New Punk Interview Collection Out Now!

Modern Machines: Punk Interviews From The Void is my new book, designed by Welly of Artcore zine, featuring conversations with noted countercultural underground music icons! This volume contains some material previously published in the rare and obscure zine Left of the Dial (which I ran and edited), like John Brannon from Negative Approach; interviews that were previously only available on-line, such as ones with members of The Crowd, Descendents, Beatnigs, Membranes, Units, JFA, and Guitar Wolf, as well as with rocker and writer Bob Suren (Crate Digger: An Obsession with Punk Records) and Victor Gastelum (SST Records designer and incredible punk flyer artist); and a handful of brand new interviews from 2020, such as Al Quint of Suburban Voice, Chip Kinman of the Dils/Rank and File, and Dave Dictor of MDC, that have never been shared with the public until now. Plus, it reprints my interview with Eugene Robinson of Oxbow as well. Plus, the text features rare photographs of JFA and the Adolescents by camera legend Ed Colver as well as numerous vivid, historical, and evocative photographs, posters, and flyers. For those seeking in-depth, detail-oriented, and wide-ranging interviews that show the scope, intelligence, and singular power of the hardcore and punk era, this is an indispensable addition to your collection. You can buy it NOW via Amazon or go the DIY route and get it directly from David Dictor  at the MDC distro website!

Applying Folklore Terms to Punk

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Me, July 2020, with my favorite David Bowie shirt: this is also the new press photograph for Microcosm Press, who are set to release my revised book on punk women soon

For those who might like to understand how I approach punk both as a long-time participant and folklorist, I am releasing some class notes I sketched in 2008/2009. Now, please understand, some information might have changed since the time of the original version, found below, mostly as-is.

These sketches constitute the “warm-up,” a rough draft beginning, for my book Visual Vitriol, which is still available here from the Univ. Press of Mississippi, if you seek further exploration and want to dive deeper.

Intangible Cultural Heritage: Though this term may be problematic in terms of describing punk culture, UNESCO does define it as: non-physical characteristics, practices, representations, expressions as well as knowledge and skills that identify and define a group or civilization. In addition, UNESCO outlines specific categories, including:

* oral traditions and expressions, including language as a vehicle of the intangible cultural heritage;

* music, dance, drama and other performing arts

* social practices, rituals and festive events;

* knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe;

* foods and clothing

* and traditional craftsmanship

One can look to writers like Dick Hebdige’s well-noted, but now somewhat controversial Subculture: The Meaning of Style for a Culture Studies-meets-semiotics analysis of fashion, in which punk signifiers range from jagged haircuts to briccolage-style 1976-era punk garments. Such clothing may be an indication of intangible punk heritage. Food becomes hard to delineate, though since the mid-1980s (see Crass and MDC), vegan punk diets have become increasingly significant to punk sub-group identities Almost any punk concert can be understood as a ritual, though earlier incarnations of dances, ranging from pogoing and slam dancing (also known as the “creepy crawl”) to skanking and moshing, have been considered co-opted by the mainstream, first starting with heavy metal/speed metal/thrash metal bands of the mid-1980s. Hence, one might consider these either as evolved or assimilated.

Traditional craftsmanship might be identified with punk’s DIY approach to fashion, including stenciled phrases (“Heavy Manners”) borrowed from Rasta culture onto clothes purchased from thrift stores (see The Clash photos, circa 1976) or they also seem symbolized by the late 1980s and 2000’s boom in band patches being applied to denim jackets in what appears sometimes as a pell-mell approach. This may even be considered an assimilation of heavy metal culture. Other such DIY clothing phenomena might include teenagers using magic marker to scrawl band names and phrases on things such as Converse or Vans sneakers, or using these markers to create homemade band T-shirts, replete with a sometimes raw and naïve approach, or in turn, a sometimes very adroit illustration style, to identify band allegiance, even gang/tribal affiliation (see Suicidal Tendencies self-titled LP cover).

