To understand the ZBQ story you need to understand my story. My name is Jason.

When I was about 13 years old, I fell in love. Now while this was at the dawn of puberty for me, this was no passing crush or flight of fancy spurned on by suddenly active hormones. No, this was different- and what's more, this was a love affair that would continue for the rest of my life.

The object of my affections wasn't a person, however. You see, my skinny white ass fell in love with punk rock music. The first time I listened to the grainy dub of "Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols" my cousin had sent up to me from Halifax, it spoke to something inside of me I didn't even know existed up until that moment. Untapped frustration, an unnamed (and hitherto unacknowledged) sense of not belonging. A sense that there was a culture for "the rest of us." I grew up in the 1970s and 80s, exposed mostly to whatever was on the mainstream radio and television at the time. And mainstream culture in those days was extra bland, safe and syrupy. All of the dull edges had been pre-rounded off for safe and quick consumption. And it bored me to tears.

Contrast that with the Pistols singing about abortions, "No Future", anarchy and destroying the monarchy and it was like a shot of pure adrenaline straight to my young impressionable brain. Once whetted, the appetite craved more: following that initial exposure I soon discovered the Clash, Black Flag, Crass, the Dead Kennedys and a whole world of irreverence just waiting for my eager brain to soak it all up. I wanted to be part of this world I had only heard fleeting rumors and jokes about: I wanted to be a Punk Rocker.

There was only one problem: I was a 13 year old geek living in a very small town in the Annapolis Valley. The big city of Halifax, 2 hours down the road, had a cool little t-shirt shop called Ultimo where you could pick up shirts emblazoned with punk screen prints, but that seemed a world away, and I didn't have a lot of money for stuff like that anyway. My Dad ran a corner store where he sold a variety of different things- groceries and snacks, of course, but also some hunting supplies and a small selection of clothing. We lived above the store and my sisters and I used to sneak downstairs to pilfer chocolate milk, candy and chips at night- a teenager's dream. One night I impulsively grabbed a brown flannel button-up shirt and a pack of 3 white t-shirts (sorry Dad, I hope history exonerates me). The flannel I gleefully chopped the collar and sleeves off of so I could look more like the dudes on the back of the DOA single I had bought on my previous visit to Halifax. But I had other plans for the t-shirts.

My mom at the time was going into Halifax nearly every week as she was attending Dalhousie University. On one of her return trips she brought me back a pack of t-shirt paints- this funky ink that came out of a tube through a very narrow ballpoint pen type of thing. It allowed you to "draw" whatever you wanted on a t-shirt with pretty good accuracy, though it took quite a bit of time and patience.

I had always loved drawing and I took to the paints with great enthusiasm. Before long I had my very own one-of-a-kind Clash, Dead Boys and Crass t-shirts I could wear with pride along with my home-styled zipper jeans and surplus store combat boots. It fed my juvenile need for identity and I found I really loved wearing things that I had created. A spark had been lit.

Next time: fun and hijinks in Montreal and Vancouver. The 90s were a hell of a drug.