Thank you, readers, for continuing to make this blog relevant. Almost 100,000 views prove the appetite for punk folklore is deep and profound, whether we examine art, sexuality, or music.
I have updated the theme of the page to make the material more reader-friendly on mobile devices. I use this same format for my World War II blog about POW material culture, and the overall experience seems improved.
I continue to write for the Houston Press, including this brand new preview of the micro-group Dos, the spare, experimental, but melodic duo of Kira Roessler (Black Flag) and Mike Watt (Minutemen), both of whom appeared in my book Left of the Dial. Since it is concise, here it is below, rather than a mere link.
“Time-tested by stints in underground heroes Black Flag and the Minutemen, as well as the dynamism of marriage and divorce, the “world’s smallest supergroup” — the Mike Watt and Kira Roessler duo known as Dos — wears resilience like a second skin. The music feels probing yet mellow and exploratory, still landing squarely within the rubric of punk. Tunes like “Taking Away the Fire” and “Diogenes” feel akin to artful meanderers Sonic Youth, while recent instrumental “Number Eight” is playful, ambient and melodic. Never kowtowing to trends and styles, Watt and Roessler have become masters of unique, seminal, one-off music. No wonder Nameless Sound and Girls Rock Camp Houston have joined forces to bring them to town for workshops and gigs to inspire the next generation. “Dos is the entire package,” says firebrand musician and GRCH cofounder Anna Garza (who proudly sports a Black Flag tattoo), “a dream come true.”
For my review of the Gainesville punk legends Against Me!, who performed to an ecstatic, roiling crowd a few months back in Houston, click here:
Next, my interview with their new drummer Atom Willard, the explosive arms behind bands like Alkaline Trio and Rocket from the Crypt too, can be read here.
Meanwhile, agitprop mid-1980s icons Vex, an obscure Texas punk band that melded the likes of Really Red (in fact, their drummer, Bob Weber, smacked the skins for this occasion) with the Fall, recently reunited for an intense record store gig that featured local luminaries in the audience, like members of the Hates and Mydolls. Read my overview of the band here.
Also, I was able to have an on-line conversation with skater-cum-artist Steve Olson, who revolutionized the sport in the late 1970s, became an uber-punk, and now is an intriguing conceptual maker of modern objects that blur borders between pop, Dada, street art, and fun fun fun. To read our interview, click here.
My work in Visual Vitriol examining the gender roles within the punk subculture was noted in the new essay “Every Song Ends” from Write in Tune: Contemporary Music in Fiction, Bloomsbury Publishing USA, 2014.
Via the Internet, I am sitting on the dissertation committee for Marco Ferrarese, a PhD candidate in Social Sciences researching Malaysian punk and metal identity construction and traditions at Monash University Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur.
My book, Mavericks of Sound, featuring a wide array of my archives from the last 20 years, including interviews with roots rock (Dave Alvin of the Blasters, John Doe of X, Merle Haggard …) and indie icons (Violent Femmes, Apples in Stereo, Swans…) is due out in September from Scarecrow Press. I just completed the first round of text edits, and the cover has been designed. Please look for it soon, and pre-order if you like, at sites like Amazon.
Grammy nominated singer-songwriter (three times!) and godfather of punk and well-chiseled pop Peter Case and I are completing the final text layout for our book of Beat Generation style poetic ruminations titled Subterranean Hum, which should go to print next month.
Recently, concerning my Midwest punk archive blog, I was interviewed by Adrienne Evens, a graduate student in the School of Library and Information Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison for “Action, Cooperation, and Independence: A Survey of Community Archives and History-Making Organizations in the Midwest” — her report debuting at the Midwest Archives Conference (MAC) in Kansas City, April 24-26.
Over a few months, I have provided historical material, background research, and even dialog editing to Deaf/Hard of Hearing performance artist and filmmaker Alison O’Daniel for her project The Tuba Thieves, which contains a film in homage to the infamous punk site Deaf Club of San Francisco — an oral history topic in my book Left of the Dial.
Cross your fingers, for I hope German fanzine Trust will publish portions of my own punk photography archive sometime soon, which includes UK Subs, Vibrators, Youth Brigade, Adolescents, MDC, and many more.
I will update portions of the this blog with new material during the next several months, including a new emphasis on punk sexualities and politics. I am still waiting to hear back from the journal Post and Post-Punk about my essay “Protest and Survive,” which examines the political aims and outreach, not mere rhetoric, of punk bands throughout history. You can read the abstract below.
Abstract: Punk rock has long been equated with ever-shifting and fluid concepts of dissent, disruption, and counter-cultural activities. As a result, since its first and second wave incarnations during the 1970s and 1980s, when bands in Britain from The Clash and Sex Pistols to Angelic Upstarts, U.K. Subs, and Crass offered alternative political convictions and subversive lifestyle choices, the media has often deemed punk a threat. Bands like Circle Jerks, Dead Kennedys, Bad Religion, and Millions of Dead Cops followed suit in America, pushing similar boundaries as the music mutated into “hardcore” — a harsher, stripped down, and more choleric variant of punk — that branched deep into suburban enclaves. Those antagonisms and ideals were, in turn, translated by another wave of bands, from Fugazi to Anti-Flag, whose commitment to community building were as pronounced as their taut, explosive tunes. My current on-line punk visual history efforts, including amassing and archiving over 350 politics-related gig flyers, focus on mapping, cataloging, and understanding the various activism and outreach inherent in punk. My text provides an overview of punk’s social, cultural, aesthetic, and political features; provides original interviews with members of MDC, Channel 3, Minutemen, TSOL, and more; highlights where punk money was gathered and spent as well as probes whether these actions promoted volunteerism, philanthropy, and community involvement; and paints a contextualized picture of how punk critiqued dominant culture not simply by offering rhetorical stances, symbolic strategies, and clever conceits but by channeling support and both impacting and making media that documents a wide array of humanitarian outreach, including gay and lesbian, environmental, and homeless advocacy as well as medical services and research.