First and foremost, I hope to see some of you in the Midwest where I will be celebrating the pre-release of my book Out of the Basement (you can order a copy now via Microcosm!), which chronicles the rise of the indie/punk/alternative music scene of my hometown Rockford, IL! In Chicago, I will be gathering forces together and appearing with Dan Makagon, who teaches at Depaul University and helps edit the journal Liminalities (which published my essay, now book chapter from the Politics of Punk, titled “Slamdancing in the No Time Zone”). He published a cutting edge book that examines DIY spaces in-depth for Microcosm too. And, to add a dollop of pure energy to the mix, the legend of Pilsen, Martin Sorrondeguy, who published his infamous collection of photography Get Shot not long ago and sang for two of the most searing, pertinent bands on the planet, Limp Wrist and Los Crudos (who I saw at the Fireside Bowl in Chicago opening for the Unwound in the 1990s), will be projecting photos and discussing punk history, participation, and documentation! The event is called Punk Then, Punk Now, Punk Forever: Documenting DIY Culture, is FREE, and happens at 7 PM Nov. 18 at Quimby’s.
On the next dizzying night, Daniel and I will zoom across the flat toll roads that rim northern Illinois to Rockford itself and repeat our performance at Kate’s Pie Shop Cafe & Records, at 7 PM and free as well, where we will be joined by local younger maverick Keelan McMorrow, “who cut his adolescent teeth on the punk rock, art and zine cultures of his hometown’s local scene, forming bands (The Stellas, Egan’s Rats), booking shows, and drawing, pasting, printing, and copying an endless barrage of posters and flyers … He still does punk rock for free, writing columns for Chicago’s punk quarterly No Friends, and until late performing, touring, and recording for Population, an austere post-punk quintet.”
Please come by if you are in the stateline vortex!
Lo and behold, the last few months have been truly dizzying, upending, and titanic on both the personal and national/global levels. First, my book the Politics of Punk hit the market, and so far the response has been steady and positive, so I hope that trajectory stays intact! I was fortunate to be interviewed by Rebekah Buchanan, an Assistant Professor of English at Western Illinois University, for her podcast on the New Books Network. For almost an hour, we discussed a variety of keenly felt and relevant, timely topics, ranging from women in punk and the dynamics of zine culture to issues regarding pornography and sex workers in the digital era. I deeply appreciate her input, which was based on her own long involvement with both punk and the study of underground publishing, as well as her sheer enthusiasm and pointed intellect. To listen to a streaming version of it, please click here.
Me at the Politics of Punk release party at Cactus Music, by Heather Johnson
Secondly, the Houston Press ran an entire sub-chapter of the book on-line as well, as a preview to the book party we held at Cactus Music in Oct., when both my bands the Hates and No Love Less played. The crowd included an array of regional rockers that ignited my heart — members of Culturcide, Mydolls, Stinkerbell, Party Owls, Doomsday Massacre, and more crowded between the CD racks as the bands blared and beer frothed in cups. The article also contains a handful of my photos, including action pics of TSOL and DOA, plus embedded video links too, so you can get the full experience here.
Next, thank you to Dolf and the crew at Trust for publishing my photograph of the Florida-based punk band Scream Out Loud in their new Oct/Nov. issue. Looking ahead, Razorcake will be publishing my interview with the artful, keenly intelligent, and longtime icon of Canadian music Jean Smith of Mecca Normal, who is both a poet-singer of unbridled intellect but also a painter/visual artist of heralded repute (she made three covers for the band’s albums). Look for that in their print edition before the end of the month.
Speaking of women in punk, that is my new book project, and the manuscript is now 60% complete and covers a huge spectrum. The (un)simple goal is to shine a light on the deep, wide, and indelible contributions of women in the genre and movement. For the first time ever, I am releasing all the rough drafts via my Facebook page, so people can make comments, suggestions, notations, etc! For my first book Visual Vitriol, I offered a few sections on-line, which did attract some interesting commentary. Over the past few weeks, I have discussed Crass, 8 Bark, the Warmers, Fire Party, Melt Banana, and more, so join the effort! The next installments are 45 Grave, Submission Hold, and the Loudmouths! In many cases, I am reaching out to the artists themselves to contribute their own reflections, anecdotes, memories, texts, etc., so the book will be more akin to a conversation reverberating with outsider/insider traits — the POV of critics and writers vs. the close-to-the-ground, first person, “I was there” reality.
Another book release dear to me, that I edited and has just arrived, is I Said That, which is a compendium of Gary Floyd material I published as the fourth book for my imprint Left of the Dial. He just returned to Texas to play the “last two shows, ever” for the Dicks, who re-united for the brief weekend of intense musical chaos! I worked the merch table (full of incredible limited edition T-shirts, CDs, 45 singles, and screened posters), and snapped the photo below!
As I penned the next day on Facebook: “Two Nights Only! Night of the Living Dicks! Mayhem in the murk of Austin’s monstrous underbelly! Lewd and seditious taunts that chewed up at least five bourgeois pigs! Horrible laughter emanating from haunted souls haranguing the suburban bores! Cross-dresser cackles and hackles and hoarse roars of the freedom now motherf*ucker squad! Prurient and salacious vintage punk shop talk to get your backbone buzzing! Oh, boy, Gary Floyd, underground folk hero with fangs bared and Divine presence! For those who missed the bell — where were you when the revolution returned in full force?” Luckily for you, the book is still available! It contains the lyrics of the Dicks (both Austin and San Francisco), an intro, an afterword, 3 interviews (including a reprint of Gary’s interview in Suburban Voice), and a plethora of rare photos, flyers, and visual ephemera. To order, just send me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. The cost, with shipping included, is only 12.00!
Gary Floyd and me, Vinal Edge, by Greg Rabel
I also appeared for a book party with the stupendous, hilarious, quick-witted, unvarnished, unscripted, keep-it-candid Gary Floyd at Vinal Edge in Houston, where he displayed and sold his raw, wonky, earthy and ribald, folk (as in art of the people), spirit-child, outsider art. It was like a pop-up museum! Some people walked away with true treasures. My next project will be a similar collection of Sister Double Happiness and the first volume of the complete works of Randy “Biscuit” Turner” of the Big Boys, starting with his works on paper (and another trove of rare photos).
More to come, keep up the faith in punk! The world is ours to remake!