Roger Miret’s Riot: Tales of Love, Loss and Struggle in the New York Hardcore scene
It doesn’t matter that you’re an agnostic or a believer of the band because Agnostic Front aren’t the type of guys that care about that. Particularly Roger Miret, who makes no apologies for who he was, even if he no longer abides by the same code as he did while part of 80s Lower East Side New York Hardcore crew.
No matter his new life – fortunately not as a born-again Christian or as part of some other dubious cult – in his bio “My Riot,” Roger is totally comfortable with telling quite a few episodes that explain why A.F.’s motto was unity, while the reality in D.C., L.A., Boston or Europe was quite different. The first part of the book kind of reads like a Warriors-meets-The Outsiders, with a lot of gang brawls – even if hardcore guys were not really a gang like Crips or Bloods – a lot of fights and certainly no lack of situations in which Roger, or one of his friends, beat the shit out of someone just because of a concept as abstract as respect. Since he is the one that puts himself out there, it’s easy to judge him for events that are so displaced from the reality of most readers, yet not only is he later on the book the one that casts the first stone on himself, but also there seems to be a lot of attenuating circumstances, like poverty, an abusive father and stepfather, and the seriously tough New York street life. Surely that doesn’t mean that everyone grows up the same way, but there seems to be a pattern, considering that there were a lot of people on the same wavelength. And if you can, even for a minute, not worry about the right and the wrong side of things, it’s fun to read about all those bashings of people that considered themselves to be something else – and most of all, the part about robbing yuppies.
But alas, karma’s a motherfucker and even if Roger was locked up unjustly, whatever we do comes back to bite us in the ass, and maybe that was the reason he spent some time in jail, a subject he discusses without the least bit of shame but with all the regret in the world. Not only because he was framed and caught, but also because, from where he stands, he was just trying to provide for his family, and no matter how much he loved his band, it just wasn’t enough to pay the bills. In fact, that seems to be a constant throughout the book: the fight to make ends meet. And that’s great because for someone that is usually considered a hardcore superstar, it’s a clear assumption of humility to admit flat out that money was always lacking throughout his life. Which is funny, considering all the times that selling out was the topic of the day.
Jail was pretty much the turning point for Roger’s life, and from then on, he abstained from walking the wrong side of the tracks. Even if the band never really stopped being a part of his life, he got a job as an electrician in Arizona, where he lives now, as a way to complement his income.
Amidst all this, we are not only presented with the great story of the growth of the hardcore scene, but also with his love life, his relationship with brother Freddy of Madball fame and the ever-changing line-up and direction of Agnostic Front. There’s also all the times that A.F., and Roger Miret himself, were accused of being Nazis, and how he finds that ridiculous not only because he is Cuban but also because of all the fights he had with racist skinheads.
Maybe this isn’t one of the most libertarian (as in “leftist” libertarian) guys out there and his view of hardcore might seem absurd 40 years on, with all the street brawls and cries for unity, but not only it is great to see someone assuming mistakes without wiping out and still standing strong – even if you don’t see eye to eye with Roger, or maybe especially if you don’t, it’s definitely a worthy read and an interesting and fun part of hardcore punk history. And this was surely another life saved by the scene.