Also, during the early period of hardcore, bandanas were tied around combat or motorcycle boots, sometimes accompanied by spurs (see Bad Religion “Best Of…80-85” cover), or later used to wrap right above Converse sneakers, pin pants close to the leg (as I frequently did before “skinny jeans”), or around the head(Operation Ivy), almost in reference to traditional housekeepers . Social practices could include the ritual preparation of hair dyes and hair cuts (see: Another State of Mind), touring itself (often in cramped vans), tattooing and piercing (sometimes utilizing a “jailhouse” style done with Indian ink and needles purchased from stores like Wal-Mart), and the creation of gig flyers, fanzines, and skateboard ramps, which often included several people working together in a high context mode.

Carnivalesque: As described in class, and well-noted on Wikipedia, this term, coined by Bakhtin, has origins both in actual historical events and literarily style and tendencies, specifically in the work of Rabelais. As such, a ASU web site PDF notes: “The comic violence, bad language, exaggeration, satire, and shape-shifting which fill this book [Gargantua and Pantagruel] are, for Bahktin, the greatest example of carnivalesque literature. Ever concerned with the liberation of the human spirit, Bakhtin claimed that carnivalesque literature — like the carnivals themselves — broke apart oppressive and mouldy forms of thought and cleared the path for the imagination and the never-ending project of emancipation.” This relates directly to the work of punk rock authors, such as Kathy Acker, who use such images of violence, and extensive textual thievery and appropriation, to invert cultural norms and parody both literary genres and social and cultural roles. In the world of punk performance, the concept has been used to sell product, such as this glib sentence used in the marketing of an Alternative Tentacles band known as the Phantom Limbs: “Carnivalesque punk that reimagines the Screamers as an insane fun-house soundtrack.” In addition, writers such as John Goshert have protested the use of such terms and tried to debunk the concept in articles such as  “‘Punk’ After the Sex Pistols: American Music, Economics, and Politics in the 1980s and 1990s” by positing:

A simple valorization of oppositionality is a relatively ineffective standard of political or social critique. Thus, the use of carnivalesque symptoms, for instance, in contemporary commercialized and sanitized punk images of the Sex Pistols and other “alternative” groups, either to confirm or deny punk’s political potential, is already a misplaced focus. Those images can only be used, whether as subversive or reactionary, as recuperative of a commercial system that punk would disrupt at its very foundations.

However, that interpretation seems rather vague and does not offer a concrete description that highlights how punk did, for many observers and participants, create a performative space that actively, perhaps through spectacle alone, create a liminal space of inversion, parody, and metamorphosis, ranging from the Dada tactics of early punk bands like the Screamers and the Bags, to the cult of teenage angst, violence, and blurred sexual identity of the Germs, to the Sex Pistols’ overall assault on good taste, in concert and on TV shows such as Bill Grundy’s UK talk show in Dec. 1976, in which the young rockers unleashed a whole series of profanity-laced invectives during a primetime segment.

The carnival nature of punk may also be seen in the alter-egos created for the sake of punk, in which re-naming oneself allows for such as inventive and ironic names such as John Doe, which suggestively undermines the “everyman concept” with a notion of an anonymous body bag victim, or Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious, which heighten a sense of teenage terror and destruction. Each name carries some kind of commentary that underpins the “cultural disguise.” As Jon Savage outlines in England’s Dreaming, in the initial try-out for the Sex Pistols, Johnny Lydon marked his passage into punk — his Rotten persona — by launching “into a sequence of hunchback poses – screaming, mewling, and puking…” This, at the very core, was carnivalesque, safely ensconced within a pub on King’s Road. Other name mutations, or carnivalesque alter-egos, included no less than Elvis Costello, Johnny Thunders, Steve Ignorant, Lora Logic, Penny Rimbaud, Sting, Bono, The Ramones, and many more.

Liminal Space: In the folklore of punk rock, the issue of liminal time and space, often considered a rites of passage, does correspond to the traditional concept, noted in Wikipedia, that: “The liminal state is characterized by ambiguity, openness, and indeterminacy. One’s sense of identity dissolves to some extent, bringing about disorientation. Liminality is a period of transition where normal limits to thought, self-understanding, and behavior are relaxed – a situation which can lead to new perspectives.”

