Written by Al Drinkle
If you can’t drink in the parking lot of a punk show, where are you supposed to drink these days?
Last night the Mantis and I went to see our colleague and friend Sticky’s band play at a venue which I have chosen not to disclose here. Upon entrance, the bouncer asked if he could look through our backpacks to which we each replied, “sure, but you’re going to find wine in there.” There’s always wine in our backpacks! He informed us that we weren’t allowed to bring alcohol into the venue which in no way surprised us and we politely queried him as to our alternatives. He offered to temporarily relieve us of our effects and requested that we call upon his services when we needed them back.
Following the performance of the first band, we asked our bouncer friend for our belongings to which he inquired as to whether or not he would have the distinct pleasure of welcoming us back into the venue later that evening. Upon hearing our positive response, he informed us that in that case he would be depriving us of our backpacks until such a time that we chose to permanently quit the venue. Upon further questioning, he said that he was concerned about the potential that we would be consuming our alcohol off-site which, to me, is as obtuse as concerning himself about the alcohol that we might have imbibed prior to choosing to attend the show in the first place. He remained obstinate in his asinine stance until I frustratedly announced that he could consider my departure to be permanent and thus, it would be appreciated if he would return my backpack to me. The Mantis, intuitive man that he is, declined the offer of his own backpack, announcing that he would return to see the second act, namely Sticky’s rock ‘n’ roll group.
In the parking lot whilst enjoying the bottle of Riesling that had been liberated from my bag, the Mantis inquired as to my plans to re-entering the venue. Just then, Sticky’s drummer came outside to retrieve something from his vehicle and I asked if he would be so kind as to trust me with his car keys. I ditched my backpack and jacket in his car and put on my under-helmet riding toque (if you’re American, you might know this garment as a “beanie”). Content with my disguise, the Mantis and I decided to split up and once I beamingly, with enthusiastic eye-contact, presented my admission stamp to the same bouncer and regained entrance into the abysmal venue, I texted the Mantis to let him know that I was in. After a few songs during which I noticed an alarming paucity of his spindly, vertical form (his nickname is well-earned), I checked my phone and learned that he had been barred from the premises.
Why was the Mantis prevented from re-entry? Why indeed! In light of my rapport with the bouncer, I inquired as to the same and he claimed that it was because I snuck in after previously claiming that my departure was permanent. I pointed out that he authorized my re-entry himself and had obviously only realized his mistake at that precise moment - and more importantly, that none of it had anything to do with the Mantis whatsoever. He then suggested that he had reason to believe that we were drinking in the parking lot (clever fellow, we underestimated him), to which I pointed out that he remained the uninterrupted custodian of the Mantis’ bag and therefore my acquaintance was abiding every fatuous guideline set forth by the house. I further suggested, certainly not to our advantage but in the name of rationality if nothing else, that had we been imbibing in the parking lot, amidst countless other attendees who engaged in such activities as the inhaling of “jazz cigarettes” and even the dissemination of unknown substances into their arms by way of syringe, in no way was our purported sipping a circumvention of their liquor sales. We paid a handsome cover charge, but regardless of how many or how few bottles we consumed within the general but arbitrary circumference of the despicable venue, we had no intention of consuming their offerings of industrially-produced beverages and that his suspicions, true as they might be, were wholly irrelevant. I additionally advocated that his time would be better spent spoiling the pursuits of cocaine-sniffing clowns in the bathroom who were undoubtedly taking drugs within those very walls at the exact moment of our senseless conversation instead of hypothesizing about the legal products that he presumed we might have been consuming in an area that concerned him in no way.
Confusingly, my irritated interlocutor’s response was both racist and homophobic, perfunctorily I would presume, since despite not having chosen my own ethnicity or sexual preference, I find myself in the mainstream in both cases which is contrary to virtually every other facet of my existence. So what has happened to punk rock? And back to my opening question – if drinking in the parking lot of a punk show is grounds for ostracizing one from a once irreverent subculture, what is left for one to do in order to strike fear into the hearts of society?