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Deep Beat This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


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The almost chewable basement air, thick with dust and humidity, envelops me as the unfinished walls teem with insulation like mounds of cotton candy. I stand, facing 50 comrades packed tight, where even the smallest movement causes one to brush against another. A solitary fan suspended from the ceiling rafters by two bungee cords throws tiny flurries of insulation in a futile attempt to abate the heat. In my ­personally managed basement music venue, admission is free, aside from the donation of a single can of food.

My band and I stand poised, slowly warping the pitch of guitar strings, hitting mismatched drums, and yelling “check” into the PA system over the hum of chatter. I offer up this musical forum to foster creativity, self-responsibility, and community in an attempt to combat the growing nihilism of the modern world.

The blinding overhead lights cause me to reflect on sleepless nights under a bright book lamp, memorizing the brutally honest lyrics of my favorite bands. Album pamphlets eventually transformed into poetry by e.e. cummings and Sylvia Plath, piquing my own poetic pursuits. Through their inspiration, I morphed from awkward and lacking in confidence to singing my verses with an inexplicable urgency within a few inches of a stranger's face. Broken bits of idealistic conversation from the crowd conjure a memory of the fact that the richest one percent of the world owns more than 40 percent of the wealth and that one in five female college students in America have been sexually assaulted.

For the thousandth time, I remember my position as the leader of my school's chapter of Amnesty International and renew my life commitment to battling these issues. The chemical odor of a Sharpie pervades my nostrils. I look down to find its source: a large black X on the back of each hand, symbolizing my commitment to straight-edge living. This choice to abstain from alcohol, drugs, and casual intercourse is my intimate battle between societal tragedy, my fate, and a resolution to take charge of the direction of my life. It is my determination to recognize the failings of past generations and attempt to avoid the pitfalls that lure individuals away from a meaningful existence.

My heart pounds with a bass drum, and my chest reverberates as a power cord snakes around my neck, dangling down to the microphone in my hand. While the spectators' eyes bulge with mouths agape, and heads nod with hands thumping the beat to the song on their chests, we are all connected.

Through the music that is teeming in this soggy crypt, we become a powerful force of love and affirmation, pushing our collective creativity and ethical choices. I shout confidently, and my voice booms defiant echoes of hopeful energy through sterile cul-de-sac neighborhoods.

“In this world of either-or, we drag toward the other door. There is so much more buried beneath immaculate faces and bleached white teeth,” I exhale these words and my band plays, reassuring and solidifying my every guttural yell. My personal patchwork of images of my idols – Ian Mackaye, the vocalist of Minor Threat; Walt Whitman, the poet; Soren Kierkegaard, the philosopher; and Che Guevara, the revolutionary – circles and flashes through my mind's eye. My final breath departs. I stare at the ceiling, lying on my back with the microphone clutched to my torso, feeling complete cathartic serenity, exhausted from my attempt to express myself and incite public awareness.

Hardcore music is not the naive whining of inebriated misfits, but the spark igniting the fire in my heart that will continue to illuminate my path toward action for the rest of my life.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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aem312 said...
Jan. 31, 2012 at 4:41 pm:
Wow. This was so well written. I could picture everything perfectly. It was quite enjoyable to read.
 
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