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Review - The Other F Word DVD

The world of punk papas

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Review - The Other F Word DVD

The Other F Word

Oscilloscope Laboratories
Punk rock is no stranger to the F-word. It's been used in punk music almost since day one, in some of the most crass and eloquent ways imaginable. It's a word that's almost a mark of pride for some scenes, and while punk rock may not have invented it, it most certainly has perfected its use.

Then there's the other F-word. The one that is more of a dirty word in the punk scene than the one most associated with the moniker, and it's part of a topic that is just recently gaining notice in the punk scene, as its members continue to grow old, if not grow up.

That word is "fatherhood," and it's the theme of Andrea Blaugrund Nevins' 2011 documentary, The Other F Word. Taking the idea spawned by former Pennywise frontman Jim Lindberg's book Punk Rock Dad, the film is a look at punk rock musicians who are also fathers, exploring how they deal with simultaneously part of a scene that is notoriously anti-authority while also serving as authority figures for their children.

Punk rock parenting isn't that new, but it is a relatively new theme to gain notice in the media. Punk musicians, writers and filmmakers are devoting much more time to the topic, from musicians like Mike Park writing punk music for kids, writers, musicians and activists like Jessica Mills and Tomas Moniz creating punk rock parenting guides, and directors like Luci Westphal, whose new documentary webseries All's Well and Fair looks at the lives of three punk moms in Gainseville over a decade, it's a theme whose time has come, because it's a theme that has people who strongly and readily identify with it.

Opening with Against Me!'s "I Was A Teenage Anarchist," the film begins as a snippet of vignettes where a wide range of people from the punk scene, including Lindberg, Fat Mike, Tony Hawk, Mark Hoppus and Tim McIlrath, each relaying a bot about their ideas of parenting, and delivering anecdotes.

What's particularly telling is how seriously everyone takes the job. Mark Hoppus talks about needing to buy censored versions of his albums to play at home, and Fat Mike wakes up his young daughter, carries her to the couch and makes breakfast.

But the most predominant theme revolves around that of Pennywise, and Lindberg's views on touring constantly, how it's starting to wear on him, and how he wants to be a larger part of the life of his children.

At times in the middle, it hits a bit of a lull, where it almost feels like a bit of filler has been injected on the drudgery of touring and the music business. And while it took a bit of effort to power through the lull, the results were rewarding.

The documentary takes a very serious turn at one point, where two legendary punk musicians speak of the deaths of their children. Tony Adolescent (The Adolescents), who had a baby that was stillborn, and Duane Peters (US Bombs), whose son was killed in a car accident, both give revealing and emotional interviews on the ordeals, with Adolescent summing up the importance of parenting:

We've been through a lot and this is the most important job a person can have - that of a parent. And anybody who's lucky enough to have children needs to understand that. This has to be everything.

Ultimately, the story returns to, and continues to revolve around Pennywise and their incessant touring. Warped Tour Kevin Lyman sums up Linndberg's growing dissatisfaction with the road by discussing getting older in a band:

Then all of a sudden you find yourself and the years start going by quicker and you need to find how you get off the road.

And this is the situation we find Lindberg in. He starts rearranging tour dates in order to be home, which the band isn't happy with, and he realizes that this isn't working:

We got to see the world and met a lot of great fans and we had a good time doing it. But I'm up there trying to be a good lead singer of a band and a good dad at the same time. And you start to worry if you're doing a good job of both.

Eventually, Lindberg decides that he's not, and quits the band, starting the well-documented events that lead to the designation of Zoli Teglas as the band's new singer. But that's not part of the documentary. What we're left with are Lindberg's newfound outlook on life, as he becomes more of a father:

Maybe the way we change the world is by raising better kids and being more attentive to those kids

As the punk generation continues to age, more and more conversations like this need to be had. As aging punks hold true to their long-held ideals, they will need to find ways to reach a compromise between those ideals and the needs of their children to be loved, nurtured and have authority figures. As a new father myself, it was an affirming portrait to know that I'm not alone, and even if the other F-word isn't something heavily used in the punk scene right now, it is on a lot of our minds.

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