Patriot Lame

Pank Shovel submits to an ideological litmus test and scores poorly, according to ex-guitarist Tom Mestnick

How did Mestnick become such a hard-line leftist that, to him, even lovable, liberal lesbians lack a left-enough lean, you ask? "He went to college for, like, 30 years!" sniped Slag.

Actually, it was 12 years Mestnick spent wandering Colorado's halls of higher education, directing most of his energy toward social-change activism, but music-making (usually in a classic-rock vein) was always in the picture. Primarily due to his politics, he said he always found himself in bands with gay women, a streak he began in 1993 and continued on through Pank Shovel. But Mestnick never bargained for a pair of Christian, patriotic lesbians.

"I believe in God," commented Slag dryly, "and that was a big problem for Tom too."

He responded, "I just assumed lesbians were cynical, never willing to trust George Bush or the Republican Party no matter what. But Genny and Marissa were not that way at all."

Mestnick either wouldn't or couldn't temper his hard-line rhetoric in the wake of the terrorist tragedy.

"I hate patriotism," he spouted. "I've never liked flags. People ask, "Aren't you proud to be an American?' I didn't do much to be an American other than be born here. My parents fucked here -- that was about it."

Such divisions in fundamental principles, it would appear, didn't bring out the best of Pank Shovel. Mestnick continued to level accusations at his former bandmates, especially Mikeo, who has committed the sin of being born into an upper-middle-class family and having not a care in the world. "She's 23 and loving life. She's never heard of Noam Chomsky or Howard Zinn -- she couldn't even tell you what decade the Vietnam War happened in."

Alas, Mestnick explained that he left his copy of Manufacturing Consent back home in Denver. If only...

"I don't know what that guy's problem is," said Mikeo. "He's a freak. He thinks he's an intellectual, but I think he's losing his mind."

But Mestnick believes he was the voice of reason in a band gone astray from its ideological center: "Part of me is so pissed and disappointed at them for being so that way. I just think it's the role of musicians to be the voice of peace and compassion. Creativity and bloodlust don't go hand in hand, and I don't know where Pank Shovel is going to end up on that. Maybe they'll get their heads together.

"I miss the music a lot, but I know it was the right thing to do."

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