Think back to approximately 10 years ago when Santa Fe had all kinds of punk bands. Bands such as The Floors, Knowital, The Battle's End, Pintsize, Monkeyshines and even my own project (don't) shoot noah! packed Warehouse 21, The Paramount and Rockin' Rollers on a regular basis. Then I moved to California for 3 1/2 lousy years, and the whole operation went to shit. Aside from a handful of touring bands and old-timers, punk music and, by extension, punk culture has just about died here, and I'm sick of it. I'm starting Punk Club.

In order to join, y'all must first do two things:

1. Check out Albuquerque goth/punk act Vertigo Venus, which opens for Russian-American surf/rock act the Red Elvises at Corazón. VV is far from my favorite band. In fact, it's pretty damn goofy. But its members are at least trying to bring some punk to Santa Fe and the surrounding areas.

2. Make sure to read the following rules because Punk Club is for real!

Punk rock isn’t about some gigantic patch on the back of your filthy denim vest. It’s a lifestyle. In fact, some of the punkest people I’ve known were family men who were more interested in taking care of their loved ones than proving anything to anyone. Bottom line? Punk isn’t an outfit; it’s all about how you carry yourself. With this in mind, heed Rule 1: Be cool.

It’s interesting that certain hairstyles are considered “punk.” I theorize that people with Mohawks or complicated dye jobs are trying to look weird. This is all well and good, but it takes just as much effort to look weird as it does to look clean cut. The moral is that it’s always best to look however you feel comfortable, and therein is Rule 2: Be yourself.

I don’t know who decided squatting in a squalid hellhole of a house and taking a vow of filth was considered punk, but I can assure you there is no shame in regular showers and/or baths. This one time, I picked up a gutter-punk hitchhiker, and my whole car smelled like he had dookied a shooter in his pants. If plan on joining Punk Club, you’re going to wind up spending lots of time with people, so be aware of Rule 3: Be clean.

A lot of people (such as my grandmother) tend to look at punk types like a bunch of shiftless layabouts. In punk, as any walk of life, there certainly are worthless chumps, but also plenty of upstanding members of society—smart and interesting people who offer a great deal to those around them. If you have a lot to offer, then it’s only fair for people to be able to approach you without fear you’ll totally Hulk out and get violent at the drop of a hat. I mean, you’re a cool person, right? So please adhere to Rule 4: Be nice.

You don’t have to prove anything to anyone in Punk Club. Punk is supposed to be a hard-hitting form of free expression. When people go out of their way to convince others they are something they’re not, it seems desperate. In the glorious new punk regime, nobody will scoff because you bought your pants at Kmart or don’t forage food from dumpsters. Besides, if you drive a car, you are already supporting the most evil of all evils. Take a deep breath, friends. You’ll be just fine as long as you remember Rule 5: Be natural.

Setting what is essentially bad high-school poetry to music seems to be a widely accepted practice in today’s so-called punk world. Punk rock used to have a message. It was about giving regular people a fair shake and not accepting corrupt governments. Now, it’s like a musical version of crying over a breakup that was a long time coming. For the love of God, it’s time to get back to the roots of the genre. It’s time for Rule 6: Be angry.

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