Halloween Music

I’m enjoying listening to the Dead Kennedy’s “Halloween” tonight, especially the following bits:

So it’s Halloween
And you feel like dancin’
And you feel like shinin’
And you feel like letting loose

Whatcha gonna be
Babe, you better know
And you better plan
Better plan all day

Better plan all week
Better plan all month
Better plan all year


Why not every day
Are you so afraid
What will people say

After Halloween

Because your role is planned for you
There’s nothing you can do
But stop and think it through
But what will the boss say to you

And what will your girlfriend say to you
And the people out on the street they might glare at you
And whaddaya know you’re pretty self-conscious too

I’m celebrating my 40th birthday this year on Halloween (I was born on November 1), and I’m excited about it, but it’s also kind of a big milestone that’s got me looking back.

I first heard the Dead Kennedys when I was 9th grade — can that be right? Yes, that’s got to be right — and man, they were scary, and they were cool as hell. There was a mix tape that made the rounds and got duplicated and reduplicated, with Black Flag, Government Issue, Black Market Baby, and the Dead Kennedys, and it was garbled and hissy and recorded from a vinyl LP so there was a brief scratch and skip in “Trust Your Mechanic” that I still miss every time I hear the version I have now, and the climactic fantasy moments from “Riot” and “Forest Fire” were the first times I realized that music could do that energizing, subversive stuff, and the ominous bass melodies for “Holiday in Cambodia” and “I Am the Owl” were like nothing I’d ever hear until Primus, and I’ll still contend that the opening guitar riff for “Government Flu” is one of the best and most underrated in all of rock ‘n roll, up there with Suicidal Tendencies’ “The Miracle.” So yeah: back then, at a virginal 13, this was wicked-scary, dangerous, very cool stuff, as tinny and hissy as it was on that Maxell Gold cassette.

And I still like it, thinking back on my skinny nerdy self 27 years later, not as skinny but still plenty nerdy, gone from spiky hair to mullet to bleached mullet to fat mohawk to long hair to spiky again and then to the crew cut and finally to the shaved head: not really punk now, no.

Why not every day
Are you so afraid
What will people say

After Halloween

But I guess I was punk once.

Halloween Music

5 thoughts on “Halloween Music

  • October 22, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    Hey, especially since I went off facebook and will miss the birthday reminder (man, those are convenient), Happy Birthday in advance! ūüôā Hope you have a great one.

  • October 28, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    Happy B-Day Mike. If only I were able to give you a “Johhny was a Racecar Driver” impersonation in person to help you celebrate. Have a good 40th! And Happy Halloween.

  • November 3, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    For me, it was seventh grade and a casette of DK’s “Bedtime for Democracy.” Ah, memories.

    Happy birthday.

  • December 27, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    No, you weren’t punk . Remember what Sid Vicious said: “There are no real punks. Only short term poseurs and long term poseurs.”

    -From another recent 40 year old.

  • February 27, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    Hello, Mike. I hope you’re the right person! I don’t navigate wordpress well. If you’re the one who posted the entry on a book collection, and your great grandmother was Janet Irvine, do please let me know — I’d love to talk books and great+ grandfathers with you, though Knowing Aunt Janet was your great grandmother makes me feel so ooooooold. I too remember her reminiscences about camping out in the Presidio. Janet was my mother’s aunt — my grandmother was Elinor Klink, her younger sister.

    Do please email, or just check into my journal for an lj message. If it’s not the correct person, I see you are/were in Afghanistan, and wish you the best in your generation’s war. –Sandy Amesley

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