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November 9, 2016

I went through puberty during the Reagan administration, which is probably why I turned out so twisted. He took office when I was 11. I understood only that my political refugee parents were shocked that a B-movie actor could ascend to the presidency. He starred alongside a chimpanzee, for Pete's sake, and many said the chimp had more brains. By the time his scandal-ridden tenure was over I saw him for the monster he was, an awareness fostered by punk culture more than anything else--the 'zines, records, stickers, shows, and community. I spent hours alone in my room poring over lyrics as LPs spun on my $99 all-in-one Yorx stereo. That subculture was my window on a worldview that jolted me out of my suburban status quo conditioning. Today as I try to process the enormity of what just happened it helps to revisit music that's timely as ever. Remember, Make America Great Again was Reagan's slogan, and now here we are again with an even less qualified celebrity becoming frontman for the military-industrial complex, but now with the added zest of total surveillance, for-profit prisons, and death by drone. It got me thinking about creating a punk rock syllabus, a course of participatory study emphasizing self-sufficiency, critical thinking, and creative expression. Now is the time to make America punk again.