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Suburban Youth

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I grew up in a small suburban town in New Jersey with a main street\, a movie theatre and a train that ra n to the city—all within walking distance of my house. When I was in middle school\, my best friend Geoff and his family moved into a half-completed s ubdivision in a rural part of southern New Jersey. Over many years of exten ded stays it became my second home.

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But going to visit was depressi ng. The subdivision was street after street named for popular trees\, lined with identical houses\, and bordering construction sites and cornfields. I t was nothingness. The closest thing you could bike to was other future sub divisions. Waiting until we could drive was a slow torture relieved only by cable TV and the occasional family trip to Friendly’s. Even when we could drive\, the closest sign of culture was the mall with Chili’s\, Barnes & \; Noble\, and a movie theater—a culture that quickly grew dull. Even to a sixteen-year-old\, it was stunningly vacuous and unfulfilling.

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Duri ng our teen years the area got more developed\, transforming the town into one giant housing development: a maze of curved streets with lawns running to the curb\, leading to cul-de-sac after cul-de-sac\, dotted with the occa sional gated entrance and communal pool area. With this suburban sprawl cam e a feeling of inescapable isolation. It was as though we had been sequeste red in a safe and idealized version of childhood where nothing bad could ha ppen. We were ensconced in the safety of suburbia with the rest of the worl d held at bay by an hour commute and a rigid set of landscaping rules.

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Our feelings of safety and isolation only served to amplify the anxieti es faced by most teens. Life in a community designed to foster the perfect upbringing made pressures to be popular\, to date\, to get into college\, a nd to live up to expectations all the more crushing. Inevitably these press ures were vented at parties with well-dressed jocks doing coke that were of ten broken up by random acts of violence.  This tension eventually culminat ed when the local high school exploded into an open race riot.

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Out of this dystopia\, we discovered hardcore punk rock\, and it became a refug e. It was music for us\, played by other people our age from suburban backg rounds who were angry at the same things we were. And best of all\, it wasn ’t happening in some far off place like New York City. It was right down th e street in the basements of suburban homes and local VFW halls.

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It was around this time that I started photographing hardcore bands. It was m y way into a world outside of suburbia\, a way to escape to something bette r than a shiny new subdivision.

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- Carl Gunhouse

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DTEND:20110130 DTSTAMP:20141030T152236 DTSTART:20110107 GEO:35.97934;-83.917373 LOCATION:The Birdhouse\,800 North 4th \nKnoxville\, TN 37917 SEQUENCE:0 SUMMARY:Suburban Youth\, Carl Gunhouse\, Christine Rogers UID:145173 END:VEVENT BEGIN:VEVENT DTEND:20110107T230000 DTSTAMP:20141030T152236 DTSTART:20110107T190000 GEO:35.97934;-83.917373 LOCATION:The Birdhouse\,800 North 4th \nKnoxville\, TN 37917 SEQUENCE:0 SUMMARY:Suburban Youth\, Carl Gunhouse\, Christine Rogers UID:145174 END:VEVENT END:VCALENDAR