Sad in Plaid
NOT OFFICIALLY POSTED YET! If you're seeing this, you've found this before I've finished adding the bits & pieces that occurred to me since I pushed "post." Come back later. Or not. Or read now, and compare later. Do what you want. I'm not the boss of you. But be aware that this is more unfinished than it will be when I finally stop revising it.
Pre-script (zero-rst off?): I have many other subjects in mind for this blog that are NOT Bosstones-related. It's just turning out that way lately. I swear, there will be SOMEthing else subject-wise, sooner or later. And this one, while Bosstones-adjacent and catalyzed, for sure, is going to be all over the map.
First off, I want to state for the record, carved in stone, that I have always loved plaid.
The earliest favorite article of clothing that I can recall was a plaid dress in mostly green when I was in kindergarten. Yeah, it had some white frilly trim because "girl" clothes in the mid '70s, but I loved that dress. Through the following 20+ years before I got into the Bad in Plaid band, I had many many favorite plaid and "Buffalo" plaid (we called that checkered or checked back in the day) shirts and such.
It only recently occurred to me that plaid is a great way to get a bunch of colors into an outfit without having to go floral or feminine. Nothing wrong with feminine, it's just never been a big factor in my "style."
I also loved Converse All-Star Chuck Taylor hi-top sneakers long before I got into punk, and long before I knew the Mighty Mighty Bosstones had done a commercial for them. At some point in my college years, I wore a Chucks-style licensed Tasmanian Devil pair until they started to fall apart. I still have them. I have a notion to fill them with something weighty and turn them into bookends one of these days. And I've always loved Doc Martens but have had fewer pairs of those over the years because money and versatility - I feel like I can wear Chucks more months out of the year, and have scored most of mine through serious bargains. Docs, not so much for summertime, and always at a price that makes me think. It was a great joy to buy a special pair of multiple plaid / gradient Docs not too long ago and to notice several Bosstones wearing them at the following Throwdown.
Even if I never fell in love with the ground-breaking ska-core band of Boston, my wardrobe would undoubtedly feature plaid and Chucks and Docs. But in loving the Bosstones – and committing to seeing as many of their shows as possible – well, that was my the green light to Lean In to the plaid aesthetic.
Here's a sampling…I coulda kept going, and took pics of pairs of pants, capris, lots of scarves, sheets, blankets, etc….
(I have decided, in assembling these photos, that my plaids really need a whole post of their own.)
Converse hi-tops and low-cuts, Doc Martens in classic shapes and less common, Payless Converse knock-offs, and of course a pair of Vans. Jackets, long-sleeve shirts, sleeveless, camisoles, tank tops. Autumn jacket and Winter coat… And now I don't know what to do with ALL of them..
Because the Mighty Mighty Bosstones as a band are no more, as of around 3pm EST on January 27, 2022.
It sucks, a lot. Their music helped get me through a lot of the very very shitty 3+ years leading up to the pandemic (car accident / mTBI / PCS). Knowing they started making new music in 2020 mitigated some depression and anxiety through the pandemic, as did tickets to see the show that would end up being their last.
It was such an excellent show, too. They played their cover of "I Can See Clearly Now" and it felt like it was just for me. I wish I'd stuck around at the rail to say "hey" to Dicky. But I wasn't sure he'd come out, and I'd drifted from a bunch of friends in all the up-front smooshing around & wanted to re-join them… y'know, before going off to re-join my other friends, the ones I'd brought to the last Throwdown and who'd decided hell yes, they wanted to see more Bosstones shows. About 10 seconds after I peeled away from my rail-spot, he was at the rail, right where I'd been. Alas.
I am super grateful to each member of the band for everything they gave the world. All the albums, so many jaw-droppingly amazing songs, 31 live shows I got to see, and a sense of brotherhood, community and camaraderie that they encouraged their audience to spread far and wide.
I have no intention of ceasing to wear plaid, but… I also don't think I need quite so much of it, without more MMB shows to look forward to. Want some plaid? Not all of it is available, but if you see something you like in those pics, let me know. I was already looking to re-home the lowest step of shoes before the news dropped.
