Saturday, June 30, 2007

Punk Tantra

We usually write and post as a team, but this one is just from Mark. These are some preliminary thoughts on a subject that probably deserves to be explored in more depth. Punk Tantra may seem like an oxymoron to some, but my Tantric sensibility was shaped by my involvement in Punk. Just as we started getting active on myspace, I received a couple of CDs of material my first college band, The Relaxors, recorded in 1978 or '79 in Ann Arbor and learned that our old manager had set up a page for the band. When the package arrived I had already added a few of my favorite groups to our friends list. It was an odd sycnchronicity, and it encouraged me not only to revist my roots but also to dig through my archives. Some of the material I find may show up on the Relaxors page in the near future.

Patti Smith's Bottom Line show in December of 1975 was a life-changing experience for me. I'd seen plenty of rock bands by that time but had never experienced something of such transcendent power. About a month later I ventured into CBGBs, where Television and Talking Heads were on the bill. I knew I had found a home. This was before the crowds there got huge, and before Punk got codified, either as fashion or as a sonic style. Back then the scene was diverse, tolerant and accepting. I had the sense that we were all outsiders seeking freedom from received social norms -- whether musical, social or political. We were seeking intense experience, or as Patti Smith put it:

"I seek pleasure. I seek the nerves under your skin.The narrow archway; the layers; the scroll of ancient letters.
We worship the flaw, the belly, the belly, the mole on the belly of an exquisite whore.
He spared the child and spoiled the rod. I have not sold myself to God."

Anyway, Tantra. It's really the same thing. No need to sell yourself to God when you can find God inside yourself, but I digress. Contrary to popular myth, Tantra's got very little to do with sexual technique, and it's certainly not all new-age sweetness and light. It's about finding the divine through experience, wherever you are, including in the gutter. And those transcendent moments in the dirty dank and sweaty rock 'n' roll clubs in New York, Detroit and Ann Arbor were truly Tantric. The ego dissolved, and I became one with the sound.

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