As noted in the previous entry, the first time Johnny Lydon met with the young men who would gel as the Sex Pistols, he underwent a liminal transitional, in which the quiet, reserved, arty school boy dissolved into the new persona, one that was highlighted by a severe haircut, safety pin strewn jacket, and a garbled mouth that howled spontaneous lyrics that might have revealed his appreciation of Captain Beefheart. This off-the-cuff moment was a rites of passage that would eventually yield a career in which he become utterly notorious for his vitriolic wit and stage manner, though within a few years later he would reject the name Rotten to be re-incarnated as Johnny Lydon again, to spurn the idea of punk rock.

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In general terms, the space of punk rock, typically the domains of dirty late-night clubs, all ages rented halls, and past-their-prime pubs, can be construed as liminal spaces, somewhere between mainstream clubbing and the underworld of tattoos, body modification, androgyny or gender bending, taboo sex, and petty criminality. Within such spaces, people often explore, in a candid and often self-conscious way, an unbound zone that lets them inhabit newly imagined roles. So, if during the day they are office workers, at night they can inhabit the world of a Goth-tinged dominatrix, or a gay boot boy, or a Dada-poet punk who unashamedly explores tendencies during a performance on stage towards a “deliberate disorientation of the senses” promulgated by the 19th century Romantic French poet Arthur Rimbaud.

Rites of Passage: This can be understood as a extension of the aforementioned phenomena, although folklore traditionalists may argue that such punk persona evocations and rituals do not embody the three main foci of the concept, including separation from society (removal), transition, and reincorporation by society. However, building on the discussion already outlined in the previous pages, I will argue that punk does often resemble these three stages. Again, to focus on Johnny Rotten, I will try and examine how his punk rock incarnation fulfilled several elements of such a journey, based on rites of passage precepts outlined by teachers such as anthropologist Rodney Frey, who base their approaches on Victor Turner and Arnold Van Gennep:

  1. It presupposes an orphaned status: Johnny Lydon is thrown out of his family home in 1975 due to his severe hair cut, which was buzzed and green.
  2. It involves a separation, a journey and a sacrifice. Johnny Lydon ventures to pubs along King’s Road, meeting like-minded people dissatisfied with mid-1970s British culture, forging a kind of tense and suspicious communitas with Steve Jones and Paul Cook, etc. As the Sex Pistols begin their appearances, especially after their “God Save the Queen” single and traveling by boat to play a show on the Thames during the Queen’s Jubilee celebration, life became dangerous for Rotten, who was stabbed by thugs.
  3. A rite of passage involves the acquisition of power and knowledge, the void is filled. The cumination of this knowledge might have happened during the last show of the Sex Pistols, in front of 3,00 fans at Winterland in San Francisco, when Rotten asked the crowd, “Ever get the feeling that you have been cheated?” Though he momentarily lacks power, he is flush with knowledge.
  4. Any rite involves affirmation and rebirth. Johnny Rotten becomes Johnny Lydon again, forming a new band, PIL, that releases a few records until the single Death Disco in 1979 leads to an appearance on Top of the Pops, which lets Lydon reclaim his status as major musical performer, agitator, and caricature in post-punk British circles.

This is just one single case example that may illuminate how punk mirrors certain elements of rites of passage theory.

Participant Observor: Is a difficult term that presupposes that one learns by doing, meaning one becomes part of the process by which he or she can understand a culture by imitating the people’s actions or the actions of their “informants.” However, several key questions have been raised in the community, including author Charlie Keil from SUNY Buffalo in her article “Participation Si! Alienation No!,” which highlights the dilemma and awkwardness of “going native,” almost a kind of mimicry, in which participants try to undergo a “subject shift” and experience a “fused horizon” with the observed, or in more embarrassing terms, they practice “sandbox folklore” in which such participants seem foolish or even grotesque.

However, in my case, I have been drumming since I was pre-pubescent, and my first drum part that I memorized included “1969” by the Stooges, and my 7th grade notebooks are full of punk rock drawings, lingo, and band names. I feel that I am an insider, not someone trying to negotiate space between cultures. In addition, I have made both fanzines, since the time I was 16, and have made punk flyers, including my first one for an Adolescents show at Rotation Station (Loves Park, IL), done crudely on a Xerox machine. Thus, the problem may actually be my lack of distance, objectivity, and having cultural capital that occludes or resists certain forms of inquiry.

