James Bockas, Eagle Scout and cornerback for the Weber High Warriors by day, leads a different, less apple-pie life by night.
Ruddy-cheeked with crystal-blue eyes, the 17-year-old comes from a strong Mormon family, mows lawns for gas money and is a member of Straight Edge, a movement that, on its face, is a parent's dream: Its adherents abstain from alcohol, drugs and smoking.
But Straight Edge also has been linked to domestic terror groups by the FBI and is labeled a gang by police in Utah. With its recent revival, the movement is worrying a whole new generation of Utah parents.
To find out why, walk for a moment in Bockas' sneakers.
Some of his Straight Edge friends tote Mace and miniature swords, while others have burned homemade tattoos onto their chests and arms with hot brass knuckles.
Bockas concedes that Straight Edge punk concerts in Ogden and Salt Lake City often involve brawls, including one in February where Bockas broke his nose. The clean-cut blond remembers wandering dazed into a bathroom and cracking the bone back into place through a stream of blood and pain.
Bockas wears all of it with a mix of casual bravado and adolescent pride.
"It's an integrity thing. You want to stand up for yourself," Bockas said of the brawls.
Hard-core punk at center
To its defenders, Straight Edge is a mostly positive movement centered on the hard-core punk music scene, an outlet for creative, sometimes shy kids who are resisting the glorification of drugs and alcohol.
But the Utah version of Straight Edge is controversial even in an underground subculture that, beginning in the 1980s in Washington, D.C., has grown into an international phenomenon.
In the late 1990s, according to police, members of Straight Edge in the Salt Lake Valley firebombed a McDonald's, a mink- feed cooperative and a leather- supply store, and committed at least one murder, the beating death of a 15-year-old Latino high schooler with a baseball bat.
"Salt Lake is not representative of Straight Edge as a whole, period," said Ross Haenfler, a professor at the University of Mississippi and author of a book on Straight Edge.
"Most of the kids in Salt Lake, I presume, are completely benign. But there is this certain element - I wish I could pinpoint exactly why it emerged there - but it was very pro-animal rights and very aggressive," he said.
After a crackdown in the run- up to the 2002 Winter Olympics, police say that Straight Edge is again in vogue in cities across Utah. They cite a rising number of brawls in high schools and melees on the streets, sometimes directed at suspected drug dealers or others who don't share Straight Edge's values.
Among the recent incidents linked by police to the movement are a shooting between a Straight Edge gang and a rival early this year; a recent beating of two teenagers that may be prosecuted as a hate crime; and a car chase in November involving at least 20 Straight Edge members who used baseball bats and a crowbar to destroy a rival's car.
Some punk bands from other cities refuse to play Salt Lake venues for fear they'll be attacked. At a punk concert in January 2005 and another at Halloween, bands were beaten by Straight Edge attendees.
"If you talk to their victims, they describe it as being attacked by a bunch of piranhas. They see blood in the water, and everyone goes after it," said Detective Jeremy Nelson of the Ogden Police Department's gang task force.
"It's a violent culture. For them to say that it is not is just denial," he said.
Nelson should know.
A nine-year veteran of the Ogden police, the 32-year-old detective was once in Straight Edge himself but got out so he could become a cop. Just under his uniform's short sleeves, he still has an elaborate tattoo that reads: "One life. Drug free."
Straight Edge attracts kids whose parents may have gotten in trouble with drugs or alcohol, Nelson said, as well as adolescents from upper-middle-class Mormon families who are tired of being harassed for not drinking.
But the world they enter, besides preaching abstinence and environmental consciousness, is also filled with glorified violence and a ritualized ferocity.
Dance like a street fight
The dance style at Salt Lake's Straight Edge concerts looks like a mock street fight. At a recent concert in a Salt Lake City parking lot headlined by the local band Cherem, dancers punched one another and performed roundhouse kicks. Some were tossed into benches and flower beds. One was briefly knocked out after being kicked in the head.
"It's kind of a rush. When I'm in the (mosh) pit, I don't remember very much. It's an altered state," said Jordan Lund, a 17-year-old Straight Edge member from North Ogden.
"Whether you're getting hit or hitting other people, it's fun," said Lund, whose nose has a visible curve from two breaks suffered at Straight Edge concerts.
It wasn't supposed to be this way.
In the 1980s, the affluent suburbs of Washington produced a band called Minor Threat, whose lead singer, Ian Mac Kaye, decried the widespread drinking and drug use of American youths. MacKaye wrote a song called "Straight Edge," the lyrics of which include:
I'm a person just like you
But I've got better things to do
Than sit around and (expletive) my head ...
I've got the straight edge
And a movement was born.
