Written by: Zoe
Christopher Gutierrez is not just your average writer and spoken word artist. He’s a “dirt poet”. He “lives deliberately”. He’s “unbreakable”, he’s the hardcore and punk rock “kid’ moshing and air-drumming at all the local shows, and he’s straight edge.
But he’s no one-dimensial punk dude. Christopher’s work talks about everything—while his books are memoirs, his spoken word CD has him ranting about love, laziness, friendships, discrimination, his past, and much more. Go to the myspace for Christopher’s spoken word work (myspace.com/thedeadxstoppublishingcompany) and you can hear three tracks, each about three completely different things: relationships, telling the world fuck you and being the best you can, and his past indecisions about his life. Take a look at his influences, and you’ll see everything ranging from John Lydon and Henry Rollins to kittens and the sound of breaking glass.
Christopher has been straight edge for almost 20 years, having claimed edge as a teenager in 1988, and it’s a topic Christopher has many opinions about. So I asked Christopher what straight edge means to him.
“To me, the straight edge is a philosphy” Christopher began. “Straight edge is always evolving, it’s always moving. It’s not like ‘ok, I don’t drink and I don’t smoke and I don’t fuck and so therefore I’m straight edge’. No, that’s not how it works. It’s a philosophy, and I think that a lot of people forget that and when they forget that, it dilutes the message behind the entire thing. And it’s frustrating, it really is, because I look around and straight edge is something different to everybody because it’s a philosophy and so how I am supposed to tell you how to believe in something?”
“To me,” Christopher continued, “I know how that [straight edge] is for me, I know exactly what that [straight edge] means for me. It means that the personal is political, and that if I want to change the world, I have to change it through my personal affairs, I have to do it through treating my mom with kindness, appreciating the things that I’ve been given, telling people thank you, holding doors for people who deserve it–I mean it spans everything! It has everything to do with where you spend your dollars, it has everything to do with how you spend your dollars. If you have, will you give to the have-nots? Do you want to support a corporation that supports genocide and death and misery? And I see it as my responsibility to not tell people how to believe, but explain to them why I believe what I believe.”
“If ketchup killed four people tomorrow, wouldn’t it be pulled off the shelves?” asked Christopher. “If there was an outbreak of tainted chicken mcnuggets in Kansas, wouldn’t they get pulled off the shelves? But cigerettes kill 144, 000 people a year, and yet those are still being sold. It’s a hipocrisy, a blatant hipocrisy. And I feel that it’s my right, to not go around and force this down people’s throats, but it’s my responsibilty, if someone asks me why I am straight edge, if sombody asks me why I live the lifestyle I live, to explain that to them and say this is why this makes sense to me. Take it or leave it, it’s your life to live, your mistakes to make. But for me, this is what’s right, and this is why it’s right”
Christopher Gutierrez has a spoken word CD out entitled The Dirt Of An Electric Boy, and he is touring coffee shops nationwide in support of it. His first book, On the Upswing of Life, Love, and Regret is sold out and in the process of being reprinted; it will be rereleased on June 8th. Christopher is also releasing a new book of memoirs, “A Life Deliberate” on June 8th. For more information on the books, CD, and speakings, you can go to www.askheychris.com or www.myspace.com/thedeadxstoppublishingcompany. Christopher also keeps a public journal where he writes about his life, his opinions, and much more (much of his spoken word work is taken from entries on his journal), and you can find it at either www.askheychris.livejournal.com or www.askheychris.com.