Long ago, I read an article in The New York Rocker daring to suggest that salvation could be found in the locations some of us frequented in our desperation to find release in rock 'n roll. Could a kind of saint, or perhaps even Jesus himself be discovered in these dives?
I was one of their patrons, moving back and forth in the strange dialectic of its time from the conservative restrictions of a corporate secretarial job to the weekend exhilaration of the thumping, dissonant, arrogant insistence of what has since been condensed into the word 'punk.' At first blush, there was only the largely indifferent population of students from the nearby learning institution, but the jukebox melody that was a favorite captured my imagination, promising much more. I moved through this bar, and eventually more, in an inevitable dreamlike state. Here was the ignored underbelly of daily routine, both the fear and fantasy of what might take its place. The music gave us certainty. If we were bold enough, we devoured it; it made us all stalkers of the unknown.
In the long history of the Church, desert monastics searched through empty days, finding in this silent focus evidence of spiritual oases. The redemption elaborated by saints was a withdrawal from the world, a hermetic ism that promised security if only we could face away from urgency.
In the exact obverse, we went defenseless. In our determination, we trampled what was expected in order to encounter life head on. The surprises that ensued changed history, and is always the case, this groundswell only reached public awareness after the initial excitement had transformed itself into philosophical and artistic statement. The discovery of anyone living on this edge was the excitement of the edge itself in all its excitement, and our desert was a romantic insistence on crossing over its boundary. If one was in despair, one need only be bold enough to take a final risk of living or dying.
Covered in glitter and dog poo, we had our sadhus, those who had given up on convention. What had become a self-conscious construction of trendiness was eradicated by defiant guitar chords, insulting in their spontaneity. In our intoxicated fandom, we crowded around these stages, looking for the spark of redemption.