For instance, I am loathe to see punk as merely a vessel of entertainment, since I feel that it had a profound, generative, and educational discourse during impressionable moments of my youth, such as when I read the liner notes by bands like MDC and Dead Kennedys’ which likely contributed to my overall political awareness and penchant for direct action, such as staging a Tiananmen Square protest in high school, creating an AIDS documentary in community college, or being part of radical student activities at a few universities. Therefore, I disagree that the politics of punk are essentially a theater of spectacle or the mere fodder of pop culture. However, such analysis is limited, due to my lack of involvement in other cultural communities, such as hip hop, etc, which have equally valid folklore status.

High Context Groups: According to Edward T. Hall, as noted in the book The Dynamics of Folklore, such groups “share so much information and attitude” that they “see themselves as parts of a single community that ‘knows.’” This relates to the punk and hardcore communities’ sense of living history, in which the trends, meanings, and identities shaping musical subgenres, clothing type, or manners of speech and lingo can be decoded and shared without much actual reliance on language or discussion itself. For instance, most self-identified punk rockers simply “know” the signature style of Goth punk (Alien Sex Fiend, the Damned), horror punk (TSOL, the Misfits), Oi (Sham 69, Angelic Upstarts), peace punk (Crass, Flux of Pink Indians), straight-edge (Youth of Today, Minor Threat), and so on. Thus, even if this community stretches beyond national borders and traditional groupings by ethnicity, political affiliation, or social class, these cultural markers remain the same, validated and policed by the punks on hand. Outsiders to this culture will likely not be able to differentiate or decode the myriad markers of this culture, which have grown over the last twenty year to whole new hybrid forms of punk, including hatecore, thrash, D-beat, crust punk, gutter punk, power and violence, and so on. In the community, however, magazines such as Loud Fast Rules and web sites like punknews.org readily mold these sensibilities, along with the underground stylemakers who devise new descriptions to authenticate and legitimate forms of punk that both pay witness to heritage and glean new channels of musical expression within the vernacular of “Punk.”

Authenticity: As discussed in class, people arguing for authenticity try to establish and monitor links between current forms of expression in material forms, performed acts or rituals, and intangible culture that can be verified or documented as having been part of tradition or historical precedent within a community. In terms of punk, critics often use the word to qualify a band’s ability to fit the “punk” description, which has never been understood as fixed and static.

For instance, in the early heyday of punk, many of the musicians previously played for blues and country, pub rock, jazz fusion, and rock’n’roll bands, including such notables as Elvis Costello, the Police, Bad Brains, the Stranglers, the Vibrators, Blondie, and members of the Clash. Only a few bands, mostly with art school backgrounds, did not have deep connection with earlier musical communities, including Wire, Adam Ant, Buzzcocks, and the Adverts. Other bands simply continued working class traditions of pared-down rock’n’roll forms rekindled with “filth and fury,” such as the Sex Pistols, Slaughter and the Dogs, and the Ramones, etc. Therefore, as Stewart Holmes attests in Cranked up Really High, few “authentic” punk bands existed, mostly just punk records by record companies trying to exploit new trends, and those records can be considered novelties.

In fact, after the coined phrase “punk” became a problematic term that could harm record sales or public impressions, an alliance of ad executives, band managers, and even bands themselves opted for “safer” terms such as New Music and New Wave, which was peddled to mainstream audiences. As punk morphed into hardcore by the early 1980s, the style associated with “punk” was deemed too soft, arty, insipid, anachronistic, or indulgent, and the leaner, more choleric, and marshaled maelstrom of speed and fury that was known as hardcore become the emerging bearer of the teenage underground subculture, epitomized by bands like Minor Threat, Bad Religion, Agnostic Front, the Adolescents, and many more.

