(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Monday, November 21, 2011

DVD review - The Other F Word (2011)

Punk rock parenthood is not so different than the normal kind

The Other F Word
is "fatherhood". Andrea Blaugrund Nevins' documentary took its inspiration from Jim Lindberg's 2007 book, Punk Rock Dad: No Rules, Just Real Life. Where Lindberg showcased his punk perspective on parenting, The Other F Word digs deeper into what fatherhood really means.

While the multitude of on-screen interviews with punk icons form a great hook, the heart of the documentary is more universal. Any parent watching this will recognize themselves. They'll think of their lifestyle before the kids and how they've reconciled their own formative years with the responsibilities of parenthood. They may not be covered with ink or be touring with the band, but they still have to balance their rebellious youth against their parental role and their job demands against time with the family. The difference may be more a matter of degree.

TOFW anchors itself to Jim Lindberg, shifting between his family time and touring with Pennywise. But other big names get plenty of screen time, too. Art Alexakis (Everclear), Fat Mike (NOFX), Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers), and Brett Gurewitz (Bad Religion) are among the crowd of men offering their own views and various strategies. Fat Mike talks about how he and his wife weren't going to let parenthood change them. On the other hand, Ron Reyes (Black Flag) dropped out completely from his old lifestyle.

The documentary hits four distinct themes. The first two are about the punk scene, both the early days and today. There's a spark in recapping the early days, with the dark side of losing friends offset by the powerful feeling these guys got from the music. That contrasts with the maturity of the scene today, where the bands are faced with what they need to do to make a living. The other two themes cover the parenting side. There's a common thread of their absent or disconnected fathers and wanting to do a better job. Finally, the guys talk more about their own experiences in being a father.

Along the way, there are a host of soundbites that nail the dichotomy of punk parenthood:
The dominatrixes on my arm? The one tied up with a ball gag? I don't know. How do you explain that to a four year old? - Fat Mike
I went to volunteer at the school one time. I went up to the school for something and had no idea that I was wearing a shirt that said "Fuck the police" on it. Like, I was just that clueless - Jack Grisham (TSOL)
But the emotional moments are the real feast here, like Flea's perspective on parental responsibility and his bond with his daughters - My kids gave me life...they gave me a reason - or Duane Peters (U.S. Bombs) talking about the loss of his son, Chess.

This love and connection bridges the differences between these punk dads and the rest of us parents. I dabbled with punk as a 20-something and I still play music out. I'm faced with same decisions about balancing work and time with my son. While a younger me couldn't have imagined being a dad, today my son is a fundamental part of who I am. I may try to be the "cool dad", but at the same time, I feel a responsibility to help my son become the man he deserves to be.
I'm raising my son the way I wish I'd been raised. Someone said to me the other day, "I wish you were my father" and I go "Me, too. I wish I was my father, too." - Art Alexakis
The Other F Word is playing in theaters this November and December.

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