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15 December 2000, 00:00

As I was puttering around, going about the daily business of my life, doing the mundane things that you have to do, I ran smack dab into a vortex of culture clashing , right in my very own neighborhood grocery store. It was an angst filled, angry young man wreathing painfully in his awareness. Or I had assumed he was angry since he had, most probably in a fit of desperate rage, painted his nails black and shaved off most of his body hair (that I could see). Angst filled, I had assumed because of his disdain and contempt that radiated off his being, just as stink rises off of the dooky of a dog who has eaten bad sausages. And painfully self aware because he is a Goth in a world full of unfeeling norms. His pseudo-sex pistols sneering attitude was evident, when he turned to me and force the words, “Will that be plastic or paper?” out of his clenched teeth.

It was a moment of pure Zen, seeing the obviously proud, seething cauldron of manhood whose daily execution of his current career duties put him in contact with the likes of me, the living world, of whom scurry about the daylight. Poor little Goth boy in his Food-For-Less apron, black attitude intact, a potential candidate for expensive long term psychiatric therapy.

Egads. Little rich white boy, who shaved off a perfectly adequate head of hair was full of angst in rage. Although, he is a little stupid. If I had angst and rage, I would most probably, find someone ELSE’s head to shave. To address the source of his pain, I could only guess. Mommy and Daddy don’t understand him, his teachers are CLEARLY jealous of his youth and clarity of thought, the establishment are afraid of him because he is so clearly a threat to their power. Yeah, right. And to top it all off, he can’t quit getting erections when he bags old Mrs. Neely’s groceries. Or Mr. Neely’s for that matter.

Boo fucking hoo.

I don’t mean to be facetious in terms of dealing with this young man’s anguish and the way he expresses himself but, B-F-H. This boy is just going through puberty, and learning where he belongs. He hates the fact that he is not special nor especially bright. He hates the Mommy that washes his dirty underwear, and all those black Danzig tee shirts. He hates the Daddy that works to get him money for his 1984 Ford Horizon he drives and the 8 extra holes he had decided to put into his head. He thinks the store manager is a facist pig who’s a slave driver, even though he was hired by this very same man, who ignored the fact that his bald, pimply head and nose stud makes most of security guards nervous. We (us norms, grown-ups, nerds, etc.) just don’t get it. We don’t feel the pain, or exist in their dark world, or deal with the turmoil they have…

Oh PULLLLEEEZZZZZEEEE. The first time I ran into Goths (or as we called them here in the land of Oz, artfuck people) was at a college party. We don’t have many in the midwest because its it so uncool to be here, but more importantly, because they raised the bag limit on Goths during hunting season. Being a Goth was a symbol of rebellion, and a bloody stab at the face and upper body of normal society of whom represented all that was plastic, and superficial in life. Deeper meaning and painful self awareness (plus massive amounts of controlled substances) was the driving force of this sub culture thriving in the shadows. I had good friends who indulged in this culture of self absorption, and consequentially I was “awarded” the artfuck beat when I wrote for my college paper. It was partly because I didn’t laugh right out loud at most of them, and that if they had put me on the greek beat, I would have taken my own life in a most horrible and messy way in the editorial office.

It was an interesting scene – gatherings of depressed, self absorbed, drunk youth swaying like wheat to the Cure and Depeche Mode or some strained cacophony of industrial music. Most grew out of it, some made a life of it – such as one could make out of clinical depression. I guess its the succumbing and sublimation of one’s self to the greater force of society that gets their goat. Maybe in their heart of hearts, they know they wouldn’t be a very successful norm, so they don’t try. Maybe its self deception as they go through life, showing contempt and rebellion to the society at large because we just don’t get “it” (although, examining a whole herd of these Goths together, they are pretty indistinguishable from each other, and have their own forced subcultural conformity.)

Could it be in this very comfortable society, that most youth trying to grope their way through the darkness and unconscionableness of adolescence find no real guides and no real landmarks to help them in their time of body changes and unwanted hair? Most cultures have ritualized and ceremoniously marked the time of adulthood and clearly defined roles for the members of the society. African tribes circumcise young boys, Polynesian cultures tattoo as a permanent marking of an important event or rite of passage (and I mean tattoo in the non-pussy sense where the ink is cut into the flesh with a knife until the blade hits bone.) We’ve overdone the installation of self esteem until we have reared a whole generation who think most of their wants are needs and most of the needs they experience are bonifide rights. Sometimes getting what you want is the ultimate tragedy.

I was a semi-voluntary member of a road trip to the Aqua Lounge in Dallas with four members of this artfuck, anti-bow crowd. With bags of narcotics and gallons of alcohol in hand, we headed out in our little Goth Saab, with our little Euro-trash, ubercool, driver I’ll call Richie Bitch. A little blonde boy from a wealthy family (whom didn’t understand him) who had disdain for just about everybody and everything, especially a vocal contempt for police just wasn’t the best choice as chauffeur, as I think back on the incident. We ran into two cops, and got two speeding tickets. Go figure. And after each encounter, Little Richie, turned up Depeche Mode and railed on about killing coppers and showing “them”. Richie, I think, had more pocket money available to him that night than my parents made in three months of working. He had his health, although I don’t know for how long if he had kept up the consumption of drugs he had that night. He seem to have everything but a good attitude, and a realization of purpose, and the common sense god gave a hamster. He needed a spanking and not in the good way. He tried to be scary, but ended up looking stupid.

Most scary youth are not the black clad, somber, overly pierced kids slinking about in the shadows who indulge in darkness as a lifestyle. They don’t dress like manic depressive clowns. They don’t have black lipstick and possess most of their hair in its original color. But their pain is truly the pain we should be concern with because its from real trauma and real injustices dealt to them. The kids who’s darkness and secrets are unbearable burdens, and sometimes explode into scary consequences. Drug addiction. Violence. Shootings. Its rage that builds up and festers in young people who have developed no real coping mechanisms. Its rage unleashed through drugs and alcohol. Its a lack of foresight, and realization of consequences. Its a real tragedy of GOTHIC proportions.

The “darkness” is not a lifestyle choice. It’s their life.