In the not-so-distant past, I’d have been so immersed in whiskey, rock and slamdancing, that if a sawed-off denim-wrapped little Misfits clone had answered Danielle’s apologetic inquiry about whether or not she was invading his space with “Would it matter if you were? I’m just so angry right now” I’d have indulged his announced anger with my own bourbon-fueled and hypermasculine response—an open invitation to violence (if not an outright desire for it). Instead, this time, I was content to sit at the bar and sip a watered-down Maker’s Mark while pondering the significance of this young man’s “presentation of self”. “What would Goffman think?” I wondered, as I seem to do more and more frequently these days. (I blame Eddy and Heather Branham-Green.)
Similarly, I thought about the effortless manner in which my wife negotiates such circumstances. Surrounded by at least a dozen subcultures that all seem to blur together in the weird humidity resulting from this recent Kentucky monsoon season, she danced, smiled and laughed her way through and around angry skinheads, scary skaters, burly bikers, greased-up greasers, and I suspect even a few halfway hysterical hipsters. If the whole world is indeed a stage, as Willy and Erving suspected, Danielle dances across it as if no one is watching, which makes it impossible to take your eyes off her.
We had barely arrived at the Green Lantern when flashing red, white and blue lights provided the ambience. A couple of cars crashed into one another just beyond the parking lot in an automotive foreshadowing of what we would find inside. I wonder whether or not this event is on YouTube already, as a dozen smartphone-wielding smokers converged on the scene nearly as quickly as the cops. Despite the heavy police presence, I felt a bizarre kind of calm watching the bikers, skaters, skins, and probably a poser or two bear witness digitally. My mind flashed to the research of Drs. Linnemann and Wall, and I wished they could experience this surreal situation as it was rapidly unfolding. Then, a Pabst Blue Ribbon was thrust into my hand by my good friend John Dale. A high-powered mutant never even considered for mass production, John Dale manages to maneuver this complex cultural burgoo as well as my wife (even if he’s not as skilled a dancer).
We made our way inside just in time to catch the Brassknuckle Boys busting out “Appalachian Industry” with as much intensity as the collision of cars outside earlier, the lyrics being even more impactful:
"Well, there's a meth lab up on the hill,
just around the corner from an old moonshine still
and a shiny new prison down the road.
For some folks its a place to live,
For others its a job that's stable.
But, for everyone in this goddamn town
Its putting food on the table.
Appalachian industry meets Appalachian poverty,
They'll still look at you and say:
love it or leave it,
be thankful for what you've got
and don't be too surprised when they come to take your guns."
Folks were whipped into a frenzy, a few were tossed around like beach balls at a Jimmy Buffett show, and a bath of Pabst Blue Ribbon awaited all who might try to wade into the melee. Danielle and I stood in the entry way watching it all go down, and I heard the bartender announce with a certain level of anxiety that “we’re already out of PBR…” at nearly the same time as the band asked for five of them. Chris “Spit” Ward, who taught me most of what little I know about tattooing was skillfully plugging away on the bass guitar, contributing to the chaos circulating in front of the stage as the band tore into a high-speed cover of “Sunday Morning Coming Down” and “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”. Watching the crowd react almost instinctively to the music, singing along as intensely as they bounced around and into one another, I was reminded of the work of Drs. Cox and Tunnell with Edward L.W. Green involving “Songwriting and Social Justice”.
As such, I wondered to myself whether it was the topics discussed in Dacey’s lyrics or some other frustration(s) leading to all this energy, angry or otherwise. We left a little early out of hunger, but as we entered our cab, the lyrics to the song “Fighting Poor” gave me hope that, as the Who argued, “the kids are alright”:
"Raised on the values of the Working Class,
we've got no future and damn near no past,
been knocked down but never hit the floor
we're the ones they call the Fighting Poor!
Don't try to change us we're not changin',
you'll never be like us is why this war is wagin,
save your fuckin' breath cause we're not listening,
you're always gonna be a bitch to the system,
Bitch to the System, Bitch to the System,
That's what you fuckin' are is a Bitch to the system...
They knock us down, down, down some more
We're the fuckin' members of the fighting poor,
for those who know struggle,
for you this song,
no matter what they do you will always be strong
Raised on the values of the Working Class,
try to make a future and forget the past,
we know we are going to have to always fight
but we are not giving in cause we know we are right"