Steve Wiley on Discussing Your Rowdy Past with Your Kids and a Punk Legend

Explaining The Decline of Western Civilization
One of the labels (sorry, I'd give credit but I don't remember) had set us up for dinner at this sweet waterfront restaurant. As we streamed in and grabbed tables, I sat down at the first open table I spotted (it doesn't really matter in CIMS, cause whoever you sit with is cool). Minutes later, I look up and there's John sitting down in one of the empty seats next to me.

Now that's how you get to know a rock star. Forget the backstage meet-and-great jerk off. Ya gotta have time and a looser environment. They can't be honest and in autograph mode at the same time. I had been able to break the ice on the bus, and now we were sitting down to have dinner. I may not have been an ultra-punk fan, but this was cool.

At some point during this fine dinner, the conversation turned to family. John explained to me that he had three daughters, and I said I had a little tribe of my own. His kids were older than the three that lived in my household, so he was ahead of me in the game.

So I asked him, "How do you handle questions about your notorious past?"

Good question, eh?

I wanted to know. You see, I might not be a punk legend... but I've done a notorious thing or two. As I've said many times, I didn't name the store Hoodlums by accident. That's a moniker I earned with some glorious effort (and damn fun results), and it's a worthy subject. In the meantime, I'm a bit more mature now, and being a dad is the most important role in my life.

John understood the dilemma. He said one of his daughters had asked about some sort of questionable scene from The Decline of Western Civilization (Penelope Spheeris' film about the late-70s L.A. punk scene).

I said, "Yeah, I guess sweeping it under the rug is pretty much out of the question when you are one of the subjects of a documentary called The Decline of Western Civilization."

Anyway, it wasn't an interview, so I don't have quotes, but I think it's safe to say that this was his general take: Be as honest as you can with them. You can't entirely hide your past.

Good advice from a road-tested veteran to a hoodlum like me.

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