Punk Parents

With the "No Future" generation deciding to breed, are we headed for anarchy in the pre-K?

"Joe Ann," Workman admits, "has never seen us play live. I don't think it's appropriate." Joe Ann has been to rehearsals, though, and her favorite song is "Smoke," an old Stinkerbell single. Workman knew it was Joe Ann's favorite when the tyke was reprimanded by her preschool teacher for singing the song's chorus -- "Who blew smoke up my ass?" -- during class. She's a precocious kid who knows all the words to "Halloween" by the Misfits, likes Beverly Hills 90210 and refers to the full-mouth Frenching of the show's libidinal stars as "the married kiss."

"At least," Workman sighs, "she associates it with marriage."
Workman found out she was pregnant after two beers at one of her then-husband's shows made her sick, so she quit smoking and hanging out in clubs, at least for the duration of her pregnancy.

"Once I got married and had a child, the responsibilities changed," she says. "I want to have a nice, loving home. We do set rules. I have so much going on in my life, trying to make money and raise a child and have a family, that I just have to know what my priorities are." Workman polices the TV, was upset to find out, too late, that Ace Ventura: Pet Detective was not exactly her idea of a children's film and worries about the same things most parents worry about. "AIDS scares me," she says, "crack cocaine scares me, teenagers being raped and murdered ... there's just so much scary stuff going on in society."

And the band?
"It all blends in really well," she says. "I can be conservative to a point in my home life, but when I go out to play I can become wild and do it a little different." And how will Workman deal with it when Joe Ann hits 14 and starts going out to play herself? "It makes me kind of nervous," she admits, "but I guess she's just going to have to find out what's going on in the world when she gets that age."

She'll find out then, or maybe she's finding out now. Just the other day, Workman picked Joe Ann up after school to discover that her daughter had taken dull scissors to her pants, cutting them from knee to thigh. She'd chopped holes in her shirt. The clothes were a frustrating loss, but Workman understands.

"I guess that's kind of punk rock," she sighs. "They were tie-dyed pants, too."

Leesa Harrington was 19 -- nine-and-a-half-months pregnant with Careisse and wondering when the baby would finally decide to appear -- when she went to see a Brubek, Wakeman and Howe concert. Halfway through the show, Careisse started kicking so hard that Harrington had to leave. Maybe the unborn critic didn't like art rock.

A home delivery via midwife followed, and six years later, an angelically round-faced Careisse is bouncing on a couch in the suburban rental home that she and her look-alike mom share with a revolving, semi-communal cast of musicians and hangers-on, flipping through Harrington's Ozzy Osbourne autobiography. "Guess which one I like," Careisse asks at every picture, giggling, then pointing at Ozzy. "Show what you learned," Harrington suggests, and Careisse folds the middle digits of her left hand down to the palm, displaying the two-fingered prong of heavy metal Satanists and satirists everywhere, waving the hand in the air and shrieking with laughter.

Harrington is one of rock's last great true believers, her bedroom plastered with concert posters, backstage snapshots and Xeroxed playbills reflecting a catholic array of stoner tastes: Iron Maiden, Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, Sabbath, Yes, local bands too numerous and varied to mention. As a guitarist and drummer, Harrington's been in most of the local punk rock outfits -- Josephus, Stinkerbell, Manhole, Joint Chiefs.

These days she plays mostly drums, anchoring Carolyn Wonderland and the Imperial Monkeys, a rootsy rock four-piece fronted by a pink-haired Joplinesque singer. Harrington's nose ring and leather studs are minor anomalies in a band that tends to attract a nuevo-hippie element, but the band members are all mutual friends, and Harrington can drum for anyone who needs a solid beat. Besides, the Imperial Monkeys have a small label deal and a booking agency that sends the band across America, and will send them soon to Europe. It's a working band that actually makes money on the road, and Harrington is a single mom with a born musician's drive to succeed on her own terms. "I don't think I'd be a very good example as a parent," she says, "if I gave up doing what I really want to do."

What Harrington does, of course, means that she's sometimes away from home, touring with the band, and since Careisse isn't old enough to go on the road with mom, Harrington sometimes relies on Careisse's dad and the band's extended family to help out. Careisse thinks her mom's nose ring is weird, and she thinks she probably wants to be a teacher when she grows up.

But she also digs drums, and Harrington freaked one day when she walked into a practice space occupied by the Dave Dove Paul Duo and saw that the impromptu free-jazz drummer sitting in was actually Careisse, looking like a 40 percent-sized reproduction of her drum-wailing mom.

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