The Milk Bar
I recall my first show at the Milk Bar on Adams Street in downtown Jacksonville
It was "The Mighty, Mighty Bosstones" and "The Pietasters"
my friend copped free tickets cuz he worked in promotions at Planet Radio 93.3
he told me to muss up my hair so they wouldn't think I was part of the establishment
the club was in the basement of an abandoned building and I stood in a line that snaked up and down the cracked sidewalk
the diversity harbored the fever of the dying American dream
there were goths and punks and bangers and lackeys and nerds and straights
nose rings, tattoos, chained wallets spiked bracelets, a rainbow of unnatural hair color shaved heads, reverse mohawks, Serial Killer and Porn Star t-shirts, Jinco's that dragged the ground, Dickeys, Doc Martins.
Djarums puffing in teenage mouths upstart poets, future musicians Sinatra look-a-likes leather pants gays, lesbians, anarchists, communists guys in zoot suits, girls in flowered sun dresses
all at an average age of 25 or under
As we walked through the doorway the burly guard droned
"No Chains! No Dope! No Shit!"
over and over like a Hell's Angel macaw
I remember the smells clove cigarettes Boone's Farm M.D. 20/20 leather Cool Water Teen Spirit sweat body odor
I slammed five malt beers in the green room before the mayhem started
the only illumination was a black light and a half dozen incense sticks burning brightly along the perimeter
I was drunk and writhed through the entanglement of flesh like a serpent
(I felt so alive)
the young ladies had transformed for the evening into "Riot grrrls"
wearing black lipstick and purple nail polish
(that resembled dried blood)
dressed in cupie doll t-shirts with "Bitch" or "Sex Kitten" iron-ons
when I fell in the mosh pit a skin head
(with an X'd out Nazi symbol on his grease monkey button up)
pulled me to my feet
The music was alive and jumped with arcs of electricity
white guys who had crossed reggae and punk to give birth to "Third Wave Ska"
When it came to the end I was breathless
the icy night air chilled my sweat drenched body and I couldn't help going on and on about the moment
Feeling that I was on the front lines of a scene that would blaze up
then smolder out and be forgotten
As doomed as it was though it was our chance to gobble up life
and to bookmark those days to remember
when joy was electricity and we had the courage to absorb the raindrops in the lightning storm.