Armagideon Time

The agonizing decision whether or not to mutilate your cherished copy of Ghostly Tales #117.

The dangerous flirtation with parental sanction as you hounded your harried mom for a check for two bucks…and an envelope…and a stamp.

The excruciating six-to-eight-week wait for your coveted prize, marked by multiple daily visits to your family’s mailbox. (Yes, even on Sundays. You know what your dad said about the postman’s schedule, but they must make exceptions for truly special deliveries.)

The unparalleled thrill of finally and inelegantly tearing open an 8 by 11 manila envelope addressed to you from Super Values of Charter Road, Philadelphia.

The painstaking process of deciding which recolored clip-art collage of the macabre you want imprinted on your sole untattered t-shirt.

The stealthy subterfuge in which you bypass the emphatic “you are NOT wearing that THING to school today” edict by cloaking your prize under a pullover you’ll discard once you’ve moved past the sight of your front porch.

The disheartening dread as you trudge back home bearing a note from the principal to your parents.

The solemn resignation upon realizing that last growth spurt has relegated your near-constant sartorial companion to the far back corner of an stuffed-to-bursting dresser drawer. (In the decade that follows, countless other cherished t-shirts will be reluctantly sacrificed to feed your mother’s insatiable need for dust rags. Not this one. Not ever.)

The mixture of embarrassment and unexpected joy when your middle-aged self rediscovers that old familiar friend in storage crate while cleaning out the attic of your late parents’ home.

Recommended listening: Brigandage – Ripped and Torn (from Pretty Funny Thing, 1986)

[audio:151002brt.mp3]

Every scene-shaping musical inspires a wave of similar acts. Most are awful, some are quite good, and a handful are exceptional — yet nearly all lack that certain creative spark which animated the original instigators.

So it was with the Beatles and the British Invasion, where countless bands remained tidally locked to the skiffle/Merseybeat sound even as the Fab Four charted a course into experimental territory. It was also the case with the Oi! scene’s stubborn adherence to the template laid down by the first Clash LP.

Thus it should come at no surprise that there were a number of tortured-haired taffy-pullers who pinched a lot of the style yet a modicum of substance from Siouxsie Sioux’s playbook…

…and I’m perfectly fine with that.

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