The Queers – Beyond the Valley

The Queers
Beyond the Valley

There was this guy I knew from high school named Tom Sallinger. (Name changed to protect the innocent.) Tom was a pretty decent guy: The school’s only die-hard AV boy, Tom was a symbol of integrity as the only one who knew how to operate the school auditorium’s sound system, including the teachers. Let me describe him for you: Tom grew a “pubie” mustache in seventh grade, far before he should have attempted it. And Tom never shaved it off, even into his 20’s, so it still looked like a 13-year-old’s undeveloped pubic hair mustache! His hair was very curly, but he liked to have long hair. His parents are very religious, so Tom grew his hair to the longest allowable length, just touching the shoulders, and short on top. He wore a leather jacket with dangling fringes and could be seen sporting his black Queensryche/Operation:Mindcrime concert shirt nearly every other day. You could always count on this, and you could always count on Tom: Whenever he made a promise, it was a done deal, and he never went back on his word. A while back I saw him for the first time in about five years, and guess what! Tom STILL had the pubic mustache, STILL wore the Operation:Mindcrime T-shirt and STILL HAD THE FRILLY LEATHER JACKET!!!! Now, is Tom hopelessly out of touch? Or is he the epitome of integrity, the punkest punk that ever punked?

The Queers are older than dirt. I’ve heard their name for as far back as I can remember knowing what punk rock was, and I probably heard them over the PA at a punk show at some point, but I never bothered to seek out any recordings. I missed out, but thanks to the persistence of the Queers, I can feel like an original punker, even though I would have been only six years old! But, all sarcasm aside, the Queers aren’t gonna stop for me or anyone else. This is their 9-to-5; this is their bread and butter. They might as well keep making the music that made Green Day rich – they helped invent it, after all. Musical innovation aside, I’d rather have a new Queers album than a new Motley Crue album.

As far as beer-drinking, bar-fighting punk goes, this is the right album to listen to. The tunes are tried and true three-chord pop, played really fast and real sloppy, and they are more fun than your friend puking in your toilet on his 21st birthday. I would choose this over Blink 182 any day. You get tuneful car-radio hits, and the lyric sheet will get younger fans grounded for a week! If you are from the school of offensive = funny, (or if you’re a 14-year-old male) the lyrics should make you smile. The humor is simply too stupid to be considered offensive. No cutesy suburbapunk or odes to the band’s girlfriends to be found here. Instead we get “Stupid Fucking Vegan,” a song that I would have thought was funny during my four-year stint in Syracuse, NY. And any heterosexual guy who has gone through a really bad relationship will shout along with “Strangle the Girl” and feel much better. Too bad O.J. Simpson didn’t listen to this and get those murderous urges out of his system before he acted on them! Song title of the year: “Journey to the Center of Your Empty Fucking Skull.” The Queers make it clear that they hate Nazis, vegans, rich boys, stupid girls, and many other folks. The Queers probably hate you, too. Whoever you are.

Concerning my opening paragraph, punk integrity is difficult to peg. Does Tom Sallinger’s unwillingness to change have anything to do with punk? Only if you consider punk as a form of music that should not evolve, a form that should stay as raw and primitive as possible. The Queers would not call Tom Sallinger punk; they’d probably call him an asshole. But what’s the difference? When I hear the Queers, who are still playing the same three chords, still giving the world a middle finger, and still intolerant of anyone or anything not resembling their breed of punker, I think of Tom Sallinger. And Tom was a fun guy to hang out with, back in the day.