browsing all posts in "reviews"
title: Dirty, Drunk, and Punk: The Twisted Story of the Bunchofuckinggoofs
author: Jennifer Morton
other shit: 223 pages. 2011, Insomniac Press
website: Dirty, Drunk and Punk
rating: 4/5 safety pins
I wish this book were bigger. I wish it were longer. Shinier. More expensive. And it cost me a pretty penny to begin with, seeing as how I had to order it from Canada and their dollar is up and shipping is expensive and I think Canada Post has Godot.
Aside: Today is my birthday. Tonight I’m going to see X. I imagine I will weep through their entire set, but I’m going to try really hard not to.
title: What We Do Is Secret
author: Thorn Kief Hillsbery
other shit: 346 pages. 2005, Villard.
rating: 2/5 safety pins
I was skeptical of this book for a lot of reasons, most of them relating to my distaste for reading about Darby Crash. The title is a Germs reference; the cover blurb starts by talking about Crash. But then my local library redid their online catalog, and —
title: My First Time: A Collection of First Punk Show Stories
editor: Chris Duncan
other shit: 181 pages, plus (short) author bios. 2007, AK Press.
rating: 3.5/5 safety pins
I will admit it, guys: There is not a lot I love more in the world than stories about How Punk Rock Saved My Life, and this book has many such stories. Most of them are pretty short, only a page or two, and they’re mostly by people who Do Stuff in punk. They’re in bands (Blag Dalia, John Poddy, Blake Schwarzenbach) or they write books (Michael Azerrad, Chris Walter, George Hurchella), something like that, but some of my favorite ones are by regular joes.
Reviews of books about heroin! But the thing is that when you are a junkie, you care about one thing: junk. You wake up. You get well. You spend the day trying to get enough money to get enough dope with enough time left for you to do it before you get dopesick. That’s it. That’s what you do. Every day. It’s repetitive and boring (albeit brutal and difficult and demoralizing and a lot of other things), and no matter how many quirky characters come and go from your life, no matter how many trips you make to the methadone clinic or how many band tours you go on, how many times you kick or try to go cold turkey in Jamaica, how many stints you do in rehab or jail, that’s the life of a junkie. And that’s why these books do not tend to be very good: It is very, very difficult to write a book about a boring and repetitive life without the book being boring and repetitive. All heroin books need 75 percent of their contents to go away, and the world would be a better place. Even you, William S. Burroughs. 75 percent fewer words.
…and yet I keep reading them.
More short reviews of novels: A Cool Breeze on the Underground (mystery), Ten Thousand Saints (…literary?), Punkzilla (epistolary)
Book reviews, punk rock fiction edition. Three novels: two YA and one mystery.
title: Pretty in Punk: Girls’ Gender Resistance in a Boys’ Subculture
author: Lauraine Leblanc
other shit: 1999, Rutgers University Press. 231 pages + appendices (including a hilarious punk glossary!), notes, index.
rating: 3/5 safety pins
According to my records, I have apparently been working on this post since the beginning of April. I kept starting it, and then I’d realize that I’d written a few thousand words about combat boots. About the first pair I ever got, at 13, about the years of fighting I had to do to get them, because “you can have combat boots when you go into combat.” I think that’s a thing people say as a brush-off, but I come from a military family; my father meant it. Which is to say that wearing combat boots was never about wearing combat boots.
At any rate, I sometimes wish I’d hung onto that first pair. I can still picture them by the door in the last apartment they were ever in, patched with duct tape. I can feel them on my feet, lopsided but comfortable, the outside of their soles worn noticeably lower than the inside. I remember when I finally replaced them, putting the old pair next to the new, realizing that the new pair was a full inch taller than the old. I believe this is my fourth pair.
tsol @ reggie’s, 2011-05-14
When I try to talk about the TSOL show I went to last week, I usually resort to repeating stories I’ve read in books. Early LA hardcore, I love it to distraction, but I wasn’t there. I don’t have first-hand knowledge; I have legends, anecdotes that have been passed down and which show up in old zines and new oral histories. I’ll say I went to see TSOL, and the person I’m talking to gets this look on their face, like they know that band but they don’t know why. To catch them up on the band, and on the show, I tell them this story:
In the early 80s, in LA/OC, TSOL was drawing bigger crowds than Black Flag. There was this one show, early in 83*, somewhere in Hollywood**. Like all other LA hardcore shows of the time, it was oversold, maybe 3000 kids there, maybe only 2000.*** Regardless, the cops showed up in riot gear, because that’s what cops did in 1983. TSOL’s frontman, Jack Grisham, said, “hey, everyone sit down, the cops won’t fuck with us if we’re all sitting down.”
…and they all sat down.
Hey, sometimes I read FICTION about punk rock! Short reviews of two and a half books: Salad Days, Tales of a Punk Rock Nothing, and the Taqwacores. I wanted to finish all three of them before I put up the reviews, but it’s not going to happen.
On the surface, they’re very different books, but actually they are all about young straight dudes who are confused by the things every young straight dude in the history of ever is confused about, and so they turn to punk rock to save them and then they have a coming-of-age experience that we get to read about. I just now — after writing all three reviews and hitting the “preview” button to read my post — realized this.
So I clearly need [fictional!] books about something else. Help?
title: American Hardcore: A Tribal History
author: Steven Blush
other shit: 2010, Feral House. 2nd edition. 354 pages + discography
soundtrack: 24 hours of hardcore, compiled by the author
rating: 1.5/5 safety pins
There are good things about this book. The discography in the back is nice. I always appreciate a juicy bit of gossip or a good story, and this book has a few of both.
And man, check out that cover! The colorized photo, enhanced so the blood is extra red. Plus the tagline, proclaiming that this book is “The definitive work on one of rock’s most important eras.” In the foreword, it says that the first edition of this book “set the record straight on American Hardcore Punk music.” These claims — that the book is definitive, that it sets the record straight — are repeated on the back cover.
I do enjoy a good definitive history. A nice, straight record.