Quick. What do Ice-T and Houston's own punk-rock elder statesman Christian Arnheiter of The Hates have in common? Well, both are respected lectures at institutes of higher learning.
Arnheiter will be guest lecturing from 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Wednesday during the Popular Music of the Americas Since 1840 class in room 108 at the University of Houston main campus. The class covers various popular music styles from the U.S., Mexico, Latin America, and the Caribbean including rock, jazz, blues, and (obviously) punk. Currently, students are studying the music of the 1970s.
"I'll be lecturing on music from the 1970's, including punk rock and disco," says Arnheiter. "I specifically speak to the scenes in New York and London, though we touch on major bands from other cities as well. As the unit deals with the philosophy, fashion, and cultural impact of each genre, I talk about those things too."
Arnheiter is not exactly the person who comes to mind when you think of sober college scholarship. Rocks Offs can't even count the number of times we've seen people crane their heads to follow his leather-clad and liberty-spiked presence as he zipped by on his moped. Nonetheless, when it comes to the School of Oi! it would be next to impossible to find a more learned scholar.
Arnheiter's tenure as a punk rocker is longer than your humble reporter's lifespan. Inspired by seeing the Sex Pistols live, he formed what journalist Bert Woodall called, "Houston's first and last punk band" in 1979. Since then it's been an endless stream of great albums, loud life and a dedication to the genre's roots. But does simply living the life qualify him to be a lecturer?
"On a professional level? No, to be honest," Arnheiter says. "I was asked to do this because I grew up in the era in question and have always been an avid music fan. Back then, I read every publication that I could get my hands on about the music around me, and I still do.
"I have even been fortunate enough to have interviewed several musicians of the era back when I co-hosted a radio show on KPFT called Destroy All Music," the singer continues. "So, between what I have read and what I have lived, I have amassed a bit of knowledge that does include personal experience."
The apparent contradictions between the rage of punk rock and the calm study of a university course is something that has been a part of Arnheiter's life for many years. By day he was a surveyor for the City of Houston, all the while sporting the famous mohawk that is his nighttime punk-rock trademark. For a band called The Hates that sings music to match, its front man is renowned for his Zen-like politeness offstage.
For those who aren't able to attend the lecture, have no fear. All the lessons to be learned from Arnheiter's amazing life and career will soon be available in pocket form. After months of handwritten work, lovingly retyped by a patient fiancé, Arnheiter is well into the second draft of an autobiography and history of The Hates.
Arnheiter plans to self-publish the book through Amazon's CreateSpace program, adding a stellar piece of merch to Hates shows as well as giving everyone a glimpse into what it's like to be in love with punk rock and Houston for 30 years. Rocks Off can't wait to get our hands on a copy.