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The Music Fan’s Walk-In Clinic

DIAGNOSIS: Attack of the faux-hawks!

ILLNESS: Pent-up angst released through hollow channels — the ever-generic genre of contemporary pop-punk.

SYMPTOMS: That dreaded faux-hawk. Nothing says “I’m not really a punk” more than whipping your hair up like mommy used to do in the bathtub just to prove to sorority girls that you like bands who wear a similar faux-style. Also, random sloganeering with “Stop Bush” and the like, even though you think Cheney, Rumsfeld and Ashcroft is a law firm.

PRESCRIPTION: If you want meaningful political commentary then look up Noam Chomsky or Christopher Hitchens. It’s always a good idea to touch base with the classics, including The Buzzcocks, The Clash, The Fall, Blondie and Iggy and the Stooges, among several others. The best thing you can do is run, full-speed, away from any band resembling Blink 182, including Blink 182.

PROGNOSIS: Chomsky and Hitchens automatically raise your IQ by several points, so expect higher grades in class and a better aptitude for critical thinking. You’re still going to have that aggressive stutter walk that all punks have, whether true or false. But this time around it features the heady swagger attained by intellectual and cultural savvy. The sorority girls won’t look at you the same way because the jock-meets-skater thing will die, but they’ll still like you for actually being “different … in a good way.”