Live slow, die old

A contribution from ace reporter and 2020 Tartan graduate, Ozzy Schowalter.


Ozzy Schowalter

Recently, I’ve stumbled across a genre of music that can only be described as an oxymoron:  straight edge punk. Straight edge is a subculture within the punk and hardcore community that is strongly against any form of drug use.  It may be hard to believe that the most rebellious genre of music is home to an extremely strong willed group of non drug users, but it is a very real and prevalent community, and it’s because of the live fast die young attitude of most punks that the movement was born.

Basically, punk culture was becoming more about being self destructive than liking the bands and that got old quick.  In 1984, Minor Threat released the track “Straight Edge,” which gave a name to the already budding movement and introduced more people to the idea.  People started drawing or even tattooing X’s on their hands, like the ones minors get at shows, to represent their sobriety, and the movement was officially born.

 In 1986, Youth of Today released the album “Break Down the Walls,” which expanded the straight edge philosophy.  While other hardcore bands spent their time complaining about how society, school, and their parents are to blame for all their problems, Youth of Today focused more on what we can do to better ourselves with songs like “Make a Change,” “Time to Forgive,” and “Positive Outlook.”

But if you thought it couldn’t get more ridiculous than shirtless dudes screaming about positive mental attitudes and being drug free then boy are you wrong.  Bands like Earth Crisis took straight edge and youth crew values and added veganism to it. Yes, there are albums out there that have people screaming about being a sober, peaceful, optimistic, vegan.

The straight edge community is a valiant one.  True till death is their slogan and while true till death can be true till 21, it’s more rare than you’d think for the edge to go dull.  Unfortunately, every group has the people that take it too far, and straight edge is no exception, there can be some extremely judgemental or even violent people in the scene, but that doesn’t reflect the true values of straight edge and most of the community completely disregard them.

All in all, being straight edge can make you feel out of step with the world, so even if it is a little comical, having a community of punks that were a little too into D.A.R.E as a kid is a true blessing.  If self help books are a little too boring for you I’d highly recommend checking out straight edge, nothing gets you more into positive living than Ray Cappo yelling in your ear about it.