A Beloved Punk Song, Re-Imagined As Cabaret By Amanda Palmer

I think most people who listen to punk rock would agree that “Institutionalized” by Suicidal Tendencies is one of the true classics of the genre. The story of how the singer got put in an institution, but told from the tongue-in-cheek perspective of someone who hasn’t yet taken responsibility for his actions. Mike’s also presumed to be in the institution when writing the song. Sensing all those layers made it so much funnier. And of course if you were institutionalized in the 80s, as I was, this was it.

Sometimes I try to do things, and it just doesn’t work out the way I want it to, and I get real frustrated and I’m like, I try hard to do it, and I, like, take my time, and it doesn’t work out the way I want it to. It’s like, I concentrate on it real hard but it doesn’t work out. And everything I do and everything I try it never turns out. It’s like, I need time to figure these things out, but there’s always someone there going, “Hey, Mike, you know, we’ve been noticing you’ve been having a lot of problems lately, you know, you should, maybe, get away, and like, maybe you should talk about it, you’ll feel a lot better.” And I go, “No, it’s okay, you know, I’ll figure it out. Just leave me alone, I’ll figure it out. You know, I’m just working on myself.” And they go, “Well you know if you want to talk about it I’ll be here you know and you’ll probably feel a lot better if you talk about it, so why don’t you talk about it?” I go, “No, I don’t want to, I’m okay, I’ll figure it out myself.” But they just keep bugging me and they just keep bugging me and it builds up inside. You’re gonna be institutionalized. You’ll come out brainwashed with bloodshot eyes. You won’t have any say. They’ll brainwash you until you see their way. I’m not crazy! (Institutionalized!) You’re the one who’s crazy! (Institutionalized!) You’re driving me crazy! (Institutionalized!) They stick me in an institution, said it was the only solution to give me the needed professional help to protect me from the enemy, myself.

I was in my room and I was just like staring at the wall thinking about everything, but then again I was thinking about nothing, and then my mom came in and I didn’t even know she was there. She called my name and I didn’t even hear it and then she started screaming, “Mike! Mike!” And I go, “What, what’s the matter?” And she goes, “What’s the matter with you?” I go, “There’s nothing wrong, mom.” And she goes, “Don’t tell me that, you’re on drugs!” I go, “No, mom, I’m not on drugs, I’m okay. I was just thinking, you know, why don’t you get me a Pepsi?” And she goes, “No, you’re on drugs!” I go, “Mom, I’m okay, I’m just thinking.” She goes, “No, you’re not thinking, you’re on drugs. Normal people don’t act that way.” I go, “Mom just give me a Pepsi, please. All I want is a Pepsi.” And she wouldn’t give it to me. All I wanted was a Pepsi, just one Pepsi. And she wouldn’t give it to me, just a Pepsi. They give you a white shirt with long sleeves tied around you’re back, you’re treated like thieves. Drug you up because they’re lazy. It’s too much work to help a crazy. I’m not crazy! (Institutionalized!) You’re the one who’s crazy! (Institutionalized!) You’re driving me crazy! (Institutionalized!) They stick me in an institution, said it was the only solution to give me the needed professional help to protect me from the enemy, myself.

I’m sitting in my room and my mom and my dad came in. They pulled up a chair and they sat down, they go, “Mike, we need to talk to you.” I go, “Okay, what’s the matter?” They go, “Me and your mom have been noticing lately that you’ve been having a lot of problems. You’ve been going off for no reason, and we’re afraid you’re gonna hurt somebody. We’re afraid you’re gonna hurt yourself. So we decided that it would be in your best interest if we put you somewhere where you could get the help that you need.” And I go, “Wait, what are you talking about? We decided? My best interest? How do you know what my best interest is? How can you say what my best interest is? What are you trying to say? I’m crazy? When I went to your schools, I went to your churches, I went to your institutional learning facilities? So how can you say I’m crazy?” They say they’re gonna fix my brain, alleviate my suffering and my pain, but by the time they fix my head, mentally, I’ll be dead. I’m not crazy! (Institutionalized!) You’re the one who’s crazy! (Institutionalized!) You’re driving me crazy! (Institutionalized!) They stick me in an institution, said it was the only solution to give me the needed professional help to protect me from the enemy, myself.

It doesn’t matter, I’ll probably get hit by a car anyway.

Amanda Palmer, as part of Dresden Dolls, pioneered the genre of punk cabaret. This is a perfect example. She does sound like she knows of what she screams.


  1. Ramble Tamble
  2. It Came Out Of The Sky
  3. The Night Time Is The Right Time
  4. Keep On Chooglin’
  5. Wrote A Song For Everyone
  6. Fortunate Son
  7. Up Around The Bend
  8. Bad Moon Rising
  9. Don’t Look Now (It Ain’t You Or Me)
  10. Side O’ The Road
  11. Green River
  12. Travelin’ Band
  13. I Heard It Through The Grapevine
  14. Down On The Corner

Robert Downey Jr Wants You To Know That He Hates Your Blog

My earliest memory of RDJ is the movie Less Than Zero. I was so impressed by it the first time I had seen it — especially Robert Downey Jr, who became a bit of an idol, in his fab bloodstain shirt — I was like, I’ll impress my girlfriend with this movie. She and I were with her family, visiting her uncle’s family over Christmas. He was a Methodist minister. For my girl and I it was a wonderful experience. My introduction to spooning. Our kisses in the winter cornfields across the road. And watching Less Than Zero on Christmas Eve with the minister’s family. “What’s happening, Dad?” — “The man is performing oral sex on the other man, in order to pay for drugs.” That was a tense moment.

I could relate to RDJ’s descent into addiction, though I never did take to cocaine the way he did. I think I was aware of how little I could afford. He was aware of how much he could. I guess that’s something else to relate to. Fiscal awareness. But I do get the impression he hates blogs and bloggers, so though there’s nothing here in this post to really say, I thought I’d be deliberately annoying.

The Confusing Reality Of Steve Albini And Big Black

While investigating Steve Albini’s latest band on YouTube, I came across a comment where someone pointed out the well-known fact that Steve Albini is an asshole, only to be insulted by the guy who had put the video up — someone who didn’t see the irony in reacting the way he did.

The legendary Steve Albini apparently being a dick in real life is just what people say. It also informed his approach to the way he made music in Big Black. The name of the band itself was perfect for putting people out of ease. Liberals would worry about whether or not it was racist, and racists would be put off by the imagery of the “big black guy”. (The one thing racists are supposed to be most afraid of.) Like any punk rocker with a chip on his shoulder, Albini made outrageous statements that he refused to explain. He wrote songs about violent/taboo thoughts and daydreams, but made them real, with dark, scary characters doing the narrative. And he didn’t explain that he wasn’t those characters.

Of course the way to talk to someone on one of your own videos is politely and kindly. And the way for any punk rocker to talk to any other punk rocker is politely and kindly, in my opinion. It’s stupid to do less. No one should feel obligated to put on the jerk persona in order to be a fan of hardcore music.