Some bands from the “punk” era, such as DOA, the Misfits, and the Big Boys, tried to authenticate and legitimize their roles in the new era by creating a similar striking sound, just as many pub rockers had donned the mantle of punk almost ten years earlier. In terms of punk flier art, authentic means that a flyer on the market should not only bear the signs of being a first generation copy, but that wear and tear actually reveal a history of use on telephone poles or as letters mailed out to fans too. Hence, fans have fetishized fliers that have notable markings, such as pinholes, tears in the corners, slight yellowing or discolorations, fold marks from mailing, and handwritten letters on the back. In the absence of these signifiers, other markings might also be useful, such as stamps on the front or back, indicating use in college campuses or by label press departments, or corrections done by hand to add or correct such information as dates and venues.

Normalform: When discussing how a flier should appear, I believe that certain norms have been established simply due to a sense of utility: flyers are an extension of the process of promotion and dissemination, which mediate the expressions of the art. A flyer is a microcosm of information, both apparent and latent. For instance, most flyers list dates, venues, bands, and sometimes address and phone numbers. Also, information about a venue, or directions to the show, may be included. Some also may include the signature of the artists, especially if the art is a handmade illustration. Some flyers may also include auxiliary text that relate to the art, to the bands, or to the time and sense of culture from which the flyer appears. For instance, on a TSOL flyer from Phoenix, AR, the artist chose to incorporate text lifted from a Dead Kennedy’s flier, “Welcome to 1984,” which originally appeared in a poster by Winston Smith. Below this appropriated text is the following suggestion: “Investment Problems? Start a War!” Such sentiments can be considered part of punk flyer art normalform, revealing the political and economic anxiety of the Reagan era, from the point of view of punk culture. Also, such axioms, often in the form of inversions, highlight punk’s sharp sense of irony, parody, and protest.

Dissemination: The migration and dissemination of punk art, especially flyers, can be understood as revealing the essence of DIY culture. Throughout the last thirty years, punk flyers have often been posted illegally, since most communities treat flyer art as trash, vandalism, and even a form of graffiti. Hence, the spread of these flyers can be understood as events, often done late at night, by street teams or artists who wish to spread information about shows but also infiltrate hegemonic culture by producing instant art with political or social content that combines a sense of agitprop and agitation.

In the case of bands like Black Flag, who routinely “co-opted” the designs of Raymond Pettion and made thousands of copies that were furnished to high school kids, the flyering process was furtive, marked both by purpose and “kicks,” resulting in hordes of Xeroxed or offset press flyers plastered on city walls, train bridges, and utility poles, some weathered but still visible for years. Even the Clash have their own lore, such as when the band described being so poor that after a night of flyering London with gig handbills glued to surfaces with a mixture of flour and water they ate from the same bucket to quell their hunger. Flyers were also used as mailers, letter stock, or easily reproduced and packaged promotional tools.

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Art by Raymond Pettibon

For instance, Mike Myers from Suicidal Tendencies used flyers as letterhead to fans, and the label BYO would include a handful of flyers when shipping items to buyers across the world, with a handwritten ‘thank you’ note. Also, by the mid-1980s, Dirk Dirksen, infamous show promoter for clubs like Mabuhay Gardens in San Francisco, who also managed the Dead Kennedys, established a flyer art mail-order service that featured both original copies and reprints on heavy stock paper. In fact, I ordered vintage prints of Dead Kennedys and the Damned flyers from that service. Also, magazines like Maximum Rock n Roll and Flipside would regularly feature flyer art in the design layout for articles, as would some record labels when designing record covers. For instance, the Live at the Deaf Club LP featured flyer designs in the liner notes. Lastly, in the age of the Internet, digital flyers, which may only exist as virtual designs and never printed, are often emailed to fans via email sites or more fervently on social networking sites such as Myspace and Facebook. However, poster street teams still operate in cities such as Portland, where one poster distributor earns five cents for every poster he is able to affix to wooden or metal utility poles or to windows in local businesses.

