Crass Aztec Camera

Punk or New Wave?

There was a time when proclaiming what type of music we listened too was important or necessary even. It was like choosing a team. In the early 1980s at Nancy’s Records in a small town in California’s Gold Country, a teenage girl said to her friend, “I can’t decide if I should go punk or new wave.” It was clear that it was a decision that had to be made. No choice but to choose. One April day in 1982 or 3, a Hero walked by what was affectionately known as Aggie Hill. It was known as Aggie hill because the high school cowboy kids hung out there. As the Hero passed by, the words, “Punk rocker,” and a handful of pyracantha berries were thrown at him. The words were an accusation. The berries were tiny, soft, red bullets thrown from the young cowboy’s loaded hand.

Is it just us, or is bicycle culture the new “punk v new wave?” Are high school kids faced with the decision to ride a fixed gear or a road bike? A mountain bike or a vintage three speed? Back in the 1980s, when a kid was asked what kind of music he liked the answer was often, “I like all kinds of music – except rap and country.” Do kids these days say, “I like all kinds of bikes – except cruisers and recumbents?”

We might do well to make up our minds and decide. It is expensive to like all kinds of bikes because the word “like” is all too often replaced with “need.” Same thing happened in the 1980s with records: we needed them.