I'm second from the left.
The night I got taxed.
When I was 14, growing up in New York City, my favorite band was Operation Ivy. They were a California punk band, famous for their simple, driving power-chord riffs and rabid distrust of all things establishment. In a way, maybe it isn't so curious that they spoke so strongly to an East Coast, middle-class, turtle-necked nerd like me.
After all, music has long inspired teenage boys to experience their hormones in a powerful way, and I was no exception.
Operation Ivy gave me a way to feel like a bad-ass without having to commit to metal spikes and mohawks. But it was more than that for me, too. Listening to that album helped me get through fights with my parents, stress at school and many a bad pimple. I'd put that disc in, and it would pump me up to go out and blow off some steam — in my own deeply non-rebellious way.
At 14, though, blowing off steam in Manhattan presented its own problems. We couldn't get into bars or clubs, and sitting in the middle of a pre-Giuliani Central Park wasn't wise unless you were packing mace.
So when my friends and I found out that a "club for kids" had opened up on the Upper East Side, we were thrilled. It was a big townhouse filled with pool tables, Dr. Pepper and moody lighting, designed to be a safe place for teens to hang out in a drug- and alcohol-free environment.
One Saturday evening, a few of my buddies and I drenched ourselves in Drakkar Noir and headed over. I put on my Operation Ivy and steeled myself for what was to be a night filled with teenage excitement. Of course that didn't happen.
The party itself was pretty anti-climactic, and we spoke to no one, except each other. After an hour of pounding silver cans of Nestea, we decided to call it a night.
We set off around the corner to get bagels with cream cheese and jelly. But we never got that far.
That night, I was in for robbery, police chases and the end of my love affair with Operation Ivy.