In 1985, at the age of nineteen, my two best friends from the High School of Art and Design convinced me to go with them to a Punk show at the Ritz in the East Village. At the time I didn’t really care about Punk as I grew up in the then Latino Southside area of Williamsburg on a steady diet of Disco and early Hip Hop with a sprinkling of some White Boy Rock thrown into the mix. But any excuse to go out drinking and goofing with the guys worked for me. No matter where we wound up, it was usually big fun.
I went to the show and I was shocked at the controlled chaos that was exploding around me. People were moshing, slamming, screaming, and literally flying through the air like maniacs. I had no idea this even existed. I was amazed that this form of expression and physicality was unfolding without erupting into the violence that was so typical in my Brooklyn neighborhood. Just like that I was hooked. In Punk I had found the perfect place to release my urban teen angst without getting beat down or locked up.
After the show, as we walked back to my buddy’s car, he realized he’d lost his car keys in the madness of the night. It was his dad’s car so our only option was to go back and try to find them, so we stumbled back and convinced the clean up guys to let us look for the keys. Miraculously, we found them. I also found this concert T-shirt amidst all the garbage on the floor. I took it home, stuffed it in a closet, and didn’t give it much thought again for years. Every once in a while, I’d pull it out and consider tossing it. Thankfully I didn’t, and at some point I came to realize that that Punk show – along with this T-shirt – symbolized a coming-of-age of sorts for my friends and me while growing up in a very culturally vibrant 80’s NYC. I soon found myself mixing it up at all of the local shows and seeing most of the iconic Punk legends. To this day those friends and I are still as tight as brothers. We all wound up with severe hangovers that next day, but I’m the only one who got a shirt.