Editorial: My Punk Bow tie

Trent Ernst. Editor


In the last six months or so, I’ve been trying to …well, not dress my age or anything like that, but at least to not dress like a 45-year-old dude trying to dress like a 20-year-old dude.

Which is tough because fashion and me we both agree, I hates it, and it hates me. I’ve never really given much consideration to my appearance and as a result defaulted to the fat slob look: loose fitting clothes, most of it from the early 1990s.

But for the last few years I’ve been considering upscaling my wardrobe.

For the longest time, I thought I would wear jeans and a tee shirt, but toss a jacket over top to dress it up, but about six months ago, I inherited most of my dad’s wardrobe as he’s been moved into a long-term care home.

My dad was not a snazzy dresser, either, but he was a proper dresser, so suddenly my closet, once the home to tee-shirts with ratty collars is now overflowing with dress shirts and blazers. And ties. I’m still not sure how I feel about ties.

However, there was this purple bow tie at the back of the closet that I hadn’t worn in years that I decided to break out, for irony sake.

It’s a rather funny looking purple strap on bow tie that barely fits around my neck, but for some reason people keep commenting on it, so I keep wearing it. Not, you know, every day or anything, but once in a while. When it seems to match the outfit.

Now, it might seem, to outward appearances, that I am embracing my inner nerd, by wearing the uniform of evil librarians and nebbish professors everywhere, but, you see, it’s an ironic bow tie. It’s a bow tie with a history.

Back in the mid-90s (which, as you might remember, is when most of my clothes date from), I was living in the Vancouver area and pretending to be a musician. Mostly, I just wandered about a lot, worked subsistence jobs and went to a lot of artsy events as befit my position as Arts and Entertainment Coordinator at the Douglas College student newspaper, the Other Press.

Just down from Douglas College in New Westminster, there was a…place. I don’t even know if you could call it a club. Frankly I don’t think it was. I don’t remember what it was during the day, but every once in a while, it would host musical events, which I would show up to.

My circle of friends intersected with another musician/artist, Paula Spurr, who at the time was best known for having been a DJ at Vancouver’s much missed and then only shortly dead alternative radio station, Coast 1040.

I bumped into her and her husband at one of these gigs, a punk show that featured a bunch of bands that I’d never heard of, and have never heard since, though I remember the drummer from one of those bands had the fastest foot I’ve ever seen in my life.

The music was loud and fast and the floor in front of the stage was filled with teens and, in the midst of it all, Paula’s husband Lance, dressed in a pair of Doc Martins, jean shorts and an ugly purple bow tie.

Yes, the very one.

At the end of the show, he pulled off the bow tie and offered it to the assembled crowd. The teens were uninterested, but I put up my hand and he handed me the sweaty strip of fabric.

These days when I wear it, people think I’m being all professorial, or at least, trying to look professional, I smile to myself, knowing the punk rock history of the tie. Sometimes things aren’t what they seem on the outside.