An indispensable look at ground zero for L.A.'s underground punk movement in the late '70s.The Masque was a microcosm for the scene and, to an extent,An indispensable look at ground zero for L.A.'s underground punk movement in the late '70s.The Masque was a microcosm for the scene and, to an extent, all punk scenes: wild, raucous, short-lived and fun while it lasted. I had the honor of interviewing Brendan Mullen for 3AM Magazine a long time ago and he was impressively smart and unexpectedly candid. I learned a lot in the hour or so I spent talking with him. This is a great model for the kind of book I'd like to make about Vermin on the Mount someday. ...more
My daughter and I have a game that we like to play.
We’ll be listening to some music on the tape player in the car—lately it’s been the psycPunk is dad
My daughter and I have a game that we like to play.
We’ll be listening to some music on the tape player in the car—lately it’s been the psychedelic garage rock of Ty Segall, the brutal street punk of Belgium’s Cheap Drugs or the thrash metal band from Virginia, Iron Reagan—and over the din of the crunching guitars and wailing vocals I’ll ask her how she likes it.
Usually, she’ll say that it’s too loud, but I never actually hear what she says because I cut her off and yell, “What? Turn it up?” and jack the volume up even louder to levels pleasing to my perpetually 15-year-old brain.
This game never gets old, at least not for me.
Of course, it’s not really a game. More like a taunt and probably a counter-productive one at that. If the goal is to indoctrinate my daughter to punk rock, this is probably not the best way to go about it.
Right now one of her favorite bands is Imagine Dragons. I’d like to make fun of Imagine Dragons but I don’t know anything about them other than their music is everywhere: commercials, video games, the radio, etc. I do know that making fun of Imagine Dragons will only ensure that my daughter doubles down on her devotion to the band, so that’s not an option.
My daughter and I have a lot in common. She shares my passion for eating chicken wings, watching pro football and reading books. It’s too soon for coffee (she’s only 12) but it’s the perfect time to introduce her to punk. I’ve exposed her to a wide and deep variety from the classics to the contemporary, but it doesn’t seem to be taking and I’m not sure I understand why.
Perhaps What Is Punk? by Eric Morse and Anny Yi from Black Sheep/Akashic Books can help. What Is Punk? is a picture book for kids that tells the story of punk through rhyming couplets and three-dimensional images of clay figures. Think Wallace and Grommet with liberty spikes and anarchy patches.
Though it’s hardly comprehensive, Morse’s rhymes touch on the punk scenes in New York, London and Los Angeles, with a few detours along the way:
Out West in sunny LA, they live close to the beach.
Bands like X and Black Flag had a punk gospel to preach.
Catchy right? But it’s Anny Yi’s figures that steal the show. While the images of Johnny Rotten and Henry Rollins are cute, they’re presented as live action dioramas that are adorable, accurate and engaging.
I don’t know if What Is Punk? is propaganda for kids or nostalgia for parents, but I’m giving it to my daughter anyway.
But do I really want my daughter to love punk rock? After all, punk rock and substance abuse go hand-in-hand. You could say that about any kind of music scene but I don’t think my friends who listen to country (oh wait I don’t have any friends who listen to country) or other genres have been to as many funerals as I have. I really don’t want my daughter dropping f-bombs and calling me a fascist when I tell her to make her bed.
Punk rock has been one of the most positive influences in my life. Punk didn’t just give me an outlet for my anger and aggression; it helped me understand it. Punk taught me that rebelling against the status quo was not only acceptable, but essential. Punk helped undo 12 years of Catholic school mind control and dictatorial discipline. Punk taught me that being out of step with society didn’t make me a bad person, it just made me different, and in a school/town/nation full of sheep, different was the only way to be.
Punk rock also gave me skills. Interviewing bands and reviewing records for punk zines taught me how to write for an audience—something that was never discussed during my six years of college. And because I’m collaborating on a book with Black Flag cofounder and Circle Jerks frontman Keith Morris about his life in punk rock, punk has even contributed to my livelihood. Most importantly, punk has given me my best and oldest friends.