So there's a lot of extra feels in the community about the breakup. It was sudden. Unexpected, particularly with a new (so fucking good) album to promote and actual shows scheduled (now canceled). It *appeared* like it might be … not exactly amicable. Rumors about why started to fly.
On twitter (Note: I'd only recently returned to twiter after taking a loooong break from the addictiveness and toxicity that sucks time and drains the will to live), I watched someone single-handedly self-inflate their own confirmation bias as they made sure everyone posting about the Bosstones heard the speculations… Over the hours growing to push those speculations off as fact even tho' there had not been any further evidence than when they first started spreading it.
In partly-related news, I'm taking another break from twitter.
Eventually and sadly, the speculative reason was confirmed, at least to some degree, a few weeks later.
I'm not going to state the reasons here. If you want to know, it's not hard to find out. But until that confirmation point, and to some much smaller, tiny degree still now, I suspect it's at least a little more complicated than it appeared & even than what's been confirmed.
In retrospect, some of the new songs should have been a tip-off. But Barrett often writes and sings from not-his or not-exactly-his POV, or with multiple meanings, and encourages listeners to bring their own interpretation into it. "I Don't Believe in Anything" is back & forth between two perspectives. Before all this, some might have assumed which voice aligned more with his own. Now… well. Y'know what they say about assuming…
In the Ska and Bosstones online communities I participate in, The Reasons made for some complicated grief and created some friction among friends and fellow fans. And even some noisy-muck-flinging at band members – from both 'sides' of The Reasons (Yikes, I got no time for that kind of noise, from either 'side.' Let the band alone, people. Splatter your thoughts out on your own post or blog. Y'know like I'm doing here!). I've even seen a few use The Reasons to make some pretty wiggedy-wack assumptions about the politics & voting of some band members, which struck me as profoundly oblivious at best. Like, did you even listen to While We're at It? I won't assume we'd all agree on every damn thing or all the finer points, but among the things that made me love the Bosstones even more was some fairly obvious 'political' content.
Sure, people change, particularly if hanging around a new crowd, but there was some seriously onerous reaching crawling around. Because internet. :p
Anyway, From here, I'm just going to barf up some paragraphs and statements and those inclined can connect any dots not connected as they see fit.
None of this rambling rant is directed at any one person: it's primarily a collection of reactions to the various things I've seen in comment threads the past few weeks. I don't have an editor and I just want to clear this out of my head and get it done so I can move on to working on a short story for an anthology submission with an impending deadline.
I absolutely love the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and absolutely wish the very best for each and every one of them, and for their families and friends.
It is possible to disagree with, be disappointed in, or even be angry with someone, or over some action they took, without hating them. Certain kinds of participants on the internet like to call any and every possible criticism 'hate,' and wield that label as a bludgeon to shut down any kind of discussion. They do it to manipulate and elicit a more dramatic emotional response that, to them, is further evidence of 'hate.' I don't have time for that kind of bullshit noise.
These are often the same folks who fling a sarcastic "still wearing a mask?" or "when you getting your next booster shot?" – out of nowhere or as a clever retort, the perfect image of a third-grade bully making fun of someone for doing the homework. If this is you, y'all need some remedial science classes, grown-up social & communication skills, and to put on your big-boy pants at the very very very least.
They might as well be sneering at designated drivers, or blowing through red lights because they erroneously think they drive better than everyone else. Knowing these people exist makes me wear a mask even beyond recommendations, to help compensate for those too absurdly contrary & bloody-minded to know better.
In a way, The Reasons for the breakup speak to the pervasiveness of the conspiracy-prone alternative-facts anti-science crowd. It's evidence that nobody is completely inoculated from having their ears bend and inclinations pushed towards the wiggedy-wack. A little part of me kinda gets it. Like, hey, years ago, I myself was skeptical of the flu vaccine.
Luckily, I since learned how this stuff actually works, about asymptomatic transmission, etc… – from actual experts and widely accepted medical recommendation - not just 'opinion.' And NOT from, say, a small percentage minority with suggestions based on discredited and unethical studies – a fringe faction who knows how to inflate and manipulate online search results to make themselves appear legit & more popular than they actually are.
Unless someone's in a medical program working on an immunology study and it's been peer-reviewed and published, personal "own research" doesn't cut it.
