Saturday, May 3, 2008

Punk Rock Dad (Jim Lindberg)

Lindberg and I are about the same age, but I missed out completely on the Punk movement. I’m sure it didn’t help that I grew up in a small town on the opposite end of the state (our musical influences were different), nor did my low social status with my peer group (the cooler people were such partly because they listened to the “right” music). I decided to review this for the Blogher virtual book tour anyway, because the notion of rebels raising the next generation was just too interesting to pass up. Also, the fact that it is written from a father’s point of view made for a very different sort of parenting book.

In general, this book was a great read. The author’s voice is articulate without being over-intellectual, he uses vivid examples from his own childhood to illustrate his points, and he even gives the reader a solid, concise history of American music. I’d recommend this to any Generation X-er, whether their life has directed them to “sell out” or not (at least, in regards to having kids, a mortgage, and life insurance). I’d considered registering this on BookCrossing for a wild release, but I’m rethinking that. I believe I will hang on to this for a while, and perhaps loan it out to friends before I let it find another home.

These were the most thought-provoking passages, or those that I found noteworthy enough to pull for further discussion:

“With overpopulation and the lack of good health care, it’s actually great that some people choose not to have kids, but for many of us, it can be the one thing that gives you a shot at true happiness in what can otherwise seem like a cold, forbidding world, and it may even help you begin to finally accept some of the responsibilities you’ve been actively rebelling against your whole life.”

“We wanted to find out in advance just so we’d know what color to paint the baby’s room and what kind of clothes to buy and also to save ourselves from any type of unexpected spontaneous response in the delivery room if we didn’t get what we were secretly hoping for. I didn’t want the kid to come out and have the first words it hears be, ‘Oh, crap!’”

“When I wrote songs about wanting to change the world, I meant it more than ever, because now there was a lot more than my own miserable future at stake, and that something needed its diaper changed regularly and food put on the table every day.”

“We older folk are the ones who repress the biological need to let out a good long wail every once in a while, which is why most of us turn to therapy or alcohol or become lead singers in punk bands so we can scream our lungs raw every night. We all need to bitch and complain about the world and our predicaments in it--babies just have a better way of vocalizing it.”

“When a guy is sitting around not saying anything, most women will have to ask them what they are thinking about. You should never tell them the truth: that your mind is a swirl of pornography, sports scores, food, and a constant running down of a list of people you’d like to punch in the mouth. They want you to say that you’re thinking about her and how wonderful she is, and that you were trying to come up with ways to make your relationship more romantic, and just wishing you two had more time to cuddle.”

“Punk rock, in all its nihilistic glory, somehow became the catalyst that helped close the generation gap, probably due to the fact that many of the people from our generation saw growing up and taking on responsibility as selling out and giving up, and have tried to hold on to their youthful looks that much longer.”

“Thumbing our noses at people in authority and derailing their power trips are how we take back some of the control for ourselves. Kids come with this impulse preinstalled, so it’s up to us to know how to handle it.”

“Respect for authority needs to earned. My kids will hopefully respect our authority as long as we set a good example and treat them like human beings instead of little cretins to be molded into whatever image we think they should be shaped into. They’e still going to test the boundaries daily, it’s in their genes. A parent becomes cool by considering their kids’ point of view and by remembering back to when we were little punks and how shitty it felt when no one gave a crap about our opinions. When you have to lay down the law, you do it by setting boundaries beforehand, explaining the reasons why things are the way they are, and then doling out consistent humane discipline so they can learn a lesson they won’t have to repeat a hundred times. If I can somehow manage this, maybe then they won’t one day write a song about what a terrible dad i was.”

This is a review of a complimentary copy of a book provided by Harper Collins. No other incentive has been made that would influence this writer’s opinion of the book.

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