Emic: I am likely to apply an “emic” account in my Visual Vitriol essay, which is noted by Wikipedia as a “description of behavior or a belief in terms meaningful (consciously or unconsciously) to the actor; that is, an emic account is culture-specific.” I would rather downplay interpretation per se, and when possible, like a community cultural worker/animator, help facilitate the self-determination of the community in regards to defining its own meaning and core values. To manage this approach, I have compiled hours of video interviews, almost one thousand pages of typed transcripts, and several more hours of taped interviews. Instead of merely summarizing past interpretations, many of which are considered unsatisfactory by my own subjects, I hope to assemble their viewpoints in a democratic, participatory, and rather transparent way, meaning open to their oversight, that will allow the participants to generate their “meaning” from below as I act as a partner in the overall process. This borrows from a Feminist Theory perspective and from the “co-intentional” methodology of Paulo Freire, which he examines in texts like Pedagogy of the Oppressed and Education for a Critical Consciousness.

 

 

Celebrating the 95th Birthday of Black Poet Bob Kaufman

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Photo detail from The Ancient Rain: Poems 1956-1978, New Directions, original pic by Ira Nowinski

Lost and Found

A biography I penned twenty years ago for Beat poetry pioneer Bob Kaufman for an academic reference book. I do not recall if it was ever used or published. Note: new evidence and insight might have emerged since the time of the original draft. Copy re-edit, July 2020.

 BOB KAUFMAN. 1925-1986.

A thick veneer of mythology coats the history of Bob Kaufman, known more powerfully as the “Black Rimbaud” by his followers abroad, mostly due to Kaufman’s own incessant re-imagining of heritage vis-a-vis poetic license. Until very recently, this was also furthered by critics’ wholesale adoption of his loose, creative autobiographical notes. He was “discovered” by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, owner of City Lights Books and longtime figure in both the San Francisco Poetry Renaissance and Beat Generation, during the late fifties when Kaufman held court at the legendary Co-Existence Bagel Shop. At the time, the poet supposedly carried his young son around in a clarinet case. Such notorious antics, combined with Kaufman’s ongoing mix of street wise protest and mesmerizing jazzspeak, prompted the newspaper writer Herb Caen to coin the term “Beatnik.”

Although Kaufman, bristling with intelligence and acrid wit, wrote throughout his life and performed self-styled, extemporaneous readings even more often, he only published three books of poems over the course of his mostly obscure career: Solitudes Crowded with Loneliness, Golden Sardine, and Ancient Rain. In addition, three broadsides, “Does the Secret Mind Whisper,” “Second April,” and “Abomunist Manifesto” served to cement his place in the Beat pantheon. Yet, only since the early 1990s has his remarkable influence, scope, and power gained the attention of critics and readers alike.

Kaufman rarely provided anyone unflinching insight into his own past. He was born a native of New Orleans on April 18, 1925, the youngest of thirteen children of a black man with some Jewish ancestry and a black Catholic woman from Martinique. The family could trace its history as far back as a grandmother, a voodoo practitioner, who came to the U.S. on a slave ship. His literary education began at home in an educated, middle-class environment (his father was a Pullman Porter) where his school-teacher mother bought auctioned libraries and lined the shelves at home with them, and at least one brother had limerick contests on the front porch. Unfortunately, his mother died in 1954, before she read any of her youngest son’s poems. A more troubling note of his childhood was a run-in with the Klan. At age 13, he was dangled by his thumbs in an icebox by a white mob.

Kaufman set sail with the Merchant Marines at age 18 as a cabin boy aboard the Henry Gibbons, where he met a first mate who shared books with him. Later he became a National Maritime Union activist in the leftist vein, though he has not shown up on union roles, and supposedly suffered through four shipwrecks, including one in Alaska that resulted in damaged hearing. After being shunted aside for his activities when the CIO and AFL merged, he eventually made his way to the New School for Social Research and was an area director for Henry Wallace’s Progressive Party campaign in 1948. In New York, he met a wide range of jazz musicians, such as Billy Holiday and Charlie Parker (Kaufman later named his son after the ebullient jazz saxophonist), and the still as-yet-unnoticed Beat generation pioneers Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs. Years later in Big Sur he ran into the rest of the major beats, including Jack Kerouac and Neil Cassady.

