If it isn't true for you, then it isn't true.
People always pushed me towards college when I was in high school. I had good grades, much better than average, and to them it was a natural choice for me. This was never my choice, however. I literally had no idea what I wanted to do with the next 45 years of my life. Definitely, I knew there were things inside of me that were not going to let me lead the standard existence that the blueprint called for. So against the wishes of pretty much everyone in my family, I decided to forego the typical path and make my own way. My heart told me to follow it, and I complied even though the heart gave me no indication of what that final destination might be, or what obstacles might insert themselves into my way of getting there.
So I landed in the San Francisco Bay Area, to be more specific in the East Bay, in the bustling and booming suburbs. I found a good job in a machine shop, making the fantastic (in those days for someone just out of high school) wage of $7.50/hour. I worked hard during the week, and when it came to the weekends, I always made an effort to play hard as well. A friend from Wyoming had also made the journey to California, and since we were both musicians, soon we were eagerly diving into the local music scenes. Although I had grown up mostly a metalhead, my friend was a bit of a punk, and somewhere along he had made friends with some other punks. One night around 1988-89 they took me along to this place in Berkeley, a club named after its address - 924 Gilman St. For the next 4 years, not a month would go by that I did not attend either a Friday or Saturday night show there at least once. The bands I witnessed performed there would change and mold my life forever, and have more to do with who and what I am today than any college or university could ever hope to. Indeed, since these were my "college" years, the bands of Gilman St are more responsible for my education than any NCAA sanctioned institute could ever hope to be.
The term "punk" in those days actually covered a very wide variety of styles. From hardcore thrash bordering on metal, to happy go lucky Ramones style punk that more resembled pop music. In fact, the biggest band to ever come out of the Gilman scene, Green Day, is definitely more of a pop band than a punk band. Although they were far from my favorite, I saw Green Day many, many times in those days. The reason for this was quite simple. Most shows at 924 Gilman were sausage-fests, to put it in a way. But when Green Day played, even then, the place was packed with girls. And not the typical punk rock girls either, but beautiful girls, many were probably UC-Berkeley students, and we would go see if any of them wanted to rebel against daddy with a working class dude. Unfortunately for us, more times than not we weren't what they were looking for - but it was fun trying. This is a Green Day song from those early days, before the fame.
Another band I caught was The Offspring. My good friend Gary liked these guys immediately, mostly because Gary was a vocalist and the vocalist had a little bit more going on than the usual. I loved this band back then and I still like them now. It is very hard for me to comprehend that they now have been a band well over 20 years. I am definitely getting old.
That brings me to my favorite three bands of my Gilman street experience. Those three bands are NOFX, Bad Religion and Neurosis. The first time I saw NOFX stands out more than any other. The bus that the band was touring with had broken down on the way to the gig. We had waited and waited around Club 924 Gilman, where refreshments were few and far between. They did not serve food or drinks at Gilman back in those days. Gilman was and is (even to this day) a DIY - do it yourself- club, and you were on your own. Finally, after a couple of hours, NOFX arrived. Not only did they apologize profusely for their tardiness, they preceded to execute one HELL of a rock N roll show, including encore that would have blown the socks off of bands as big as Guns N Roses back in those days. NOFX had it all back then, and although they have changed guitarists since then, the core members of the group remain to this day and are still fighting the punk fight. I listen to NOFX today in my truck, their music means as much to me as it did back then. Of course, I was a drunk back then, but now I'm a drunk who makes money. You can make the punk not punk, but you can never take the punk out of the punk.
Bad Religion were considered like the older brothers of the Gilman scene. Gilman itself was started as a club in 1986, and I'm sure Bad Religion were playing there from the beginning. We usually stood and watched them in awe, masters of the style they chose. Although this particular video was recorded at the Hollywood Palladium, it could have just as easily been a Gilman St gig.
This brings me to my last and favorite Gilman St band. Words really can't describe the effect this band had on my life and the eventual outcome that came about. Their lyrics are hippy, their music pure solid metal. Like a new-age medicine man's words delivered with the subtlety of a sledgehammer, the music and lyrics of Neurosis portray the life that I have tried to live since hearing them. I surely don't live up to their lofty ideals, but at every attempt I try. I am a child of Gilman St, and although I now work for The Man, the spirit of Anarchy has never, and will never , leave me. In the following video, I was actually in the audience that night. What a stroke of Youtube brilliance, that this night was actually preserved.
Although only 5 videos, the bands I saw at Gilman street profoundly changed my life. This is just a small sample -most of these bands have faded into obscurity, with not even a Youtube video to mark their time here on earth. I(Although all 5 of the bands whose videos I have featured are actually still active and making music) But I, who slammed to their tunes, am here to carry their spirit on. Look. Your parents can tell you one thing. Maybe yet your friends will tell you another. But in the end there is only one voice you can listen to. This is the voice from your heart, the voice that tells you what the right thing is to do. I can't tell you that the path I walked is the right path for everyone. I'm quite sure it isn't. I can only tell you the path I walked was the right path for ME. I wouldn't change this path, or trade the decisions I made for anything. Life has turned out very well for me, no regrets. All I can tell you, is what some guy told me a long time ago, when I didn't know anything about anything. He told me:
If it isn't true for you, it isn't true.
This is like religion to me.