No Future!

The Life and Death of a Punk Poet

Fly had organized everyone to go to the precinct and file reports. They did, but nothing happened.

Punk is the first youth culture to last more than 20 years. Frank's look comes right out of the late '70s. Maybe this is the real rebellion and true anticapitalism: the refusal to invent a whole new style.

Fly speculates that punk is still here because "it's action-packed and spectacular," perfect for the TV generation. It was family for dysfunctional kids. And it was fun.

At the tribute to Frank's Depression, the songs without music became rants, little capsules of the culture of opposition as it's lived now, Loisaida style. Vocalists from bands like The Dreggs and White Collar Crime offered current variations on the eternal verities of youth: oppose the fascist pigs and hate the rich.

But it didn't sound all that "fun." Fly did some songs from her other band, her punk band, Zero Content, in the standard machine-gun delivery: "1-2-3-4 Piss! Piss! Piss! Pissbucket! Shit! [pause] I spilled it but it doesn't matter because it's frozen solid anyway." This, she explained, was "a true story about squatting." Then, among others, "1-2-3-4! Heat the rich! Burn them! Burn them! Heat the rich!"

Fly lives in a squat because she likes the do-it-yourself lifestyle, which in her case meant building an apartment almost from scratch—not just new floorboards but new support beams, windows, and walls. For two years previously, she'd lived at Gargoyle Mechanique, a now defunct performance space on Avenue B, where she had a place to sleep with a shelf for her belongings.

Fly says that she and Frank disagreed about squatting, that he was "more transient, more flippant." Where he might catch a night's sleep on a hunk of cardboard in some abandoned building, she had spent money and sweat to homestead a place. That makes for a hard, stressful life, but it's forward-looking. For Frank, there was no future.

This is a story about life on the permanent margin. Some thrive there, while others self-destruct. Of course, to the rest of the world, the tattooed, the leathered, and the spiked are all the same—and all despised.

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