Here’s the proof that I’ve had the same haircut since the age of 16. That’s how old I am in this picture. This is also confirmation that I am in fact a hippie. You can have a hardy-har laugh at my expense. I’ll still twirl around the woods and weave a squirrel’s nest on your head. Why? Because I can. Because I’m wearing a Jasta 14 shirt. Because I was in the New Haven Hardcore scene. Jasta 14 was the precursor for Hatebreed – which shows my age more than my street cred.
I guess you call me a hardcore hippie. I never particularly cared for the music of hardcore (I was a jazz nerd secretly obsessed with Pharaoh Sanders) just the men. That why I went to the concerts and collected the t-shirts. I had mix tapes, demos, CD’S, sweatshirts, buttons but never a hardcore boyfriend. Sniff, sniff. Cue the pity-party concerto. It wasn’t because I couldn’t get one – it was because the guys were terrified of my friends. If heartbreak ensured, heads would be broken. The hardcore scene was a bigger chastity belt then the Catholic high school I attended. But that’s okay, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
When people talk about being picked on in high school, I somehow draw a blank. Lucky for me I went to school with cool-ass people who had cool-ass brothers that played in these bands (shout out to Keri and Rich). These friends had more friends – and all friends made it very clear that if anyone had a problem with me and my 9 braided necklaces, they would enjoy the process of kicking their ass.
Ass-kicking was an art form back then. Mosh-pits were not fully mashed until half of pint of blood covered the floor. Drop-kicks came from the top of ceiling high speakers – and no one – I mean no one – felt that they had to take on a fight alone. That’s the best thing about growing up in New Haven, loyalty meant something. I always wanted an older brother and in New Haven I had 20 of them. In the mid-90’s the city had one of the highest murder per capital rates in the United States. Yet I didn’t worry about it. I had 5 heads behind me who always had my back. I wish kids got that kind of protection today. Knowing you don’t have to fight because people will fight for you – gave me a tremendous sense of safety and freedom.
I was a heavy smoker at the age of 16. My friends and I would buy them out of vending machines at the bars we would sneak into. There’s nothing like flat beer, moldy nachos and 2 packs of Camels to make you feel like you’re living the life. Truth be told, I was trying to pull off a beatnik lifestyle but looking at that disco-paisley shirt, I was a bit off the mark. Thank God for New Haven and my shit-kicking friends. I would have totally gotten my ass kicked if I was in high school today.