Minor Threat, Minor Threat, 1981
Ah, vacation. As I type these lines, I am on the annual family pilgrimage to the beach for the eighth straight year. I never thought I’d be the type of person to do the same vacation over and over, but it has become a beloved, relaxing moment in that I count on. It brings me unspeakable equilibrium and relaxation. It's a 128 hour exhalation.
Just like Minor Threat.
Well, no— Minor Threat does not relax me. Minor Threat is like an adrenaline shot to the heart, Uma Thurman-style in Pulp Fiction.
I love this band. They remind me of home, of my teenage punk self, of the leftist righteousness that still exists in the world (I hope). So why am I writing about them on my Jimmy Buffett / Pablo Cruise / Seals and Crofts vacation?
Blame the Phoenix airport.
In order to get to the beach, the family and I have to travel on Southwest through the Phoenix airport. And EVERY YEAR, something goes wrong in the Phoenix airport. How do people who live in Phoenix ever leave town? For that matter, how do people survive Phoenix? It was 114 degrees while we endured our four hour delay. Couple that with a confused, hot, sad toddler, and the blog gal and I walked, non-stop, for three and a half hours, up and down every corridor of the airport. I think we did a 10k:
So, needless to say, we did a lot of people watching, which is always revealing to the current American experience. Pushing a baby stroller makes you invisible to the general populace, so I was able to stare with impunity at everyone else while they looked through me. All undercover journalists and secret agents should push baby strollers.
The only guy who made the effort to look back is the inspiration for today’s tune. He came around a corner, saw the stroller, looked up, and gave me the once over. It was clear that I represented everything he loathed in society: a dad, a middle-aged loser, a sellout, with hair that may or may not reveal tendencies towards Phish and backpacking. He had those big junior-mint earrings that are going to look really weird when he’s 60, a nose ring, a serious hate-glare, an angry little backpack filled, no doubt, with anarchy pamphlets and rescued animals from a testing lab…
and a Minor Threat t-shirt.
If he hadn’t been moving so quickly, I was prepared to ruin his day completely. “Hey! I love Minor Threat! I actually grew up right down the street from them! I saw Fugazi seven times. Do you have the Egg Hunt 7” that Ian and Jeff did in 1986? You should totally get it— great stuff.” Instead, I let him have his moment, and pushed little Bee to a Peet’s, where I got my coffee and shuffled off to Dadtown.
But here’s the thing— guys like him are SUPPOSED to glare at guys like me. That’s the idea. I’m on my way to a BEACH VACATION— I am definitely part of the problem to a guy like that, just as guys like me were part of the problem when I was that kid. In fact, I had a Minor Threat t-shirt too. But Minor Threat is MY AGE. They are MY generation’s angry band. They are DAD ROCK. I play Minor Threat in the car all the time. My son has a few Minor Threat tunes on his iPod.
For the uninitiated, “Filler” is the perfect crystallization of the band’s talent and message. It’s 93 perfect seconds of music. It deserves a t-shirt and a rabid fan base. They were a great, great band. I'll leave it at that-- millions of words have extolled these guys before me. The key word, though, is WERE— they broke up at least ten years before this guy was born.
And that’s my question— where is this generation’s angry, political band? Where is the music that has something to say enough to inspire people to wear t-shirts? This song came out 34 years ago!!! And it’s not like we’ve solved the world’s problems. Can anyone out there name a modern band with real principles, a clear political message, and the guts and musical power to back them up? If so, can you please tell us in the comments below who they are and start handing out their t-shirts to young people? Because I refuse to be stared down like that again by some kid who’s raided my closet.