It is not just a matter of opinion when one opinion is based on bad information and fiction. It is not freedom of choice when one choice increases the danger for everyone around the chooser. Choosing to ignore facts doesn't make them less true. As with flat-earthers, it's simply wrong. But at least flat-earthers are not endangering the health of those around them. Or, at least not their physical health.
"Opinions" are for things like pizza toppings. Anchovies vs pineapple. Vaccines & their efficacy are not even remotely pizza toppings, and are even less so during a pandemic.
The fact is that the willfully unvaccinated increase the risks for everyone they come in contact with, just as a drunk driver increases the risks for everyone sharing the same roads. They're not choosing risk levels only for themselves.
The right to swing your arms wildly ends at someone else's nose. The right to walk around unvaccinated in a fucking pandemic ends in public, sharing air with others, connecting to fellow humans. Circulating in crowds, getting on buses or planes, traveling to other countries.
We live in a complex society. The benefits of that complex society come at some cost, and that cost includes paying dues and deference to the common welfare of those around us.
In short: We're supposed to take care of each other.
Ignoring facts and falling for bad information doesn't take precedence over that. And it isn't cool, or 'punk rock.' It's not 'punk rebellion' to reject science and a vaccine during a pandemic. Too many appear to define freedom in much the same way a 14-year-old grounded for taking a dump center stage in the middle of the school play would.
Too many doubt science and reject facts in the same way that the grade school bully who just doesn't understand it would. It's a frightening and dangerous trend cultivated over the past few decades, come to a head.
The truly strong consider their whole community. A true punk attitude rejects treating those around us as lesser, as undeserving of our protection, or disposable because they're older or have asthma or are undergoing cancer treatment or some other "pre-existing condition."
For the record: I absolutely acknowledge that there are allergies and legit medical reasons for some people not to get this vaccine or others. That this is a thing makes it all the more reason why everyone who can get it should get it.
Also for the record: I do have issues with 'Big Pharma' (another phrase thrown around as if it should have the power to shut down any discussion). But battling the COVID-19 virus has been a bigger, more immediate problem for, like, two fucking years now. I don't know where we lost the concepts of context and perspective and nuance, but … wow. I really hope we can get those back.
Choosing to not get vaccinated isn't 'sticking it to big pharma' – fixing that is going to take a whole lot more work, so roll up your sleeves – instead, it's sticking it to everyone – by increasing the danger to everyone. By giving the virus more and better opportunities to transmit and mutate. More people getting it means more people in the hospital with it, which then means fewer hospital beds and fewer medical services for people who need them for other reasons.
The 'system' these folks think they're rebelling against is actually trying to save lives here, and reduce harm. It's not a perfect system, and government and pharma and medical industries (and, well, all industries) need oversight. Always. But FFS, it's a pandemic, people. Get some fcuking perspective.
And, among so many other things, I see folks using the vaccines' lack of 100% bullet-proof efficacy to add fuel to the anti-vax fire. Nobody ever promised the vaccine would make everything perfect, and the best of expectations relied on more people getting it, and sooner, and more wide-spread, before more mutations and variants rose. Not this well-vaccinated in some states and wildly-super-spreading in others clusterfuck we ended up with.
If someone thinks the vaccines are not worth it because vaccinated folks can still get the virus and transmit it, then the flaw is in their expectations and understanding, not in the vaccines. It reduces risk, it reduces severity, it reduces transmission, it reduces hospitalizations. It reduces harm.
Saying "people can still get it / people can still transmit it" even if they're vaccinated is like saying "sober people can cause accidents, too, not just drunk drivers."
Lack of understanding is not a valid basis for opinions. Not when there's facts from experts and the knowledgeable.
They make fun of those vaccinated for 'trusting blindly' when all they've done is put their own blind trust into a different reasoning – a very very shoddy and shady excuse for reasoning at that.
For the record, I don't need to have a personal connection to someone affected to have empathy and compassion for them. But as it turns out, I do in fact have a few personal reasons for taking this shit very very very fucking seriously.
I am the granddaughter of someone who, 100+ years ago, lost her entire family - parents and 2 siblings - to the 1918 flu pandemic. There's no way to know for sure, but I'd bet good money they'd welcome a vaccine that was even 50% as effective as the ones we're currently using to battle COVID-19.
