John A. Duerk

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“Simply being straight edge doesn’t make you better than anyone else, especially if you embrace and perpetuate a lot of the fucked-up aspects of mainstream culture.” –Eva Hall, p. 28 Gabriel Kuhn has done it again.  Nearly a decade after his initial effort to capture the political elements associated with straight edge, he offers us another well-conceived title, X: Straight Edge and Radical Sobriety, published by PM Press.  Without question, it is… Read More

To some, spending money in a store is akin to casting a ballot in an election.  While this is an imperfect analogy, I’ve come to appreciate it.  Undoubtedly, we send companies a message every time we open our wallets to them in the marketplace.  We monetarily reinforce the multiple components of their business model – from where they operate and their modes of production to who they employ and the quality of… Read More

Good Riddance is a band that matured without abandoning their sound, consciousness, or intensity.  That’s really hard to do in music – especially punk.  As many of us age, a separation between our past and present develops that some rationalize as simply part of an inevitable growth process.  Too often, devolution is masked as evolution.  Not for this band.  Their latest effort, Thoughts and Prayers (2019), is as solid as anything they… Read More

Honestly, I can’t remember the first time I ever heard The Exploited.  Late teens?  Since then, they’ve been one of my favorite old school punk bands along with others acts like Chaos U.K. and G.B.H. The combination of politics, anger, and hooks in their music has long appealed to me, especially when you grow up in vapid suburb that could never satisfy your interests.  Now, you won’t find a profound manifesto on… Read More

A colleague and I enrolled in a continuing education class at Rice University called Democracy and Disagreement this semester as an extension of our work with the Center for Civic Engagement.  Part of what attracted me to it is Dr. Elizabeth Barre’s interdisciplinary approach, which encompasses other important fields such as psychology and biology.  One of the major themes we’ve been discussing is the debate over what is more likely to shape… Read More

Even in the punk scene, thoughtful idealism can be really hard to come by.  The day I found Dissent’s self-titled LP (1988) at Toad Hall in Rockford, Illinois, I discovered a great record that originated in one of the most unexpected of places.  Without question, I connect with the band’s leftist political consciousness and I appreciate anyone who has the courage to champion a cause.  So, what caught my attention as I… Read More

Last Thursday, the Center for Civic Engagement at LSC-CyFair hosted a powerful event featuring members of The Journey of Hope, a non-profit advocacy group that opposes capital punishment.  Two activists, Shujaa Graham and SueZann Bosler, shared incredibly moving stories that captivated the audience.  Mr. Graham spoke about serving time on death row before his exoneration.  Ms. Bosler told us about the horrific day in 1986 when she watched a man murder her… Read More

…are genuine at all times…inspire us to do more…provide truthful explanations for their actions while taking responsibility…show compassion…ask thoughtful questions even in the most difficult of moments…understand which boundaries they should maintain and which ones they should transgress…rethink their current approach…believe in a myriad of possibilities…fight like hell to uplift the human condition…demonstrate their gratitude…know who they are and what they want…defend the defenseless…change their mindset and behavior when necessary…acknowledge their flaws… Read More

Recently, I rewrote a presentation on political parties because I felt that it needed to be updated.  While looking for supplemental materials that will be used to generate an in-class discussion, I found polling data from earlier this year that indicates 42% of people surveyed self-identify as “political independents,” i.e. they don’t claim either the Democratic or Republican label.  It’s a significant phenomenon that journalists and pundits have discussed at length (click… Read More

Routines.  I really like them.  I embrace the consistency of a healthy pattern because repetition brings me comfort.  That said, sometimes routines have to be intentionally broken.  Why?  Challenging yourself is vital to a purposeful existence.  A couple of months ago, I decided that I wanted to do something in addition to teaching over the summer.  I’ve been in Houston long enough that I felt it was time to get directly involved… Read More

Eager to escape the congestion that’s too common in northwest Harris County and relax by spending time outdoors, my friend and I regularly drop by a local park just a few miles from my apartment.  It’s a simple, yet perfect, suburban refuge conveniently tucked behind a housing development just off of a major thoroughfare.  While there, we’re able to get some exercise and look for turtles soaking up the sun along the… Read More

Conspiracy theories.  Where do they come from?  The C.I.A. killed President John F. Kennedy.  The Apollo 11 astronauts never landed on the moon.  A scientist created AIDS in a laboratory so it could be used as a biological weapon.  The federal government blew up the levies in New Orleans.  Last spring, a student expressed concern in class about Jade Helm, the U.S. military training exercise that irked many people here in Texas… Read More