By the mid 1950s, Kaufman married Eileen Kaufman, who urged him to finally write some of his oral compositions down and settled in San Francisco where he co-founded Beatitude, an early, pivotal marker of Beat culture that was printed on a mimeograph machine at the Bread and Wine Mission in North Beach. Eventually, City Lights Press absorbed the magazine. Already his long prose poem Abomunist Manifesto, with its marriage of social protest, immediate and fragmented language, and hallucinatory French surrealist imagery, was a mainstay of the local hipster poetry circuit, alongside his poems about the Death Row inmate Caryl Chessman (some eventually collected in 1967’s Golden Sardine).

By 1959 City Lights published Kaufman’s first collection, Solitudes Crowded with Loneliness, an ingenuous collection in which subjects ranged from European modernists like Camus, Picasso, and Miro to a homespun American blend of bebop jazz modalities (“Bird with Painted Wings,” “Walking Parker Home”) and rhythmic black street speech. One can find also find traces of both Whitman’s openness and candor, and Lorca’s “Poeta in Nuevo York”-era experimentalism. He also began to work on a play, The Matchbox, while continuing to rant against pseudo-beatnik weekend tourists that had begun to crowd the Bagel Shop. But the North Beach policemen didn’t appreciate such poets foisting themselves on chairs dangling subversive poems and marching against the rash of marijuana busts in the neighborhood. So Kaufman, seen as a bonafide leader, was arrested thirty-five times in one and a half years, and was even “ice-boxed,” moved from jail to jail around the city for a month, after he posted the surrealist Ole by Bill Margolis (which stated that Hitler was reincarnated in San Francisco) in the Bagel Shop front window and then urinated on the policeman who removed it.

By 1960, Kaufman’s “Bagel Shop Jazz” was nominated for the Guinness Poetry Prize, and he left the confines of North Beach and headed for the East Coast, where he was to read at Harvard but was too hampered by addiction to both alcohol and speed. He did, however, settle in the East Village on and off, met early black beat Ted Joans, and read poetry at the Gaslight, the Fat Black Pussy Cat, and Café Wha. Still, Kaufman’s fortunes dwindled. While walking to meet his wife, who had secured a ride for the family back to San Francisco, Kaufman was arrested in Washington Square Park and sent to Riker’s Island, where he received involuntary shock treatment for his so-called behavioral problems.

Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti flew him back to San Francisco one week before John Kennedy’s assassination, which forever changed the poet’s life. He promptly took a ten year Buddhist vow of silence, which was consummated by a total break from poetry readings and withdrawal into anonymity (even in the late 1970’s, he told Raymond Foye, his editor-to-be, “I want to remain anonymous”), which lasted until the U.S. troop pullout from Vietnam. In 1973, as Kaufman and his wife stopped to see a photography exhibition in Palo Alto on their way to visit Kenneth Patchen’s wife, Kaufman read a passage from T.S. Eliot’s “Murder in the Cathedral” and his first poem in ten years, “All Those Ships That Never Sailed.” Not surprisingly, the audience was stunned.

Soon, Kaufman returned to the scene and was reading at Malvina’s Coffee House and at the Intersection, a poet’s theater. However, Kaufman’s life was still precarious. He contracted pneumonia, fell off a pier, got banned from most bars except in San Francisco’s Chinatown, habitually moved around and often lost touch with his wife and child, and eventually survived a fire that destroyed his transient hotel. From the charred remnants, Raymond Foye miraculously uncovered Kaufman’s bound Moroccan leather binder, which contained the poems that were published in Ancient Rain in 1980.

Kaufman’s later poems, which range from 1973-1978, invoke not only the symbolic fury and expanse of Rimbaud and Lorca (“Ancient Rain”, “The American Sun”), but also quiet, yet forceful autumnal Buddhist sensibilities (“The Poet”, “I Am a Camera”, “From the painting by El Greco”). In addition to editing the book, Foye secured Kaufman a $12,500 grant from The National Endowment for the Arts. Despite ongoing privation and hardship, Kaufman’s psyche and intelligence were still intact, for he could still actively recite poems by Charles Olson, Claude McKay, and Langston Hughes, and his presence was a formidable influence on younger Afro-American writers, including Ishmael Reed and Maya Angelou.