I haven’t given up with my daughter. I’ll keep beating the drum and if the message doesn’t get through I’ll just turn it up, but if you see me at an Imagine Dragons concert in the future, please know that I tried....more
An intimate look at the LA punk "scene" from 77-80. I put scene in italics because I'm beginning to get a sense of just how small this group of junkieAn intimate look at the LA punk "scene" from 77-80. I put scene in italics because I'm beginning to get a sense of just how small this group of junkies, hustlers and art school dropouts was, and the idea of a cohesive scene exists largely thanks to fanzines like Slash and Flipside (which I wrote for, but much, much later.) Allan MacDonell was part of the myth-making machine as a scribbler for Slash -- at least until he quit/got fired. These elegies consist of mostly unflattering, but frequently hilarious, vignettes of punks you don't hear about every day but were larger than life figures in the clubs and on the streets: Black Randy, Kickboy Face, a Mau Mau here, a Go Go there. Black Randy, in particular, steals more than one scene, and comes across as a junkie version of Seinfeld's Newman, full of vinegar and venom though entertaining nonetheless. MacDonell's acerbic style had me laughing through scenes I'm certain I would have recoiled in horror from had I lived through them. Stintingly unsentimental, Punk Elegies is a fresh take on a well-documented chapter of music history. Highly recommended. ...more
What a fascinating collection of stories. Tonal masterpieces that explore the tyranny of manners, the evil that lurks in the small-town minds, and theWhat a fascinating collection of stories. Tonal masterpieces that explore the tyranny of manners, the evil that lurks in the small-town minds, and the slow disillusion of dreams in squalid one-room apartments. The actors are quite excellent and deliver the stories in a flat way that accentuates repetition and masks the manic moods that often threaten to overwhelm the narrators of these stories. On the surface some of the stories feel a bit dated but beneath the surface they squirm. The story "The Lottery" still surprises after all of these years and "Flower Garden" shocked me in its frank treatment of racism and "The Tooth" is one of the stranger stories I've read all year, not unlike Paul Bowles's "A Distant Episode."
Very cool to see a book that so many of my friends here on Goodreads have read or want to read so maybe you can help me out here. Listening to the stories it became evident that there is at least one recurring character: a writer named Jim (ahem) who is a klutz, a cad, and a kook who turns out to be some kind of manifestation of the devil. I've read a bit about James Harris and the Demon Lover and child ballad 243 but nothing of this thread that links many of the stories together. Can anyone point me in the right direction as to where I should go to read more about this?
I've read a lot of junkie fiction and nonfiction but none that has as much hardboiled criminal activity as O'Neil's story from the streets of San FranI've read a lot of junkie fiction and nonfiction but none that has as much hardboiled criminal activity as O'Neil's story from the streets of San Francisco. For a period in the '90s the selfie king of the LA lit scene was, how shall we put it, not a nice man. Searing and pitiless, Gun, Needle, Spoon is a reminder that everything is negotiable in the mind of an addict. For a certain kind of reader who makes a daily effort to stay on the sunny side of the street, this book will make you grateful for every last thing you have. ...more
I had the pleasure of reading with the author in New York this summer. I sought out her work and it didn't disappoint. Madeleine sizzles with erotic iI had the pleasure of reading with the author in New York this summer. I sought out her work and it didn't disappoint. Madeleine sizzles with erotic intensity. ...more
Hollywood Notebook is an interesting follow-up to Excavation: a series of modified journal entries that were originally published as blog posts. WhereHollywood Notebook is an interesting follow-up to Excavation: a series of modified journal entries that were originally published as blog posts. Whereas Excavation feels like the revelation of old secrets, Hollywood Notebook revels (and sometimes recriminates) in the life of an artist finding her way in the world. Although Ortiz is an L.A. native, I suspect that those who came to California to pursue his or her passion (as I did) will find passages that strike a familiar chord. Again and again I was reminded of my first L.A. apartment in North Hollywood and participation in the local literary scene. (Eagles Coffee Pub anyone?) ...more
First time I ever got choked up while reading a menu. This is a smart, irreverent and abrasive powder keg of a book. As sharp and tender as Jennifer EFirst time I ever got choked up while reading a menu. This is a smart, irreverent and abrasive powder keg of a book. As sharp and tender as Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad. I loved it. ...more
I read this all in one go late at night in bed with my phone and I think it leaked into my dreams and I woke complicated and exhausted with fourteen eI read this all in one go late at night in bed with my phone and I think it leaked into my dreams and I woke complicated and exhausted with fourteen eyeballs, so I don't recommend this if the firewall in your dream machinery needs upgrading. Also, I finally learned what a picador is. Kind of messed up for a book publishing company to be named after a murder weapon. ...more