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crawl into the gap
rock fashion metamorphosis
by jeff miller (@jmillerboston)
pop culture

I need to talk to someone about my identity crisis.

Those of you who have indulged me in columns past will remember that I consider myself to be a Representative of the Rock Community. When I look in the mirror, I see myself through a cloud of dry ice fog. I am backlit by flashing strobes. Crimson and lavender floodlights are highlighting what's left of my cheekbones, and glitter sparkles in my long, frizzy-permed hair.

Small silver pentagrams dangle from my earlobes. Coiled around my neck is a simple chain supporting a weighty ankh. I ponder the symbol's mystery as I apply thick gobs of eyeliner and rouge. I sneer at myself and chant a quick verse from Iron Maiden's "Flight of Icarus".

My fantasy unravels however, when I try to zip up my leather vest. Suddenly, I realize that my ribcage has dissapeared completely. My skeleton and dragon tatoos have scampered off to find more happening digs, and my bellybutton seems to be......deeper?

Then I remember.

I never got to be a rock star.

Oh well, you can only be the best you can be, right? I mean, I still ROCK, don't I? Or do I? How would you know by looking at me that I rock at all? I cut off my hair to free myself of hairties and strangling strands. I wear a couple of earrings, but who doesn't? I wear leather boots and jackets, but who doesn't?

Living in a corporate college town, I'm exposed to a lot of leftover high school outfits. Usually by about the third month of their freshmen year, these kids start to figure out how to express their Rock. Some will Get Punk, hanging out with the skaters and Preppies-Gone-Bad in Harvard Square. Others will fall in with the Hippie crowd (yes, my god, it's still out there) sporting Guatemalan pants and smelly dreads. Even more will just simply stop doing things like laundry and washing their hair - without even knowing they've become Slackers.

Allow me to share a story: I have a friend who is unquestionably one of the hardest rocking musicians in the Northeast. He's just a sicko. To protect the rights of the innocent, let's call him Ralph. Now, Ralph isn't just a great player, he's a great entertainer. He writes disturbing lyrics, jumps around like a madman, and occassionaly wears ugly rubber masks onstage. When his band plays it sounds like two tractor trailers slamming into each other at 90 mph. This man, as a performer, projects an onstage image of a Rock Warrior. He's One of My Kind.

Imagine my surprise when, after not seeing Ralph for a month or so, I find myself standing before him, awkwardly trying to hide a pair of khakis behind my back.

He's with his girl, I'm with mine, and we're at the GAP.

Two men of Rock, suddenly find themselves exposed - facing the Ultimate Truth. Our lifestyles simply don't gel with our Rock and Roll Fantasies. We share a laugh with the girls, and acknowledge that, gee, it sure is weird to see you here, of all places. We both brush off the minor embarrasment and chat a bit about our bands, introduce the ladies, and ask each other - how's your job going?

I don't know how to feel about all this. I mean, what if all of a sudden I do get a chance to be a rock star? What will I wear? How do you create a new trend when all the latest clothes are retro?

Tnis is just one sad example of what happens when you allow yourself to start thinking like your parents. For example: "Well, I guess if you want that $3000.00 amplifier, you'd better get a good job" or " What you need to do is figure out what you're gonna fall back on, you know, just in case the whole music thing doesn't work out."

These kinds of statements eventually come back to haunt you. The next thing you know you're looking for bargains on Dockers at Filene's. You justify your own mediocrity by spending all of your hard-earned money on guitars, recording equipment and concert tickets, but in the end you end up looking like the general public.

Of course, there's no great shame in this, but let's face it - blending in is pretty damn near the opposite of rocking out. I never did buy those khakis, and to this day I've never been able to force myself to cross the line drawn between the mosh pit and the Great Sea of Olive Legs. I take pride in this subtle defiance of corporate culture, but I do occasionally wonder -

Should I have bought those pants?


Brown eyes, brown hair, bluejeans and a T-shirt. Digs loud guitars and good design. Easily hypnotized by green-eyed blondes, shiny leather, B-movies, and brightly packaged foods. He's got a bustle in his hedgerow - but he is NOT alarmed.

more about jeff miller


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topic: pop culture
published: 7.13.01

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by jeff miller
topic: pop culture
published: 3.25.02


travis broughton
11.10.00 @ 12:24p

I'm not a fan of nonconformity for its own sake. It just seems silly in retrospect. There are punk fads and goth fads, just as there are prep fads. Ian MacKaye doesn't rock any less because he grew some hair after his Minor Threat/Embrace days. Mods were snappy dressers, but they agreed with the Skins that the Bosstones (pre-top-40 days, of course) rocked hard.

Buy the pants -- they're much more comfortable than surplus fatigues or skintight leather chaps.

joe procopio
11.10.00 @ 6:11p

Metallica can kiss my hairy pasty... sorry.

Cooker, you know you dressed exclusively from Chess King like the rest of us. Only you actually had some women after you.

And Jeff, next time you fret about your Gap-lifestyle, remember these two words: "Mafia Hat." You won't sweat the khakis as much.

jeff miller
11.10.00 @ 6:28p

It's just that ever since that Latin music thing came up I just haven't felt myself....what I mean to say is, I haven't felt myself, not that I haven't felt myself....anyway, I feel better now that Joe's reminded me that I used to wear those god-awful collarless shirts from Chess King....At least we've put that behind us...hi Meve!

jeffrey walker
11.13.00 @ 11:17p

I wear the stuff that I can afford. "Route 66" brand at K-Mart, "Retro Blues" from Wal Mart. I get whole outfits for the price of your designer underpants.

The only way to be "hip" and "stylish" is to do your own thing. The "new" thing at the mall is what everyone will have on this week. If you're wearing a coat from Salvation Army, you're doing your own thing... for less!

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