20 year old Doc Martens. Oh, and they’re apparently up and running again after going out of business. Actually, now that I’m reading Wikipedia about it, DrMarten didn’t go out of business, it outsourced. The irony of this outsourcing is just depressing. In the history section of the Doc Marten’s homepage, there is a screed about branding, which I have excerpted below:

The late 1960s and 1970s saw the boot adopted by – not thrust upon – nearly all the tribes’: Mods, glam, punks, ska, psychobillies, grebos, Goths, industrialists, nu-metal, hardcore, straight-edge, grunge, Britpop …

Then pop started to eat itself.

The internet spread like an epidemic, reaching fifty million users in eighteen months – a feat that took radio forty years. The first mobile phone text was sent in 1992; within three years, email was like oxygen.
Everything had changed.
There were no tribes anymore. At least, “not like they used to make ’em.”
You don’t see one tribe fighting another anymore, a haircut does not define a person to four albums by three bands.
The tribe is down to one person.
A one-man army.
The personal revolution manifests itself in a million ways. So-called ‘indie’ and ‘punk’ record labels of the 1970s and 1980s were created to cut out the suits. They were called ‘labels’ because of the round adhesive label smack bang in the middle of the
vinyl.Vinyl?CDs?Now, you don’t even need a label.Record, mix, master and post on the web from your own empire. Hit the charts from downloads alone.
There is no one left to cut out. It’s all down to you.
Of course, just because we can all now ‘create’, doesn’t mean we are all actually any good. But the cream floats to the top, whatever the mode of transport.
Same with Dr. Martens.
Decades have come and gone, brands have exploded and then imploded, but the 1460 is still there, unique, individual, original. Anti-fashion defined in eight holes. What’s seen as information overload to the older generation is just everyday surfing to the new generation. In one weekend edition of The New York
Times, there is more information than a seventeenth century man was exposed to in his entire life. Dr. Martens haven’t been around since the 1600s, but in terms of ‘brands’ that mean something, that last, that reinvent and evolve, they pre-date pretty much everything.

By the mid-1990s, Dr. Martens had festered in the minds of youth without a single penny of ‘marketing spend’, longer than the majority of global brands had even existed. There is no comparison. This is not a brand, it is a way of thinking, a mode of expression. The problem with ‘brands’ is that they dictate. They might offer the must-have item of the season, but they design it, shape it, form it and sell it. You have no say, other than handing over your money. Look at the word: ‘brand’. That’s what they do to cattle.


So, Doc Marten’s brands itself in its rant about branding. How very postmodern.

Anyway, back to the new old hippies. One of the comments on Mom was a Punkrocker explains the way that punk rockers are the new old hippies. Here is an excerpt:

Old Punks are the new Old Hippies. Think about it:

OLD HIPPIE:Things weren’t as cool as they were in the late ’60s.
OLD PUNK:Things weren’t as cool as they were in the late ’70s/early ’80s.

OLD HIPPIE:Wears tye dye and jeans as if they are still underground.
OLD PUNK:Wears leather jackets and jeans as if they are still underground.

OLD HIPPIE:Clings on to the same few artists as gods (Hendrix, etc), and insists that their music is the best artform.
OLD PUNK:Clings on to the same few artists as gods (Ramones, etc), and insists that their music is the best artform.

OLD HIPPIE:Despite being middle-aged, they insist that they still have their finger on the pulse of the new youth culture.
OLD PUNK:Despite being middle-aged, they insist that they still have their finger on the pulse of the new youth culture.

Punk no longer means anything remotely transgressive. Being a punk just means you’re an aging geezer who’s about as offensive and nihilistic as an old granny with a grocery cart. Most punks still grow up and have kids and get married and move to the suburbs just like every other meat-and-potato-eating American-flag-worshipping “normal” person. The only difference between punks and soccer moms are their music tastes, their fashion choices, and their choice of soy versus real milk. Underneath the dye and leather, they’re all the same. Punks=suburbia. (Pun intended)

I think I need my eye cream.


  1. But it’s not true! I’m not an old punk; I was never a young punk. But: in Minneapolis we have a punk record store called Extreme Noise, which carries all kinds of new music and has customers of all ages. And it’s a cooperative to boot, run by volunteers. Punk as a subculture is alive and well (at least in the Midwest.)


  2. every major city has a store like this, or several. it’s envogue. maybe the midwest is just late on everything.

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