31 May 2013


Twelve Things about The Other F Word

12. What do you do when you are famous for writing a song called F*** Authority and then you become the foremost authority figure in your own home? This is precisely the question that The Other F Word asks Jim Lindberg, father and lead singer of Punk band Pennywise, and several of his contemporaries who are in the same bemusing boat.

11. What came first: the chicken of extended adolescence or the egg of middle-aged rockers? Let's ask New Romantic band Duran Duran, who are working on their fourteenth studio album as of this date. Old men in rock bands may be a new phenomenon, but something else refuses to grow old with them . . . A few years ago, when I mentioned their longevity to a musicologist friend, who has also built a career in the arts, she wasn't too impressed. If I remember correctly, the word she used for them was "pathetic."

But perhaps she was being ironic? There is something "pathetic" about making your living through music instead of getting a "real job"--and surely she would know that, too. No matter how much money you do make--and hard and honestly you work--it just stops being cute after you pass a certain age. (Heck, everything stops being cute after you pass a certain age.)

10. So let's talk about those F words, shall we? I mean the fathers . . .

We start with Lindberg because his struggle to balance wholesome family life with the demands of a Punk Rock job is the backbone of the whole documentary. At first, the contrast is played up for laughs. Isn't it just so adorable when a singer who regularly incites audiences to hold up their middle fingers to the world can't say no when his youngest daughter asks him to take one of her Barbie dolls with him on tour?

But soon it becomes evident that he has better things to worry about than what the rest of the band will think about Barbie. His eldest daughter has told him that she doesn't like all the touring he has to do to support their family, and he has realised he doesn't like it much, either. But what is a responsible breadwinner with no other marketable skills to do?

9. Pennywise may get the most attention as a band, but that doesn't mean that we get to hear from all the members. Lindberg doesn't badmouth his friends, but he does imply that the two band members who don't have their own families have never really grown up. (It's a harsh portrayal, but from what I know of musicians, I totally buy it.) In short, the children he has at home aren't nearly as demanding as the children he has to work with and feels equally responsible for. But at least the former have a shot at maturity.

8. Predictably, most of the songs featured in The Other F Word include the F word. And you know, it makes a lot of sense. After all, the original F word leads to the other F word--a fact that has been grossing children out since time immemorial. I'll bet that when Mark Hoppus of Blink 182 wrote the song Family Reunion . . .

. . . he didn't fully grasp that the classy line, "I f***ed your mom" would be something he could taunt his own son with. (LOL!

7. Lyrics are just fun and games compared to tattoos. You can claim the time stamp when it comes to stuff you've said or written, but body art is something else. Many things that we do in our youth have consequences that we must bear for the rest of our lives . . . but they're not always so evident. Tattoos remind us that we can't pretend the things we once did no longer matter just because we've finally outgrown them.

But what if we haven't outgrown them? Fat Mike of NOFX may admit that he has no clue how to explain "these two dominatrixes on my arm . . . tied up and with a ball gag" to his four year old daughter--but given what her equally inked mother does for a living (and what both of them do in their spare time), the body art is the least of their worries.

6. If we can't sweep our youthful foibles under the rug of respectability, we can still be tempted to rationalise them. Although Lars Fredericksen of Rancid muses that tattooing his forehead (along with his arms, his neck, and other assorted body parts) might not have been the best idea in the world, he says that they are turning out to be a good thing for his son, who will learn not to judge other people by appearances. That may be so, but to say that positive outcomes against great odds absolve the original actions would be to justify the kind of childhoods they themselves had.

5. I shouldn't have been so surprised that the majority of these Punk Rock Dads (Name that reference!) grew up without their own fathers around and suffered deeply from the loss.  

Sometimes it wasn't merely a matter of not having a good authority figure around. As Art Alexakis of Everclear explains, the song Father of Mine was based on the time some older boys in his rough neighbourhood raped him. When boys run in feral packs like that, it's usually because their own fathers abandoned them or just never checked up on them. Alexakis wrote a reproach for an entire generation.

