Jim Lindberg is an author; father, husband, and former lead singer of the punk band Pennywise. In Punk Rock Dad the author discusses his struggle with...moreJim Lindberg is an author; father, husband, and former lead singer of the punk band Pennywise. In Punk Rock Dad the author discusses his struggle with being a punk rocker while yet being a responsible and attentive father in an engaging and humorous way.
This book resonated with me on many levels. I have just entered a new phase in my life that is similar to the one Jim has lived for some time. Almost nine months ago I began dating and eventually moved in with a beautiful woman who has two small children. For most of my adult life I have been single and lived as a bachelor. For the past several years I have spent much of my time hanging out with friends; going to shows, writing and partying. Suddenly, after living like a “crazy man” for many years, I find myself living the life of married man with two children. Adjusting to this new lifestyle has been both challenging and rewarding. Jim says that the frustrations of life with children often drive him out of the house where he attends punk shows; moshes, and drinks. I have found myself in a similar position several times. When I’ve had enough of the irritations of life with children I have left the house to attend shows or to just hang out with my friends playing video games; smoking and cursing. Jim says that it’s these times that allow him to recharge his batteries and to cope with life at home without blowing up.
His devotion to his children is always clear despite these struggles. He states that, “The active role I’ll be able to take in helping boost our kids’ self-esteem is never giving up in the search to find something that interests them. I can turn them onto music by buying them a secondhand guitar or drum set, get them involved in sports by taking them to basketball games or skate contests, or go down to the tide pools and try to get them interested in marine biology. If you haven’t introduced your child to all these things in an endless search to help them find something they’re interested in, you haven’t done your job.” In one endearing and touching passage Jim describes how his children proclaimed that he no longer played with them. He builds a tent in the backyard, camps out with them, and stays up all night playing games with them.
Not all of his efforts at punk rock parenting succeed, but the author seems to understand some very real and sometimes hard truths about being an adult. Truths that would seem at odds with the punk lifestyle but which the author says are important to impart to his children.Jim explains that “At a certain age we begin to realize that, like it or not, there are some rules that will keep you alive. We find out that our happiness-or at least staying out of really shitty situations-is eventually what becomes most important in life, and it’s hard to be happy when you’re in jail, on skid row, or dead.”
Jim was, like me, also middle-aged when he wrote this book. Also like me he dresses much like he did when he was fourteen. “Levis 501s, Vans slip-ons, and a surf shop T-shirt and baseball cap.” He believes that his own refusal to grow up and dress and behave like other typical middle-aged adults gives him a unique perspective on life and that he can bridge the generation gap with his children, and eventually realize the dream of a better world envisioned by punk rock. Jim declares, “If instead of forcing our religions, dogmas, and short-sighted way of thinking on them, we could encourage to them to think for themselves, and show them how to be gracious and tolerant, rather than selfish, and close-minded, maybe we could in fact make this world a better place, simply by being good parents. Wasn’t this supposed to be the underlying goal of punk music in the first place that we were to expose society for the sham it was, in the dim hopes of replacing it with a better one?”
Jim’s passion for music and for punk ideals is clear through the entire book. He says that punk, “Is not a fashion or an age, but a way of looking at the world and finding your place in it, and like country, rock ‘n’ roll, blues and hip hop, it’s going to be around a long time, as long as someone isn’t willing to settle for the status quo and has an amplifier and guitar to tell the world about it.”
While Jim may or may not have achieved his goal of balancing punk ideals with the reality of adulthood and responsibility is debatable, his clear love for his family is never hidden. His passion and love for his subjects and his passion for life also come through clearly in the book. It’s refreshing to read something by someone so in love with his family and with his punk rock roots. I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who struggles with remaining true to their punk rock roots while trying to balance that want with the one to be a good parent. I would also suggest it to people looking to read something fun but with a good heart and a unique perspective on life.(less)
Tom Hodgkinson is the founder of the bi-annual book sized magazine, The Idler. The Idler’s stated philosophy is one of bringing dignity back to the ar...moreTom Hodgkinson is the founder of the bi-annual book sized magazine, The Idler. The Idler’s stated philosophy is one of bringing dignity back to the art of loafing. Tom is also an anarchist, who believes the state hinders human relations and creates, rather than prevents, the problems that people face in modern society. His philosophy espouses personal responsibility, honor, self-sufficiency, and civility. Rather than being a radical who believes that the government should be overthrown in favor of chaos, Hodgkinson states that “the true radical will create their own society existing alongside of the state and will laugh at the folly of those chasing promotions, a pension, and cheap consumer goods.” He calls for the truly free to enjoy life and to “eat, drink, and be merry.”
The Freedom Manifesto is fascinating, and a real page-turner. It is full of many practical ways in which the individual can practice anarchism in his or her own life. I laughed at the cheek in which Tom presents his ideals and the humor inherent in his delivery methods. The author often comes across as idealistic and a throwback to so-called “better times”, but he embraces his anachronistic stance. He claims that looking to the past is preferable to looking to a future which has not yet happened, because the past has happened, it has been proven to work, and to be workable. He draws on such influences as French existentialists, beat poets, hippies, yippies, medieval thinkers, Taoism, St. Augustine, and other anarchists.
This book speaks to my deep dissatisfaction over being a member of a consumer culture and feeling a great deal of pressure to define myself as a successful person because I have managed to scrape up the rungs of the corporate ladder at a mind-numbing, soul-crushing job or, worse yet, become subservient to the same corporation with no mind, no will, and no voice of my own. As an alternative to the competition inherent in such a system, Hodgkinson says cooperation should be embraced instead. Oddly enough, I’ve found that the book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey calls for people to engage in cooperation instead of competition. This is a book that is usually read by workaholics and obsessive corporate ladder climbers. Hodgkinson calls for a return to the guild system, in which members all worked to protect each other and their craft instead of competing with one another.
He says one shouldn’t define oneself by the expectations of anyone else, to not be a slave of the corporate-consumer-debt culture. He also says to grow your own food, make your own culture, create a society within society, be fully responsible for yourself, and learn to live on less. He continues on to suggest being more creative, civil, and polite, and keeping a careful record of where and how you spend your money. Hodgkinson urges us to live in the moment, to realize life is absurd so make your own meaning. Most of all, embrace life for all its imperfections and just enjoy it.
As much as I enjoyed the book, I cannot fully endorse anarchism for the entire world or even certain individuals, especially not in the world as it is now. Anarchism, along with libertarianism and socialism, all appeal to me. These systems assume that humanity is good; that people would cooperate and learn to look out for one another if only the government or other oppressive forces would get out of the way. I suppose I’m a pessimist, and it could also be argued that such a system as pure socialism or pure anarchism has never truly been tried and proven wrong, but I believe humanity is evil and there will always be people who abuse their freedoms, oppress their fellow man, and take advantage of those weaker than themselves. M. Scott Peck, another author whom I greatly admire, was once asked what human nature was. He stated that it was human nature to shit one’s pants, but one can be taught to overcome and transcend this basic behavior. I know many people cannot assume full responsibility of their lives and cannot be trusted to be kind and civil to those around them; people like addicts, sex offenders, and the greedy. Nevertheless, I believe this book has helped me gain a respect for myself and those people who call themselves idlers who are yet hard working, creative, and respectable. I did enjoy the book and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for an engaging and fun read, or to anyone looking for a different perspective on life and for an alternative to the all-encompassing American consumer culture. But I would recommend caution before fully embracing anarchy as a way of life for everyone.(less)