Really absorbing autiobo comix about two teenaged Vienna punk girls who sneak across the border into Italy in 1984 and travel around the country withoReally absorbing autiobo comix about two teenaged Vienna punk girls who sneak across the border into Italy in 1984 and travel around the country without passports or a lire to their name, eventually ending up in Mafia-controlled Palermo. There is some intense and potentially triggering stuff in this book, be warned. I really liked Ulli's sketchy, slightly cramped panels and the green undertones provide a striking contrast. The loyalty that Ulli shows to her unreliable friend Edi is exasperating and somewhat heartbreaking; I couldn't fully comprehend why she remained with her when Edi was obviously bad news. But I guess we don't always make the best decisions at age 17. Recommended for anyone who likes tales of punk drifters, especially fans of Cometbus, Christy Road's zines, and Kika & Hibinka's Off the Map. ...more
A brief history of K Records, a local (Olympia) independent label started by indie rocker/undergroung punk icon Calvin Johnson. I listened to a lot ofA brief history of K Records, a local (Olympia) independent label started by indie rocker/undergroung punk icon Calvin Johnson. I listened to a lot of K Records stuff as a teen riot grrrl and then later in college, so I was interested to learn more about the label's origins and the Olympia scene in the '80's & '90's. Baumgarten does a good job describing that scene and Johnson's role in the indie/punk underground on the 1980s/90s but I felt that he really didn't have enough critical distance from his subject to give a full picture of the scene and K's impact on it. In his introduction, Baumgarten describes Johnson as the "hero of this book" and it becomes evident pretty quickly that there is some serious hero worship of Calvin Johnson going on. Johnson certainly did a ton for the independent music scene locally and nationally but he's also a complicated individual about whom there is some serious disagreement (especially among some of the female artists in the scene), and this book doesn't give much space to those complaints or critiques.
The other strange thing about this book were the sidenotes in between chapters, entitled things like "A Brief History of Hardcore" or "A Brief History of Zines" in which Baumgarten breaks down a few major aspects of the punk/independent/alternative music scene, presumably for readers who don't know anything about the history of punk and its related subcultures in the United States. This feature seemed a little odd and superfluous to me, because I think most people who are going to pick up a book about K Records will do so because they already know about the label and are already familiar with these things. I don't imagine that this book is going to have a wide readership beyond K Records fans. ...more
Yet another teen book set in the punk scene that made me cringe with embarrassment and left me wondering who the author thinks she's writing for. NotYet another teen book set in the punk scene that made me cringe with embarrassment and left me wondering who the author thinks she's writing for. Not punk teens, certainly -- they'd laugh at how desperate this author seems to prove that she's got punk cred by dropping constant references to punk bands and culture. Yes, we get it: you know who Minor Threat and X are. Good for you. Too bad you didn't do more research before you had your main "punk girl" character namedrop a list of "women who rock" -- somehow you forgot to mention Corin Tucker, Carrie Brownstein, Kathleen Hanna, Donna Dresch, Kaia, Kat Bjelland, oh, and about a million other women who rock harder than fucking Sheryl Crow and Ani DiFranco. Is it just coincidence that Melissa Auf der Maur shows up on this list AND she's written a jacket blurb for this book? I think not. Shame on you Cecil Castellucci. I expected better from you after reading the Janes series, I really did. ...more
Gritty fiction about seven teenage runaways living on the streets of L.A. They come from all over the place, and for different reasons, but all of theGritty fiction about seven teenage runaways living on the streets of L.A. They come from all over the place, and for different reasons, but all of them are connected through Tracy, a hard-bitten, skinny junkie street kid, who appears and disapppears from their lives without warning. Each chapter is written in the voice of one of the teens, with the action overlapping slightly so the reader gets different perspectives on the same events. The characterizations are very strong, so much so that you can empathize even with characters who do some shitty things. Strong language, graphic sex and violence = not a cozy read. In fact, I'm inclined to say that this is the grittiest teen book I've ever read. Nothing about it is gratuitous, however -- this is an honest and unflinching portrait of life on the streets that I think both mature teens and adults will find riveting. ...more
2 and 1/2 stars. A great idea -- Muslim & punk subcultures collide in a crusty punkhouse in upstate New York -- but since it lacked an interesting2 and 1/2 stars. A great idea -- Muslim & punk subcultures collide in a crusty punkhouse in upstate New York -- but since it lacked an interesting plotline and any recognizable character development, it ended up being kind of a slog for me. The band names (i.e, "Burning Books for Cat Stevens," "The Infibulateds," "Skallahu Akbar") were genius, as was the idea of a burka-wearing Riot Grrrl, but the cool ideas alone could not make up for everything else this book was lacking as a novel. I'm glad it exists, though. ...more
Why is it that I kind of love rampant name-checking & rock insider references in some books (e.g., Scott Pilgrim) and despise it in others (e.g.,Why is it that I kind of love rampant name-checking & rock insider references in some books (e.g., Scott Pilgrim) and despise it in others (e.g., this book)? There were so many times when I was reading this book and groaned out loud at the hyper-self-aware, punker-than-thou teen protagonists. Boring. Plus David Levithan should really never try to write about playing live rock music ever again -- his breathless poetics made me cringe. This book is not going to age very well. I would not have even finished it except for the fact that I have created this ridiculous project for myself which involves reading 1/3 of my teen fiction collection by the end of the year (current status = 9% of collection read). And this was a quick read if nothing else. ...more
Re-read recently because I am reviewing this zine for LJ. Doris is a wonderful perzine that's been around since the mid-nineties, written, illustratedRe-read recently because I am reviewing this zine for LJ. Doris is a wonderful perzine that's been around since the mid-nineties, written, illustrated and published by Cindy, a wandering punk anarchist woman who writes about her travels, her sister, strangers, secrets, making community, sex, history, depression, politics and so much more. She has a real gift for describing ordinary moments in daily life: snatches of conversation, glimpses out the windows of vans, late-night fears and frustrations, the harsh beauty of city landscapes, planting a garden, dancing at a show, so many things we often take for granted. She really sees them, and she tells you stories about them like an old friend would -- simple and direct and full of heart. And when she talks to you about politics and theory, mutual aid and women's self-care, you soak up the words and feel it resonate through all the little details she's shared with you elsewhere. The political & personal are thoroughly entwined in this zine, as they are in life. Most of Doris #1 through #18 is in this volume (except #9 which was not reprinted for reasons she mentions in the book); the zine is up to issue #26 now and you can get back issues 21 through 26 at her website (www.dorisdorisdoris.com) and also through microcosm publishing (www.microcosmpublishing.com), who published this anthology....more