December 5, 2014
by Andrew Biernacki

Loud, aggressive, in your face, not giving a single shit about what anyone says or thinks about your taste and what you believe in; over the top, artificially-colored hair, bad tattoos, subscribing to a style that died out decades ago; these are the tenants of two cultural cornerstones: punk rock and Guy Fieri.

As a candy apple red convertible comes crawling into the view of your television screen, your eyes instantly focus on spiked out, bleach blonde-dyed hair, perfectly timed with the vocal embrace of “How’s it going, everybody, Guy Fieri here,” a brief visual and audible moment that will undoubtedly force you to crack a smile.

You want to laugh at his appearance, but, the fact is, Guy Fieri is more punk than you.

Guy Fieri’s aesthetic is a mashup of any given number of punk genres: his hair stands as a tribute to Smash Mouth, a band originally rooted in third wave ska and pop-punk. With those unnaturally golden, pointed locks, Guy symbolizes a living, breathing “Where is the Ska?” sign from Warped Tour. When he’s not dressed in a button down shirt emblazoned with hot rod flames, akin to the tattoo designs on “Oi!” shouting skinheads, Guy can be found in the Straight Edge mosh uniform of camouflage shorts and a black t-shirt, ready to dive into the (barbecue) pit.

What’s that, you want more proof? Look no further than his tattooed flesh. Guy is covered in nearly 20 tattoos. He has all bases of punk covered. Skull and crossbones tattoo? Check. Memorial tattoo? Check. Tattoo with Olde English font representing his offspring (his children, not the band)? Check. Fading Koi fish tattoo? You know it. But what about traditional tattoos? You mean his US eagle? Or perhaps his knife-in-fist or horseshoe? How about a grenade for good measure? Guy’s got ‘em all. In fact, Guy loves tattoos so much, he claims he’s the only chef with a cookbook, in his words, “blown up with tattoo art.” His love for food is true. A tattoo. That ain’t ever coming off.

Upon opening a restaurant in the center of the universe known as New York City, Guy Fieri was greeted with immense criticism. Reviewers simply didn’t possess a palate capable of accepting a menu of forward-thinking tastes derived from such an adventurous, punk-endowed visionary. Some couldn’t handle the fact that a margarita was not only watermelon flavored, but took the appearance of a mind-bending shade of cerulean blue. Others complained about a slow roasted pork shank smothered in syrupy, sweet and spicy General Tso’s sauce; sorry you were unable to appreciate the innovative, interdisciplinary fusion of culinary expertise within the three floors and four walls of Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar.

Know who else offered bold, ultramodern ideas in New York and got a lot of flak from critics; not conforming to traditional standards, being too new, too intense, too out of the box for America’s close minded consciousness to comprehend? A little band called Ramones. How did they respond to such criticism? Only by releasing a dozen more albums and creating an entire genre of music for generations to come. How did the black-and-red-bowling-shirt-donned restaurateur respond? Let’s just say he has eight other eateries currently open across these fine United States, and refuses to slow down. Rocket to Flavor Town.

Selling out is always controversial in the world of punk. Where is the line between spreading your art, and looking for a money grab? Guy Fieri’s merchandise rivals that of both DIY and mainstream punk bands. The internet was once abuzz over The World Is a Beautiful Place and I am No Longer Afraid to Die selling forks. Trumping that tenfold, Guy has an entire series of kitchenware and cookware, assuring fans “[his] kitchen tools hook you up with a bad boy’s take on essentials… exclusively crafted to [his] specifications.” He might as well be saying, “for punx, by punx,” he’s crafting everything his way, and writing his own rules. I’m sure the Post Punk Kitchen is wringing their hands with excitement.

Most impressive in Guy’s cooking collection are, without a doubt, the “rockin’” spatulas. You might be asking, “How can something used to flip flapjacks be punk?” To which Guy would respond, “exclusive tattoo artwork done by my own tattoo guy Joe Leonard was added to these spatulas.” His own “tattoo guy,” people! The same man (er, artist?) who permanently wrote “Kulinary Gangster” on Guy’s upper arm, in the form of a banner tattoo. Try to argue it’s not punk when you see flash art of a pig on a pink spatula. You can’t. You’ll have the punkest omelettes in town.

That’s not all, folks. Bands like Descendents and Against Me! have released custom, limited edition watches, a pretty unique way to count down the hours until your next punk show. Guy Fieri scoffs at timepieces. Why would he have a problem with black, plastic watches? To answer that and stay fashionable, Guy developed an entire jewelry line for optimal punk style, complete with the ever popular markings of nautical stars on nearly half of his collection. Guy doesn’t need an independent artist to make his jewelry look good, either; he does enough of that in the kitchen. He likes to keep jewelry designs simple and timeless, like using the emo scene derived cluster of stars, because the early 2000s will last forever, just like Guy’s sterling silver bracelets, cufflinks, and dog tags. Finally, something that pairs well with that studded belt you’ve been holding on to.

At this point, you are probably hanging your head in shame. Those thousands of hours spent listening to albums, the loss of hearing from days on end spent at shows and festivals, the clothing stitched from your own two hands, the 3 a.m. stick and poke tattoos you got in somebody’s bedroom, the lopsided self-piercings, the countless cans of cheap beer consumed; sure, you may be punk, but you will never be as punk as Guy Fieri, and that’s okay, because you can’t be more punk than the man who embodies the culture in absolution. Can he keep this level of punx up? Only posers die, and Guy is authentic as they come, so there’s no doubt he will be sticking around. Unless, of course, the American public drastically decides to eat healthier, ban bowling shirts, and really put some effort into self-care. So, yeah, Guy’s not going anywhere.

Go easy, step lightly, stay Fieri.

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