The Language of Hairzilla

The Language of Hairzilla

SmokeLong Quarterly
Issue 33 (2011-10-02)

Chris Terry, Writer, Editor, Educator

cover art “Sparta, NJ” by David Ohlerking
Art by Myles Karr

Punk is a revelation the first time your skateboarding friend takes you to a show. You’re fifteen in saggy jeans. You watch bands emerge from the audience, lay waste to your eardrums for twenty minutes, then slip back into the crowd to joke with their friends. Anyone could do it and everyone was equal. You knew it was as close as you’d ever get to finding a world of people like you.

You are biracial. In the Boston suburbs, you were a black kid at a white school and everyone urged you to “grow an af-rowww.” Say “af-rowww” in the valley girl voice that trite black comedians use to mimic white folks. Af-rowww. Pause between the syllables to pull your top front teeth from your bottom lip. Af-rowww.

Your hair covers the tops of your ears. You haven’t cut it since you moved, but The Af-rowww People can’t see you in Virginia. You weren’t out to make them happy anyway. Now, you’re a white kid at a black school and your classmates call you Kermit thee Frog because of the way you sound reading.

After that first punk show, the energy of the music and the anger boiling in your apartment combine to ignite a punk bomb inside of you. You try to do something good with the explosion. You somersault out the door, stapling show flyers to telephone poles. Punk is for everyone, even people whose families can’t hold on to their houses, whose parents lecture by saying, “We’re done with you. Don’t expect anything else from us besides a roof and some of this spaghetti.” You try to be indignant and stonefaced, but start crying. You ask why. They pull out a yellow legal pad with a list of your infractions…

Read the entire essay here.

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