Punk be thy name

Ransom Riggs

It all started with a few bands and one little radical youth culture movement in the 1970s -- today, though, punk has proliferated everywhere, sprouting a seemingly endless number of sub-genres and -cultures, the differences between which, for most of us, are subtle at best. I can't run through every style of punk here (you could fill a book) but I want to touch on at least a few that I have known.

Gutter punk
Unlike other types of punk, gutters are known more for their lifestyle than for adhering to one or another subgenre of punk music. Rather, they're the punks you see living on the street, aggressively bumming for change (and getting a bit snippy when denied). Dreadlocks and mohwaks are popular, as are nose rings, "sleeves" of tattoos, and accessorizing with dogs is also common. (I see a lot of cardboard signs that say things like "Need $ for beer & dog food," for instance; always a sympathy-getter!) While often described as "voluntarily" (and sometimes "militantly") unemployed, many struggle with mental illness, just like regular homeless people.

Redneck punk
Growing up in Florida, I knew a few: strictly punk in terms of musical tastes (tending toward the hardest, fastest stuff) and hairstyle, their clothes were often a giveaway; a mohawked guy in greasy overalls? Definitely a redneck punk. (By the way, if you haven't seen my article on the origins of hairstyles, including the mohawk, check it out.) My friend Jordan was one: he worked at a pig farm during by day, sought out alcohol and mosh pits by night. (Needless to say, he a was a fragrant dude.)

Straight Edge
I knew straight edge kids in high school, but haven't met any in years. They're anarchy-loving punks who don't drink, smoke, do drugs or have casual sex (usually), and could sometimes be identified by black x's magic markered on the backs of their hands, or a by a frequently-made x-shaped crossing-of-the-arms gesture. Some were also vegetarians or vegans -- definitely an aberration amongst the red meat-loving punks that I knew. But where have all the straight-edgers gone? Let us know if you know one, or are one!

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What kind of punk are you?