Children (and Parents) of the Night

This Guardian article about grown-up Goths has been making the rounds:

What happens when a teenage goth grows up? Gets a job, takes on a mortgage, has a couple of kids…? Can you combine elaborate Frankenstein make-up and a lace-up bustier with getting a toddler ready for nursery and yourself to work on time?

Dr Paul Hodkinson, deputy head of Surrey University’s sociology department and an expert in youth music subcultures, has been re-interviewing a group of goths he first studied in the late 1990s to find out. “They were teenagers and in their early 20s then, and I thought it would be interesting to go back because a number of people do stay involved in the goth scene,” he explains.

Though many people who belong to youth subcultures such as punk and rave tend to drift away in their 20s, Hodkinson says it’s more likely that older goths will want to remain involved in the scene, even though it may become harder to combine with the responsibilities that come with age.

To outsiders, it’s the visual markers of being a goth – long, dyed-black hair, black clothes, pale faces contrasted with dark, dramatic eye make-up –that stand out. Taken on their own, these characteristics might be reasonably easy to cast off. However, Hodkinson says that although the aesthetic and clothing are important, the primary tenets of involvement in this subculture mean being “thoroughly passionate about goth music and style, and some goths would tell you they have an interest in the dark side of life, and a natural tendency towards a degree of angst”.

This means a level of commitment to the goth scene, and friendship groups and identity that develop around being a goth, which result in social lives that “are so intertwined that it would feel very odd to leave it,” he says.

Continuing with education and getting a decent job while staying involved isn’t as hard for goths as it may be for those involved in other youth subcultures, some of which promote disengagement with school to the point that academic failure is all but inevitable.

“It’s a relatively middle-class subculture, so despite … all the going out and being into the music, goths have always had a fairly positive view of people who are also achieving academically.”

What’s most fascinating about the article is something that goes unmentioned. Namely, the contrasting attitude about Goths. Back in the day, we were portrayed as morbid delinquents obsessed with death, if not out-right Satanists. We were blamed for the Columbine Shooting and mocked for being friendless losers who write bad poetry.

Now, we’re the bastion of Middle Class values, hard workers, flexible and friendly, easily adaptable (hey, we recently discovered the color brown!) and, unlike other subcultures from the 80s and 90s, we stuck around and had kids. Some of us, anyway.

The reason for this is mentioned in the article: Goth’s value culture. Specifically those outdated fashions like literacy, appreciation for the arts and the craftsmanship of things that were built to last beyond the owner’s lifetime, let alone just for a season. The punks wanted to destroy the culture that was hindering them and the Preppies eventually got their fondest wish, and were absorbed into the collective, but the Goths remain because we adapt, borrow and create anew. It may be the motto of the Addams Family, but it serves just as well as a Goth raison d’etre:

Sic gorgiamus allos subiectatos nunc

“We gladly feast on those who would subdue us.”

California May Not Sink Into the Sea After All!

As Rogers put it, if you want to live in the 21 C, stand over here:

A federal judge in San Francisco decided today that gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry, striking down Proposition 8, the voter approved ballot measure that banned same-sex unions.

U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker said Proposition 8, passed by voters in November 2008, violated the federal constitutional rights of gays and lesbians to marry the partners of their choice. His ruling is expected to be appealed to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and then up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

This is going to be a popcorn muncher, to be sure. If SCOTUS punt and let the circuit court ruling stand, they get called activist judges by their right wing handlers from now until doomsday. Same if they hear the case and let the ruling stand. If they overturn it, they’ll have a hell of a time writing that decision in English that hasn’t been sent through the GTMO ringer.

Good on ya, California! Now: get rid of Schwarzenegger and start paying your librarians again. Chop chop!

Old Bachelor’s Delight

I’m off to spend the holiday weekend in a cabin on the side of Mount Hood with four other guys, drinking, smoking and eating. It’s all in celebration of Andy’s impending marriage to Colleen, so hijinks will most likely ensue. If you don’t hear form me by Monday, send help more beer.

Old Time Family Values

Today, Elvira and I celebrated our Seventh Wedding anniversary in that tried and true way couples have for years: we bought Guitar Hero III for the Wii and spent most of the afternoon making really loud (and bad) music. It was great! I have a whole new respect for CC Deville and Dave Peverett. Poison and Foghat songs are far more complex than music snobs like myself give them credit.

Last night we saw Across the Universe (another tradition; did you know that the Seventh Anniversary is Psychadelic Musicals featuring Beatles songs? Me either. I thought it was flatware or cotton sheets).  It was excelent. But then I’m always impressed by Julie Tamor, she has a really solid ans unique visual language and brings a lot of innovative staging technique from the theater. The scene with Max being drafted is amazing stuff. Highly recommended.

I think tonight I’m making dinner. That should be fun. Spaghetti and meatballs, all around!