10.13.2019 08:47 AM

Me and Fight Club

About forty years ago, I stood on a stage in a community hall in Calgary, and looked down at a swirling, tilting mosh pit of punks, slamming into each other, leaping, fighting.

It was chaos.  It was anarchy.  It was a giant washing machine on its side, grinding away, filled up with sweat and blood and fists.  The place was going to detonate at any moment, shooting pieces of building and punk rockers all over Seventeenth Avenue.

My band, the Hot Nasties, played on.  I was the lead singer, straddled centre stage, and I looked down at the punks.  There were hundreds of them at our sold-out show.  We had put up a few posters, but that’s it.  In 1978-79, we could draw a thousand punks by word of mouth alone.

I felt this warm wave wash over me, and I realized I was smiling.  Later on, I figured out what it was: it was joy.  Pure joy.

I had never really been into the anarchy ethos of the punk movement.  I was a punk, sure, but I still lived in suburban Calgary with my parents.  Extolling anarchy seemed a bit hypocritical, to me.

But at that moment, at that show – as everything was descending into pure, unadulterated chaos – it felt like the world was about to atomize, and fall between the cracks of the floor at the community hall.  And I felt exultant.  I felt jubilant.

Yes, yes, I know: I’m a lawyer now.  I worked for a Prime Minister.  I have a house in the County. I’m in my late fifties. I’ve navigated the establishment, and I’ve done okay.  I have kids. Yes.

But, as I get older, I find myself orbiting inexorably closer to that teenaged punk that I was.  Back to when I had no ideology, no party membership, no governing philosophy.  Just a desire to rip everything apart.  Rip it to pieces.

Throughout this election campaign, I’ve been asked often why I hate Justin Trudeau.  I always say the same thing: “I don’t hate him.  If I really hated him, he wouldn’t be still standing.  He’s just a liar, and I don’t like liars.  All of them, all of the partisans are mostly liars, too.”

Justin Trudeau is Ikea.

So, I have about 42,000 Twitter followers.  There’s just one of them, a guy I don’t even know, who gets me.  Every time I point my flamethrower at something, he always says the same sort of thing: “The punk.”  And I say to him: I don’t even know who the fuck you are, and you know the inside of my grimy, calloused, safety-pinned soul.

Tear it all down, start over again.  That – along with anger, and DIY, and anti-racism – is what the punk movement was all about.  And punk remains my only ideology, pretty much.

I’d apologize for the long-winded intro, but it’s probably more appropriate to say fuck you if you don’t like it.  You didn’t pay to get in here, did you?

What I wanted to say – what I wanted to explain – is my profound love of Fight Club, the movie.  It’s twenty years old, as Barry Hertz writes in this column in the Globe. It affected him, I think, like it affected me and a million other misfits and losers and punks.

Fight Club – like Clockwork Orange, Repo Man, The Rock Horror Picture Show and a precious few other movies – was like this documentary about the inside of every punk’s brain.  There was some misogyny in there, and some adolescent stupidity, and some other stuff that should’ve been taken out.  But, mostly, it was this perfect movie that no one went to see when it came out, twenty years ago.  Except us.  

Slouching in the dark of a movie theatre somewhere, watching everything whirl and twirl and then self-destruct.  Gloriously, dramatically, perfectly.

Make no mistake, Conservatives edging ever-closer to power: I’m going to eventually come after you, too, just like I did the Trudeau Cult.

It’s not that I hate you, it’s just that I’m 17, still, and I can’t help myself.




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    Phil says:

    That’s an awesome take on modern anarchy, not wanting to destroy the world, just wanting to destroy the things that aren’t real.
    I totally agree that the conservatives too will have their chance to be attacked and I’ll hate it when it happens but I respect the man doing it.
    I have been critical of your bromance for Jean Chretien but I have just had my cataracts removed – I was just like you than – wanting to tear up the Mulroney reign. Wish I had stayed so true to my roots.

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    jsa says:

    i am awake only in what i love & desire to the point of terror — everything else is merely shrouded furniture, quotidian anaesthesia, shit-for-brains, sub-reptilian ennui of totalitarian regimes, banal censorship & useless pain https://youtu.be/_oEgK13Qx7E

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    Ronald O'Dowd says:

    You’re higher up on the pecking order: I have to settle for mere shit-disturber. How I envy you.

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    Ted says:

    At the Boot in London or the Bev in Toronto. Or Larry’s. That’s where I was back then.

    Tell the stories of the Ontario punks Warren. You are the writer. We all know that by now.

    Watch Not Dead Yet from Ed Mowbray from back in the day if you have not.

    Punk will never die and it seems right now we need some extra punk.

    So be an historian or get on with it.

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    Robert White says:

    I was playing with The Friction City Bugs, Ottawa Police, & RCMP all in 1979. Police were called every Saturday night jam session due to the old folks home & church rectory that were in the vicinity.

    The best of times in Ottawa were at The Rotter’s Club on Bank Street. The Action with Paul Fenton was practically the house band.

    Rent was cheap for studio space too. Not like today either.

    I miss the Watts & noise chaos.

    Fuck anarchy when one can play with Watts. The police show up faster with Watts.


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    Chris says:

    Tyler Durden doesn’t vote Liberal. Tyler Durden would rip the socks off of Trudeau, and take the feet with him at the same time.

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    Lee Hill says:

    Surrounded as I am in Airstrip One (Broken Brexit Britain) these days by far too many former punks and slackers turned buy to rent landlords, reality TV commissioning editors, City lawyers, branding junkies, members of the European Research Group and other apostate Gen Xers, I confess I can barely remember Fight Club or can only really listen to about half of London Calling now. Opinions differ. One’s response to any item of pop culture that bursts through the consumerist reflex that engulf us all is so often subjective and personal…shaped by one’s life experience and choices rather than any connection to something bigger.. But I digress. I thought David Fincher anticipated the hollowness of our times more accurately in Seven, The Game and Social Network. I grow old, I grow old…to pay the rent I keep my 3 for the price of 2 dress shirts rolled.
    Or to paraphrase a famous dead rock star, to be governed by these unelected fascists is so degrading.
    Apologies for the stream of consciousness rant, but at least I use my real name and not LivesInMom’sBasement666.

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    William R Morrison says:

    Don’t shut this site down. I like reading a Liberal (I’m not one) who agrees with me about Trudeau.

    But Twitter is a total waste of everyone’s time.

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