“Police Story” – Black Flag

When I was 16 years old, I gave a cop the middle finger, told him to go “f–k” himself, and got away with it. That’s absolutely true. Pretty baddasssss, huh? Well … before I legally change my name to Eazy-D and get “Thug Life” tattooed on my stomach, I need to confess that what I said is only part of the story …

Cut to … Memorial Day, 1986 … My friends and I are at the beach walking around. Because there’s tons of people out that day walking around, naturally, people driving cars have to navigate around all the pedestrians. As my friends and I are crossing the street (I’m not clear whether I was legally crossing or not), a car going very fast declines to stop or slow down and almost hits all of us. For good measure, he honks very loudly. If you know anything about me, you’ll know I’m one of the most risk-averse people you’ll ever met. So what happened next surprises me even to this day. I was so mad at what this guy in the car did, I turned around quickly, shot my middle finger up, and yelled “F–k you!”

What I didn’t realize is that directly behind this car was a police car … and the police officer thought that my gestures were directed at him. Since I was still reeling from the car that almost hit me, I was stomping down the street in self-righteous (and idiotic … because I was probably jaywalking) anger, oblivious to the fact that a police officer was VERY upset with me. I then heard some screeching tires and and a very angry, authoritative voice yell “HEY YOU! GET BACK HERE!” At that point, I think one of my friends pointed out that it was the police. To this day, I don’t know why I did this, but I … just … kept … walking … at the same speed and determination I had before. Don’t get me wrong. I was completely petrified at that stage. It seems utterly ridiculous, but in my head, I thought, “If you believe that it didn’t happen, then it didn’t happen, so if you keep walking like it didn’t happen, then it didn’t happen” And then … for whatever reason … the cop drove off.

To be fair, I don’t think I have Jedi mind trick powers. Likely, the cop probably thought it was too much trouble to go after me or he saw someone else doing something way worse and drove off. If you’re reading this, do not try this when a police officer tells you to “GET BACK HERE!” Doing what I did will likely not only get you arrested, but probably get you invited to a party where you’ll accidentally fall on some billy clubs.

Anyway, afterwards, I was pretty shaken up by what happened, but my friends whooped and hollered like I was some cross between Burt Reynolds from “Smokey and the Bandit,” Johnny Rotten, and Tupac. In fact, for the next few years, any time we were at a gathering where girls were present, my friends would tell everyone that I flipped off a cop. Of course, because I had no idea when it’s smart to keep your mouth shut, I would always interject, “Well, that’s not the entire story …” and then completely blow whatever cool my friends had bought me.

Cut to 2013… My wife and I will occasionally go to gatherings where we’ll meet people and she’ll tell them we lived in New York for 9 years. As people start to look at me like I’m Lou Reed, I then explain, “Well, it was actually upstate …” and then they look at me like I’m from Boise and my wife shakes her head.

You know what? Forget everything after the first two sentences. Straight outta CP, crazy motherf–ker named Strange Dave, from a band called … uh, crap, I give up.

“Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991” written by Michael Azerrad

One of the best music books of the last 10-15 years is Michael Azerrad’s history of American alternative rock from 1981-1991, “Our Band Could Be Your Life.”  Released in 2001 and available in digital format within the next day or so, “Life” is the college radio version of “Easy Riders, Raging Bulls” (Peter Biskind’s exhaustive and stellar look at Hollywood of the 1970s).  Azerrad devotes each chapter to a different seminal band of the period (Mission of Burma, Butthole Surfers, The Minutemen, Sonic Youth, Black Flag, Big Black, Hüsker Dü, Fugazi, Minor Threat, Mudhoney, The Replacements, Beat Happening, and Dinosaur Jr.).  Some of the stories you may know … others you won’t.  But if you have any interest at all in rock history (especially alternative / progressive rock), “Life” is a must.  The chapter on the Butthole Surfers by itself is worth the price of the entire book.  Seriously, the chapter reads like Hunter S. Thompson smoking angel dust with Monty Python with chaos, insanity, humor, and violence ensuing like a motherf–ker!