Today, I was pondering this past Sunday’s shocking and exciting experience of meeting hardcore punk legend, Ian MacKaye. Not that there should be any heroes or legends associated with punk music, since all of that kinda goes against the idea of being “anti-establishment” in the first place, but I digress. At 16 years old, I was growing up within an already well established underground music scene in Connecticut. Our scene was at least 10 years later and 316 miles further from when/where Ian had been an integral part in, unknowingly, starting an east coast “hardcore” movement with his first band (Teen Idles) in Washington D.C. Throughout the 80’s (and beyond), he continued to help forge the DIY ethic into the D.C. scene by creating, releasing and promoting his own bands, booking tours and basically making up the rules as he went along. It was Ian (and his band Minor Threat) who had actually coined the term “straight-edge” (which later became a lifestyle that meant abstaining from abuses such as promiscuous sex, smoking cigarettes, drug use and drinking alcohol). In addition, Ian was very outspoken on global topics concerning the consumption of animal products, violence and corporate greed; which, coming from most other punks during that time, was usually just a lot of “hot air” coming out of the mouths of intoxicated teenagers, wearing spray-painted leather jackets and looking for trouble. But not Ian, he lived by his words, persisted and transformed all of it into real action and a truly alternative lifestyle which became infectious to angst-driven youth. Simply by listening to music and ideas born from his scene, it influenced thousands of others outside of D.C. to follow in his footsteps and start their own bands and scenes. His (kick-ass!) bands like Teen Idles, Minor Threat, Embrace, Fugazi; his independent record label “Dischord” (which accounts for at least 1/4 of my entire record collection)…all of that hard work started an entire movement right up the east coast; eventually landing on my turntable and changing the direction of my life.
Of course, unless you were involved in hardcore yourself, you’d probably ask me something like “who the hell is that guy? To which I’d probably just respond, “never mind”. Even still, I cannot shake the thought of meeting him. I suppose it’s somewhat common to meet public figures that you admire, that is, if you’re actually seeking them out (at a concert, event, etc). But…I basically bumped into this guy ever so randomly. It was 5:30pm on a Sunday at a small health store in the town of Guilford, CT (where I live). The store was about to close and there were 3 cars in the parking lot. My wife and I ran in to grab some last minute items, she grabbed a basket and went one way and I went directly to the produce section. I was standing across a table from another gentleman, looking through a pile of Avocados, searching for just the right amount of ripe, when I finally looked up and realized who it was. Now, the odds of me meeting, i don’t know, Tom Cruise, Lady Gaga or maybe even Burt Reynolds would have been much greater. Why, you ask? Because none of those people, even given how well known they are to the rest of the world, have ever added anything meaningful to my life, nor would I give two shits to meet them in person. But, out of all the people on earth that could have been in this store, what invisible force put the both of us in that room together? Was it strictly coincidence with an extremely low probability? Was it “fate”? I will never know this. But the more I ponder it, I can somehow connect the dots of my most important beliefs and morals back to him. He was so very crucial and absolutely relevant to my growing up the way I did and overcoming some really rough times in my life (which I cannot strongly say about my education, most of my teachers or hell, even my own parents). I would not have a blog about Veganism and Juicing; I would not have been interested in Writing; I would not have been interested in Graphic Design; I would not have had much of the “common sense”, independent and compassionate thinking that I have accumulated throughout my years in the hardcore scene. And if there was anyone that I should have ever thanked for that, it would have been Ian MacKaye. It’s too bad I didn’t realize it until the day after I met him.