Last Friday, I broke my glasses in a mosh pit.
Not only am I too old to be breaking my glasses in mosh pits, I’m old enough that I remember a time before mosh pits were called mosh pits.
Some explanation is needed.
On Friday I went to see X at Irving Plaza. I was never a huge fan, but I know someone who is, and figured it would be fun to see a show.
I was right. X is incredible live. Billy Zoom is an effortless guitar player, John Doe and Exene Cervenka have amazing vocal chemistry, and D.J. Bonebreake (hey, my band name was Bozo Foreskin) is a solid drummer. On record, X wasn’t hardcore enough for me as a kid. I preferred Black Flag, whose album Damaged spoke directly to my adolescent depressed self, and still speaks to my cranky grown-up self from time to time. What X lacks in emotional catharsis they make up for with raw energy. I never really got this from their records. Live, I got it.
So much so that I dove into the pit. With my glasses on. Within seconds, said glasses went flying to the floor.
Undaunted, I kept thrashing around, banging into people, pushing, shoving, and having a great time. I was reminded of the last time I was in a pit at Irving Plaza, 25 years ago, seeing The Meatmen. A few differences: Back then, we called it slam-dancing or slamming, which was something you did in a pit, not a mosh pit. Also, I get winded a lot faster now. Last but not least, back then I was smart enough to wear contact lenses.
When the song ended, I pulled out my keychain light and aimed it at the floor. Someone asked what I was looking for; I made “glasses” with my hands and put them over my eyes. Incredibly, someone found my specs, which had survived, minus one lens. I have no idea who this person was because I can’t see a fucking thing without optical assistance. Seriously. Bats laugh at me. So, whoever you are, thank you. Much appreciated.
Right after I reacquired my half-functional frames with their single refracted lens, I saw two people roll out of the pit together, and continue to grapple on the floor near me. My glasses were safely in my pocket, so it took a moment to realize that these were two women, and that they were fighting. Once again I jumped in, joining a couple of folks to break up the melee. After all, slamming (or what the kids today call “moshing”) isn’t about hurting people. It’s about carving out space for yourself while getting knocked around.
To my surprise, I wasn’t terribly upset about what happened. I’m due for an eye exam and had been recently told that my prescription was too strong, which no doubt helped to ease my pain. Still, even without that fact, I knew that I just needed to get in the pit, glasses be damned. Sure, I was out of breath in a minute. (Literally. Embarrassing but true.) Yes, I’m currently wearing old glasses with the wrong prescription. But if felt so good to jump around, to fight for space again. It was (mostly) worth it.
Despite what my kids say, there are people in the world older than me, including the members of X. They still play as fast as ever, putting on a great show. Certain things about being a punk don’t age well. The fashions, the anger, the snotty ‘tude. But the music can still work its magic. So can a good pit.
Besides, my doctor said I needed more exercise.
(On a related note, this book is worth reading: Punk Rock Dad: No Rules, Just Real Life by Jim Lindberg, former lead singer of Pennywise.)
Photo by Brett Singer, © 2011