This is Trevor Curtis. I met him a few years ago at a book signing in Cleveland. He is intelligent, ballsy, and likes to think outside of the box.
He has something to say I think a lot of us need to hear.
Pull your Punk Card
First off, let me thank C. Bryan Brown for this opportunity to talk to all of you. Let’s hope his hand gets better, and that he’s back to torturing imaginary people soon. Less chance of him turning on the real ones that way, too.
Most of you don’t know me, or have never heard of me. That’s understandable, considering I’ve only had one short story published in the last ten years, and it’s in an anthology that’s since gone out of print.
Now let us wait for the people who just lost interest. I don’t blame them. We all want to be successful, and I’m not Stephen King. Hell, I’m not even Nick Pacione. But I do qualify in one regard: Internet Loudmouth.
We, as a people, are a community of cranks. The people of the Net bitch at a speed not measurable by quantum mechanics. This has led to the rise of the Internet Loudmouth. They make up the backbone of Reddit, 4Chan, and Gamer-gate. If Utopia occurred tomorrow, someone would post on Facebook about how it messed up their birthday. But much like Soylent Green, these masses have one important use: They can be a force for what can be an important point in a writer’s (or anyone’s) life: Getting their Punk card pulled.
I’m a long time pro wrestling fan, and also a fan of punk rock music. So when a wrestler appeared on the scene in the mid 2000’s talking about being straight edge (a subset of punk rock fans known for disavowing drugs and booze) and tatted up the wazoo, it caught my eye. And over the years, I watched as that wrestler, CM Punk, rose to the top tier of pro wrestling. He was there, and yet, not there. He wrestled better matches than anyone, but wasn’t held in high regard by those in charge.
All that changed on the night of June 27, 2011. Punk was given the mic and told to say whatever he wanted. His contract was up in three weeks. In five legendary minutes, he went from zero to hero, cutting down the entire wrestling culture, backstage politics, and eviscerating the underdog character of his opponent, perennial cereal box hero John Cena. It put him into a rarefied air, that even now, after quitting the business, fans still chant his name.
In a documentary produced later that year, Punk talked about his internal debate involving staying as a wrestler. One of his friends asked him what he wanted. Punk said he wanted things in the business to change. His friend said, “You can’t change anything sitting at home on the couch.” Punk wrestled another three years before injuries forced him out of the business, but that moment stuck with me.
This year, WWE Films produced another documentary about Paul Heyman, currently seen as a manager on WWE TV. For die hard wrestling fans, Paul is much more. He was the mad genius behind ECW (Extreme Championship Wrestling), the last real alternative to mainstream wrestling that has ever been produced. Again, the fact that the company went belly up in 2001, and they still chant its name, thirteen years later, speaks to how much impact that little company had.
Even if you never watch a wrestling match in your life, both of these films are worth watching. These are both men who had no business, physically or socially, ever being giants in the wrestling business. But they both seized opportunity when it came knocking, threw it into a well, and made opportunity put the lotion in the basket.
In Paul Heyman’s case, it came when he was offered a chance to go setup and promote a small promotion called Eastern Championship Wrestling. Heyman was working in various spots, doing some marketing, and generally giving up on it after a decade in front of and behind the camera. His friend, legendary Alabama wrestler, Eddie Gilbert told him: “Are you going to come up here and do what you always talked about doing, or are you going to sit at home and bitch. Because if you do, then all you’re doing is bitching.”
I love Heyman’s response: “He had a point. He’d pulled my Punk card.”
Everyone who’d seen the first documentary I talked about knew exactly what he meant.
Which brings the question I want to ask all of you: What are you going to do about it? Are you going to write that novel that’s been sitting in your head? Are you going to go try out for that part? Are you going to apply for that promotion? Are you going to volunteer to help with some problem you’ve spent ten hours tweeting about? Are you going to go to amateur night at the local comedy club?
OR ARE YOU JUST GOING TO SIT THERE AND BITCH?
I’ve recently had my own personal Punk card moment. It’s not fun. And no, you don’t get that story. Because I’m not there yet. I haven’t done what I set out to do. Maybe I’ll post on my own blog (trevorcurtis23.com), or maybe this is some big promotional con job.
I can tell you it isn’t, but that doesn’t matter. What does matter is you. If one person reads this, and the world gets one more person trying to write, or one more person trying to help, or fix, or just one more person getting off their ass, shutting this off and doing something, then the time spent on this has been worth it.
This concludes the trip inside of my brain. Someone’s going to complain that this hasn’t been about horror. Those people don’t know true horror. True horror isn’t zombies, werewolves, and the latest dumb way Eli Roth has found to kill people. The true horror is the unrealized life, the dying man who never gets his shot, the life almost lived. That’s a horror Hollywood can’t even come close to replicating.
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