Rob Fortier circa early to mid '90s - Photo by Darrel Mayabb
Whenever I see a teenager all dressed in tie-dyed garb, sportin' the deadhead look (or for that matter, with a liberty-spiked Mohawk and "Exploited" stenciled on their cutoff jean jacket), I often think to myself, "What are they doing? They weren't even alive when all that took place!" Well, guess that makes me quite the hypocrite now doesn't it? Being that I'm a young'un, just barely knocking on the door of 42, it's obvious that I wasn't even a thought in my parents' minds when this hobby of ours was in its first go 'round.
So, if my criticism (or should that be "sarcasm") of others as noted above is even remotely accurate, does that mean that I, nor others, have the right to enjoy, let alone take part in, something "after the fact", as it were? Since I'm now right in the crosshairs of the hypocritical gun sight, I find myself leaning toward the acceptable side of the spectrum. In all seriousness, while I will always find the whole backdating of one's self music scene wise (in outward appearance, that is) kind of odd, it's in essence really no different than what a majority of us are doing, right? Except, while I'd find it rather cool if my father were to pick me up at the mall in a chopped '32 or even a '49 Merc, I do see a bit of disparity when a young punker or hippy gets picked up at said mall-or from school-by a parent driving a new Benz or Bimmer! Kind of defeats the whole "statement" aspect, doesn't it?
Robert Williams by Fortier - STREET RODDER magazine, 1996
I wonder how many of those same kids ever dream about what it would be like to have actually lived and taken part in the '60s and/or '70s, when the Grateful Dead or The Ramones were just starting to play live gigs? I'm sure plenty do. I sure know that there are a number of times when I wished I'd been born, oh, about 30 years earlier. It's one thing being able to read books and various periodicals that afford you the possibility of taking a mental trip back in time, but that'll never compare to having been there, done that. So too is hearing all of the tales and stories from those who were there in the early days-but again, nothing quite like the real thing, huh?
Toward the end of the recent holidays, I found myself waxing nostalgic, flipping through some various books of mine, when I happened to pull out and subsequently peruse The Hot Rod World of Robt. Williams. At first, I had done so mostly in an effort to show my son some of my photography that "wasn't" in a magazine (he wasn't buying the fact that I'd taken any pictures that were ever published in an actual book!). But after convincing my lil' punk, I began reflecting on how important a role Williams has played in my hot rod upbringing-spawned from an initial admiration of art that led to a pivotal interview that began my career, and ultimately a longtime friendship.
Beyond "he and I", so to speak, I started seeing more of he-he who has been there, done that, right alongside the Petes, the Jakes, and even the Roths, all when it mattered most. All in all, it didn't totally make me regret that my younger years weren't quite as on the edge, or even over the edge for that matter, but it sure made me wonder what it would've been like ... even if just for a day. While I probably wouldn't give nearly as much respect to Johnny Rotten, or Jerry Garcia if he were still with us, I would like to tip my hat to all the people who have made it possible for us to be able to enjoy this amazing hobby of ours. Thank you ...thank you very much.
PS: I still think it's absurd for pretty much anyone to sport a Mohawk ... especially if you're old enough to have been there before!