Shout Outs – Part 3

August 2nd, 2009

I was a geek in junior high, years before being a geek was cool.  And, of course, nowadays people make a distinction between being a geek and being a nerd.  Back in the day, it was six of one and half a dozen of the other, unless you were actually one of the geeks or nerds.

So I was a geeky kid, but folks around me just assumed since I had some nerd qualities, I must have all of them.  So, for example (and the topic of this shout-out), they assumed I must like classical music exclusively.

To be honest, by seventh grade, which is when this specific event happened, I didn’t have *any* musical tastes.  I just didn’t really listen to music.  Sure, classical was fine, but it was just background music my parents listened to in the car.  But to those around me, it seemed patently obvious that I must love Mozart and despise anything written by any musicians in the last 100 years.

So one of my classmates did something which I’m sure he meant to be “bullying”, but for which I have to be eternally grateful: he lent me a tape of the SubHuMans, a UK anarcho-punk band.

They rock.

That wasn’t the reaction the guy was expecting, of course.  He expected to shock and disgust the classical purist priss.  He wanted revulsion.  Problem is, he was working off a nerd stereotype that didn’t apply to me.  Fact is, I loved the tape immediately.  It was a completely new type of music for me, something that I would never hear on the radio or on TV.  I loved the crunchy guitars, the angry Brit vocals, the energy.  The guy who lent me the tape didn’t believe it at first, and thought I was just hiding my dislike for the music, but eventually realized I actually liked the music as I started asking him to make copies of his Dead Kennedys tapes.

In the end, he went the opposite direction: after he realized that I liked a lot of the same music as he did (punk and industrial), he started hiding the names of the bands from me, worried that I’d take a liking to them too.  But the damage was done: I’d gotten my introduction to a bunch of non-mainstream music, and realized that, while I had no interest in the top-40 stuff on the radio, I actually really liked music.  A year later, I was tuning in KTRU on my alarm-clock radio.

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