PUNK: Lonesome American Memoirs

3: Dollar Off

The smell of the air is lovely here. Crowds of people milling slowly from one end of the avenue to the other. They come for no real reason. They come to be here. They come to shop, to amble, to wander, to talk, to be seen. They are in a hurry, and just crossing the road to get from wherever they have come from to wherever the needed to be a few minutes ago. Oh my god, look at the time. Shit. Is it really three o’clock already? Fuck.

They come searching for something that might be here. They stay, without destination, paused in front of ATMs and pizza parlors. They linger at windows of nicknack shops and think about something from years ago. They seem to be headed somewhere important, hair bouncing, arms swinging… and yet they take that extra moment to check their look in the window of the record store. As if it were a mirror and no one inside could see them looking at themselves.

I stand on the corner and try to get through the flyers.

“Dollar off” I say, over and over without enthusiasm.

Secretly I hate the people who pass by without taking a flyer. Not as much as the ones who look at the flyer, focus on it briefly, and then pretend I am not here. I hate them the most. I don’t think about the people who actually take them from me. I don’t notice that I offer them to the same people over and over. Some people take more than one. Some people return to me after reading that my flyer offers them a $1 discount on any used record not already on sale, and give it back to me with some kind of apologetic smile.

Sometimes they say, ” you know man, I’m not gonna use this…”

And I say, “whatever, I don’t give a shit.”

And they reply, ” I’m just gonna throw it on the ground…” as if tempting me to prevent them from littering. Begging me, in a tentative, parental way, to care.

“Dollar off!” I say with a little more effort, looking over their shoulders, off in the other direction, past them, through them.

My eye quickly darts to the crumpled paper as the balding man in the yellow tank top regretfully lets it drop from him long soft fingers and tumble onto the sidewalk.

I watch their feet kick it around a while, never stepping exactly on top of it, but moving it through their feet gracefully like water around rocks in reverse. Until it is, at last, set free into the street…

In the gutter, my little black and white flyer blends with everything else. It fits perfectly among the other scraps of paper, cigarette buts, plastic cups and pizza paper. An empty matchbook snuggles up next to it and they begin a new and happy life.

Buzzcocks ‘Autonomy’


Table of contents
Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8, Chapter 9, Chapter 10, Chapter 11, Chapter 12, Chapter 13, Chapter 14, Chapter 15, Chapter 16, Chapter 17, Chapter 18, Chapter 19, Chapter 20, Chapter 21, Chapter 22, Chapter 23, Chapter 24
Musicology, Errata