The un-vaccinated might believe they're not a risk to others, but that blind belief doesn't make it so.
This isn't a matter of opinion, or a justification to whine that it's 'a free country'… because that increased risk is real. Putting trust and belief in some anti-vax snake-oil pseudo-science cult philosophy doesn't make the factual risk any less real. Believing the earth is flat doesn't make it factually flat.
That grandmother of mine lived well into her 90s, her mind still strong as time eventually took enough of a toll on her body. Along the way, she raised a family, kept a spotless house, crocheted countless afghans and doilies, tended a gorgeous garden, worked effectively every minute of every day… and took on even more work when my grandfather — a coal miner – could no longer work.
A few weeks ago, her oldest daughter, my aunt, passed away. She went into the hospital with something treatable, which was responding well to treatment. She, too, was a strong woman— a retired nurse who spent her life taking care of others. But she caught COVID at the hospital, and had a stroke (COVID increases the risk of stroke), and, well. The hospital wouldn't allow anyone any visitors. The rehab place (for the stroke) had to keep COVID-positive patients in isolation, but at least did allow visitors - in full protection gear. And then they shuffled her back to the hospital anyway. Once there's enough things pushing everything downhill…
I was finding out all of this over the course of a few weeks, filtered through layers of family members via text, trying to figure out where I could call or when I could visit (a 2.5 hour drive).
I didn't get to see her until she'd gone into hospice. I learned that's what it had come to, by the way, the day of the Bosstones break up. I'd been texting my sister, and had exhausted myself crying about my aunt on a tele-health appointment to my therapist, then sat for a bit, just processing. I got to the point where I could move on with things… I literally thought, "Ok, well, let's put on some Bosstones to cheer up and make something of the day," then went to check facebook 'real quick' before getting off the couch. The announcement of the breakup had gone up about 30 minutes prior. My feed was full of shock from many a friend.
Here I wanna take a moment to be admittedly very unjustifiably yet cathartic-ly catty & petty–
Thanks for the timing, guys. O_o
Anyway… less than two weeks later, I sat with my aunt through the night, and held her hand as she passed away.
My grandmother's family, and my aunt— these are the people being discounted, dehumanized, and written off by the anti-vaxxers, the so-called 'strong,' the deniers, the anti-maskers. By those who think themselves smarter than a large majority of doctors and scientists.
By those who succumbed to the engines of misinformation.
Does anyone ever find their way out of that rabbit hole? We can only hope, but it's a downward spiral that's easy to keep sliding further and further down. Their appropriation of the concept of the "red pill" is disturbingly cult-like, particularly as the "pill" they're swallowing is more like a handful of qualudes chased with a pound of meth all taken during a very very bad acid trip. But hey, let's de-fund education some more. How much worse can it get?
The 'weak' whom they can't be bothered to protect includes seniors who worked their asses off their whole lives in the hopes of enjoying some kind of retirement. Healthy folks who happen to have asthma. Brilliant people undergoing chemo for a cancer they can and will survive - unless some asymptomatic un-vaccinated anti-masker sheds gobs of high-strength virus in their vicinity. People who will die of something very treatable because the hospital workers are too overwhelmed to give everyone proper care — or because there's no space at the hospital at all, because the place is full of COVID patients.
Anyone who would write off the well-being of any of those folks does not deserve to call themselves or be lauded as a 'rebel,' some kind of punk hero bucking the system. They're not sticking it to 'the man,' they're sticking it to everyone they come in contact with. They're sticking it to their fellow humans. Their own community.
I will wear a mask and will get boosters whenever recommended because it's not just about me. I will do what I can to diminish the power and spread of this thing. I will do what I can to make sure I don't contribute to the pain of whole-family-gone or couldn't-get-treatment for others.
True punk rock cares about the weakest among us, and doesn't let 'the machine' dehumanize them and treat them as dispensable. True punk doesn't fall for bad information. True punk takes care of each other.
With that, I'm gonna sign off. I love all y'all – whether in agreement or not – and am determined to do what I can to compensate for the folly of others.
Leave a Reply.
author / artist rambles on about painting, writing, cats, punk rock, vampires, ska-core, mTBI, comics, and life in general.