Friday, 5 July 2013
FLASHBACK 1980 . . . . THE DUMB SHIT YOU DID SIMPLY TO PISS OFF THE STRAIGHTS . . . . I'M EMBARRASSED AND ASHAMED TO SAY I DID UP MY OWN TEE SHIRT IN MY FINAL YEAR AT SCHOOL IN 1979 WITH A SWASTIKA AND THE WORDS 'NEO-NAZI' . . . . THE MORE I COULD OFFEND PEOPLE OF MY DAD'S GENERATION BACK THEN, THE BETTER, IT SEEMED . . . . BEING A SKATER/PUNK/GEARHEAD IN A SURFIE BOY TOWN WASN'T ALL BEER AND SKITTLES.
"THROUGH YOUR PAST DARKLY - MY UGLY TRUTH" OR "LESSONS IN LIFE FROM THE NUMBERED MAN"
Summer 1980, standing at our piece of turf down the beach one post surf session morning getting changed out of my wet stuff, my fellow crew and other people everywhere, I see this old bloke, short, hunched, grey hair, walking toward me and my bodyboard on the side of the footpath, as was often the case back in the day among the worldwide skater crew so influenced by the Dogtown thing, for pure shock value, I had put a Swastika about 18" in diameter on the bottom of it with the beautifully inspired script 'Skate Nazi' along with it . . . . I harbored no Anti-Semitic or racist feelings, wasn't into Nazi skins or the Oi wank trip, I just wanted to fuck with my dad's generation, the object of my frustrations and misplaced teenage punk angst, after all, they had fought in WWII for my right and freedom to be an offensive cockhead, it was just 'something to do' . . . . right??
Anyway, I had the board up against the low wall we sat on with the bottom facing outward for maximum shock value. This old dude keeps walking directly at me, I knew, or thought I knew, what was coming, it had happened countless times before, the lecture, the questions, the fear. Then I realised Pops wasn't gonna say a word, he came right up to me and started kicking my esky lid along the footpath, each step a fresh kick . . . . I'm like, what the fuck, hey man, stop kicking my board, but this wizened old gnome just kept at it, eventually continuing on his way without so much as pausing to turn around. I felt an alarm inside my core go off so loudly and sharply at that moment that it changed and shaped the rest of my life . . . . in my heart I knew I had crossed the line between simply being a dumb, angry and deliberately offensive punk into the realms of becoming one of the same group of subhumans who visited such atrocious and hideous levels of pain and suffering on the world as Hitler and his sick fuck cronies did during the Ten Year Reich, simply by association, and to put the cherry on my shitcake, I knew right there and then the old guy musta been Jewish.
That arvo when I got home from the surf, I got a rattle can and sprayed over the Swastika, got the one tee shirt with the same symbol so brazenly and thoughtlessly applied to it and chucked the fucker in the bin, that was the first and last time I'd ever flirt with the very manifestation of twentieth century evil. I felt clean.
About a week later I was sitting on a bench in a park not far from 'our spot', by myself having a smoke after a late afternoon surf when I notice the same old bloke leaving the footpath and heading toward me once more !!! Fuck, deja vu, here we go again I thought, as things transpired, I was wrong. He came up to me, says sorry for the kicking episode of the other week and asks if he can sit down and talk, in a strong, European accented voice. I say yes and immediately begin to apologise for the offence caused and displayed the recently sprayed out symbol and quickly added my dad had served in the Navy during the war in a pisspoor attempt to make me appear less of a fuckwit.
We, well he mostly, began to talk and he starts telling me his story, bare in mind I was at Uni studying modern history at this point, he and his family had been arrested, detained and then trucked off to a concentration camp in the first couple of years of the war, he was fifteen. The rest of his kin never made it through the war, only he did. Not long before he bade me farewell, he rolled up his sleeve and showed me a crudely inked, blue, six digit number on the inside of his sinewy, taut, left forearm. I wept, he placed his arm around my shoulder and said it was okay, he wished me well and we shook hands before he walked back to the footpath and into my past. It's always easy to remember that afternoon with lucid, guilty clarity.