DEAR EXENE: I've never been the kind of guy who's afraid to be judged. As someone caught up in the romanticism of the LA punk scene in the '80s (seen quite a few of your shows!), I was of the opinion that people can live how they want and dress however they damn well please. The way I dress now—tight plaid pants, band T-shirts, jack boots and a dyed-red mohawk to cover my gray hair—isn't far off from a picture I have of myself in 1983, as a young punk growing up in Hollywood. In the photo, I'm surrounded by a group of friends that lived the same lifestyle. Having recently turned 50, I can safely say that most of the friends I used to hang out rarely return my phone calls or follow through with my attempts to meet up and be a part of my life anymore, despite the facts that I'm drug-free (mostly), pay my taxes and hold a decent job. I understand that most of them have families of their own, and conventional wisdom says I wouldn't be the best role model for their kids. But really, isn't the idea of sticking to your ideals and not conforming to society just because you've reached a certain age the best kind of role model to have when you're growing up? I hate the idea that I'm isolating myself because of my looks at this age, but how do I modify my lifestyle and fit in with my age group without selling my soul?
Exene Cervenka is a writer, visual artist and punk rock pioneer. The OC transplant is the lead singer for X, the Knitters and Original Sinners. If you want to ask the legendary vocalist for advice, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
DEAR SAMMY: You will have to choose the answer to your question.
A. You and your friends from the punk days have a long history. There could be some latent jealousy or resentment over something forgotten now. But all of them? Maybe just one friend.
B. They are envious of you because you are still able to be your punk self, and it reminds them of the most exciting time of their lives, and they can't be like you because they have families and straight jobs. Probably, at least one friend.
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C. They've moved on and are into other things, punk was just a moment to them, and they think it's strange that after all these years, you still embrace it. Probably more than one.
D. Why do you care what they think? Make new friends.