I am perhaps the most unlikely cheerleader for punk rock you could imagine. As a musician, I play in an instrumental fusion group on a 6-string "coffee-table" bass. As for personal style, I look a lot more like a hippie than a punker. For income, I work in a cubicle. And yet, I consider that music and that scene to be the single most important influence on me not just musically, but politically and ethically as well. In 1986, I was a 13-year-old priveleged white suburban metal kid. A new style, thrash, was coming in to prominence, which made my former idols Iron Maiden seem commercial and tepid in comparison. My friends and I were all listening to Metallica's "Master Of Puppets", Slayer's "Reign In Blood", Anthrax' "Spreading the Disease" and Megadeth's "Peace Sells". Then one day, a friend (who's favorite band was Dio) came in to school with a tape he bought because "it looked cool". He loaned it to me, and I ended up liking it a lot more than he or any of my other friends did. The tape? "Who's Got The 10 1/2?" by Black Flag. Before long, I was listening to G.B.H., Sex Pistols, Misfits, D.R.I., Dead Kennedys, etc. This stuff was all old news by this time (late 80s), but I was literally the only punk rocker in my high school. And of course, I really knew nothing about the scene; I was a sheltered suburban kid, and most definitely a poseur. I turned 18 and graduated high school in 1991, a year that has since become mythologized in the annals of rock history as much as 1969 or 1977. I finally got my driver's license, and, having befriended a couple of like-minded people at a guitar store, began going to shows in nearby Albany NY and trying to start my own band. I was giving lessons at the time (something I really had no business doing) and one of my students came by with a tape by a band called Fugazi. In a now-laughable attempt to appear hipper than my student, I pretended to be unimpressed.... and then headed immediately to the record store. One of the things that has inspired this long-winded reminiscing is that I've been reading a lot of books and watching a lot of documentaries about punk rock lately. Frankly, and this is actually kind of funny, I was pretty shocked at just how violent it apparently was before my time. Thanks in large part to bands like Fugazi (who I adore) and Beat Happening (who I do not), by the time I got to it punk was outgrowing its macho jock crap and becoming something more peaceful, inclusive, and intellectual. And so, against all conventional wisdom, I posit here that the late 80s-early 90s was, in a way, the real "golden era" of punk. BUT, let's not forget our historical context here. I'm talking about 1991, the year that the first Lollapalooza went on tour, and the year that Nirvana released "Nevermind". And while I know this sounds like the grumblings of a middle-aged guy, nothing was ever the same since. It might have looked like a baby and a dollar bill, but what was really in the water now was blood, and it was being smelled by the very establishment that the indie network was designed to circumvent. Not only did the corporate rock scene completely co-opt our sound and style, watering it down for mass consumption like Pat Boone doing Little Richard, but the even the indie labels started to view themselves as the "farm teams" for the major labels, and everyone was looking for the next Nirvana. The result? Bland conformity, for the most part, with a few freaky acts going all-out in apparent rebellion (see also the immortal Thinking Fellers Union Local 282). And something else happened in 1991 that often gets overlooked. Metallica, you may remember, had an album that year too, the so-called black album, which introduced the world to charms of "corporate thrash", which exists to this day in the form of bands like Staind, Disturbed, Static-X, etc. So, the very same year that punk/indie rock was co-opted, the world's foremost thrash metal band sold out completely. (Thank Satan for Slayer, anyway.) So for me, not just punk, but rock music itself kind of died in 1991. Not that I haven't heard bands that I liked since, but by the mid-nineties I had completely switched camps, listening mainly to jazz (and Frank Zappa, which is a whole other thread). Jazz is so defiantly uncommercial that it simply cannot be co-opted, except for the occasional "crossover" success, usually something very watered down and safe (isn't it always?) like Norah Jones or Michael Buble or something. Yawn. Gimme Bad Brains or gimme Bad Plus, but spare me bad music, OK? So, I'd love to hear other people's takes on it, and I would also be interested in historical and geographical context, so if you don't mind sharing your age and location, that would be cool. Thanks.