An "X" - the mark that clubs at the time put on the hands of underage concertgoers who couldn't drink - became the Straight Edge symbol. The movement is now popular in cities from Los Angeles to London, spread through the hard-core punk scene and increasingly via Internet chat rooms and underground blogs.
Experts say that apart from a handful of militant cities, Straight Edge is usually peaceful, and in a published interview, MacKaye decried the violence associated with the scene in Salt Lake. Both Denver and Boulder have small, generally nonviolent Straight Edge scenes.
Even in Utah, police calculate that 80 percent of an estimated several thousand Straight Edge youths in the state cause only minor trouble, fighting in clubs or schools, but little else.
Some of those fights, police say, erupt between rivals within the Straight Edge scene; others are with groups that openly party and drink (many Straight Edgers attack the "jock" culture they say dominates American high schools). In some cases, anti-Straight Edge gangs have formed in Salt Lake suburbs, including one called SLD, for Straight Edge Lay Down.
Detective Lex Bell of the Salt Lake County gang unit said it's a strange irony that the popularity of Straight Edge in Utah is probably related to a match between the values of the movement and the values of Mormonism, the state's dominant religion and one whose members are warned off drugs, alcohol and caffeine.
"These kids get into junior high or high school (and) they start being confronted or made fun of for having those beliefs. Then they hear about Straight Edge and can be accepted into a group that's considered cool and can still live with the beliefs" they were raised with, Bell said.
"But once they're into that Straight Edge lifestyle, they start building a level of dedication to the movement, and it progresses to where it starts becoming violent," he said.
Members on a gang list
After the movement was declared a gang in Utah in the 1990s, anyone identified by state authorities as Straight Edge is put on a gang list, allowing them to be searched at any time by police without probable cause.
Those in the movement say that police characterizations of the group's violence are exaggerated and that when it does occur, it's usually a reaction to a provocation or begun in self- defense.
"They are not hearing both sides of the story; they're hearing the losing side," said Brook Lund, a 25-year-old from Salt Lake and Jordan Lund's cousin, who has an "X" and the word "Dedication" tattooed on his neck.
Indeed, while many adults are mystified by Straight Edge members who often shave their heads, cover their bodies in tattoos and deform their ears with body plugs, those inside Straight Edge say they are just as dumbfounded by a society that drowns itself in alcohol and drugs.
Most see their decision to declare themselves Straight Edge as a turning point in their lives, and the tattoos and distinctive dress are considered a statement of a lifestyle that can sometimes take on religious proportions.
An often-repeated tenet is "I'll die for Straight Edge." Some credos are more extreme. One T-shirt at the recent Cherem concert read: "I believe in the use of violence to achieve animal liberation."
"These are people living a completely healthy lifestyle - drug free; without toxins. It's a great movement," said Scott Arave, a fixture of Utah's hard- core punk scene since the 1990s.
His arms and legs covered with elaborate tattoos, Arave, 31, sits in the living room of his parents' suburban split-level in West Point, Utah, a half-dozen framed family portraits neatly arranged on the coffee table.
Arave said a friend committed suicide under the pressure of FBI surveillance during the 1990s. He's had other friends who were involved in violent acts of protest in favor of animal rights, acts he now sees as unnecessary but doesn't entirely condemn.
"Kids here were tired of talking and took action. I wouldn't say they were doing something wrong. They stepped up to the plate," Arave said.
What shocks many in Utah is that Straight Edge here is a largely middle-class, suburban movement. Police say some of the most militant Straight Edge crews are based in places such as South Jordan, a Salt Lake City suburb of million-dollar homes and Mercedes in the driveways.
Some longtime Straight Edge members who have renounced violence say it's important to remember that the rage accompanying the movement's attitude toward drugs and alcohol often stems from tragic experiences in members' lives.
Jason Dunstan, 32, said that when he was a child, both he and his brother were physically abused as a result of alcohol and drug use in the family.
By the time he was an adolescent, Dunstan's anger had found an outlet in Straight Edge. He often brawled, mainly with skinheads, and never left home without a can of Mace or a pocket chain that could quickly be wrapped around his fist to make brass knuckles.
"I didn't fight fair. I could turn about any nondescript item into a weapon," he said.
That changed after he accidentally shot himself in the hand outside a concert. Now he spends time in Straight Edge chat rooms hoping to convince a new generation that violence goes against the spirit of the movement.
"I was sitting there in the hospital, and my mom was freaking out," Dunstan said of the night he was shot. "I kept thinking, 'How many people had I put in the hospital? How many families had I put in this position?'
"I learned what the violent side of Straight Edge was doing to families - the exact same thing as drugs and alcohol. We were no better."
Jeremy Nelson of the Ogden Police Department shows off the tattoo he got as a Straight Edge teen. "It's a violent culture," he says of the group that has attacked some punk bands.