4. Yet the sons who lost their fathers aren't half as heartbreaking as the fathers who lost their sons. I have no words.

3. The Other F Word features not just musicians but also professional skateboarders and BMX bikers--other counter-cultural figures associated with the Punk Rock movement, who may be a little "pathetic" now, too. (Well, skateboarding when you're forty does seem sad. But I'm working on being more open-minded.)

2. Lindberg is cast as a kind of conscience to the Punk movement, so when The Other F Word ends with him saying that he is no longer trying to change the world by writing good Punk songs, but by raising good children, that seems to be the final moral to the story. You can't serve Punk music and your family at the same time: case closed.

This ending is the weakest link in the documentary, and it has had to claim the time stamp, too. For even before The Other F Word was released, Lindberg had started recording music and touring with a new Punk band called The Black Pacific . . . and about a year later, he announced that he was rejoining Pennywise. See? Some things are totally like tattoos! I demand a sequel. =P

1. And just when you thought I had stopped writing about converts from Evangelical churches . . . Did I have you fooled or what? Bwahahahahahahahahahaha! Can we have that other documentary about disillusioned convert-apologists now, please?

Image Source: a) The Other F Word poster


Sullivan McPig said...

I don't think it's ever pathetic to do something you love no matter your age. I worked at a home for the elderly when I was 17 and there was one lady of 70+ who shaved her head because she liked it that way and was passionate about life and living it. She wasn't pathetic at all, but an example to me to live my life with passion and to do the things I love no matter if it's cool or not in the eyes of others.

Entropy said...

I love that you wrote about this!

I didn't do any research after watching it, so I didn't know that Jim re-joined Pennywise. So disappointing.

Might be something to do with marketable skills? Maybe the 9-5 life was not quite exciting enough. All the questions that he asked are still there and his girls are only getting older and presumably needing more parenting, not less.

I loved the p-rocker that quit and moved to Canada to raise his kids (what was his name?) and how much he loved being there for them.

DMS said...

I agree with Sullivan. Do what you enjoy, no matter the age! Great post- thanks! I love the line about taunting his son with the lyrics- lol. ~ Jess

Enbrethiliel said...


Sully -- When I used the word "pathetic," I meant it the way (I believe) my friend did--ironically. And I was basing it on the comments from the Punk rockers themselves. Lindberg has said that he is really tired of touring all the time and couldn't believe it when he finally "sold out" to a big record label because he genuinely needed the money. In a funnier vein, Mark Hoppus has cut at least one popular Blink 182 song from all future set lists because he doesn't want to be singing about "jerking off" in his late thirties and beyond. (LOL!!!)

We might also say that these musicians were misled by the music industry of their youth, when bands could do most of their touring at the beginning of their career and (mostly) live off savings and album royalties afterwards. Perhaps if they had seen twenty years ago what the music scene would be like today, they would have chosen other careers. But now they're as stuck as the rest of us with ordinary 9-to-5 jobs.

Entropy -- It was probably my favourite post to write this month! =D Thanks again for recommending The Other F Word.

I'm not that surprised that Lindberg went back to Pennywise. When he talked about his other prospects at the end of the documentary, they didn't seem very promising. And based on what I know of the US economy, it couldn't have been easy for him to find a "regular" job doing something else. But perhaps now that the rest of the band know what it's like to tour without him, they won't insist on a schedule that he finds too demanding. Win-win?

Do you mean Ron Reyes, formerly of Black Flag? I liked him, too. =) He is now in a new band, playing some local venues; and in an interview last year, he said he hoped to do some gigging in L.A. again. (If his work history on Wikipedia is accurate, then I doubt he has been between bands for very long since he left Black Flag. Which doesn't surprise me: as I said, I don't think this kind of thing ever goes away.) But what Reyes is doing now is likely more low-key than the scene he left, and so more "sustainable."

DMS -- Thanks, Jess! =D

I agree wholeheartedly with the idea that we shouldn't give up our passions, but what The Other F Word has shown me is that if we also have to make a living for them--and can't stop even for much needed breaks because others are dependent on us--then they stop being fun very fast!

Hey! Look Behind You! said...

I saw the trailer for this a very long time ago and forgot about it. Now I have to see it!

Enbrethiliel said...


I highly recommend it! =D