Kaufman’s last decade was spent with Lynne Wildey, a partner and friend 22 years his junior, who was often not only his companion, but student too. She was the last one to collect bits of his oral compositions, mantra-like bursts that he mouthed frequently around the apartment in a magic blend of jazz and euphony, which were published in the posthumous Cranial Guitar, a varied and cogent overview of his life work.

2019 Books, Chapters, Interviews!

Hello Everyone!

The summer has already begun to beat its solar fists in Texas! I apologize for not keeping the news fresh and fast, but I have been writing, publishing, and photographing beyond belief, so my time has been thin, chewed up, and rushed. Below, I will provide the lowdown for each project, and I am excited to announce that two new books will be arriving before the end of summer – 1. Punk Chronicles: Recent Interviews From the Underground, which combines material from the last ten years (but also many new interviews from the last six months!), including members of Frightwig, Articles of Faith, Adrenalin OD, MDC, The Flesh Eaters, Toxic Reasons, Jello Biafra, Gary Floyd, Elected Officials and Ill Repute (by Jan from Trust and translated from German). 2. Will be Out of Step: Washington DC Punk Interviews featuring members of Government Issue, Soulside, Circus Lupus, Minor Threat, the Faith, Jawbox, and more!

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On the academic front, I just published my chapter “The Intersection of Music and Humor in Repo Man” in the huge and outstanding Routledge Companion to Popular Music and Humor, edited by TM Kitts and N. Baxter-Moore. Seriously, your library needs to stock this title. It covers a diverse range, from global music to politics and sexuality, that any student can easily immerse in it for weeks on end!

Recently, I also released two other books!

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Enemies in the Backyard: An Overview of Mid-America World War II Axis POW Camps  evocatively examines the soldiers interned in a rapidly scaled-up America dealing with the sudden influx of enemies torn from fresh WWII battlefields. Often gobsmacked by the sheer scale of America, such weary and wary POWs landed on the East Coast then often experienced mid-America regions teeming with Whitmanesque proportions. Many POWs pursued a frenetic life, from soccer games to work in buzzing canneries. All the while, they experienced a place of idiosyncratic customs, plus religious values and community traditions binding the fabric of a country that imported workers from Jamaica and Barbados but shunned the civil rights of African-Americans. POWs traded black market goods, constructed art, and made music while experiencing an America of canned sundries and chocolate bars, an America smitten with Western movies and sandwiches. As such, the internment of these men has remained part of the lore, heritage, and memories that continually shape discussions about prisoner treatment, democracy, rehabilitation, war, and acts of kindness.

You can purchase it directly from me (email leftofthedialmag@hotmail.com), for $13.00, postage paid anywhere in the states, or from Quimby’s in Chicago and Amazon!

And…

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Beneath the Shadows of T.S.O.L. is a collection of four interviews with groundbreaking singer Jack Grisham by me as well as Welly, editor of Artcore and singer for the notorious Welsh punk band Four Letter Word, that span the years from 2001 to 2018; it also includes a concise T.S.O.L. record chronology by Grisham, plus a fan essay too, along with myriad rare photographs (including from famed punk chronicler Ed Colver!) and tons of gig flyers. It is an essential read for those interested in the Southern California punk revolt, death/dark/gothic/politico punk, and the history of underground music on the West Coast.

You can purchase it directly from me (email leftofthedialmag@hotmail.com), for $13.00, postage paid anywhere in the states, or from Quimby’s in Chicago and Amazon! I will be supplying copies this summer to Microcosm Press in Portland as well!

Thank you to Greater Baytown, a Sunday supplement by the Baytown Sun newspaper, for printing an interview with me last week and featuring 16 of my photographs of the area, which includes wetlands, industry, and historic neighborhoods on the east side of Houston!

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After a hiatus, I have been writing for the Houston Press at length too, so be sure to check some of my new interviews/overviews/previews relating to these iconic bands!

Roky Erickson of 13th Floor Elevators, whose tribute is here.

Agnostic Front, an interview with intense singer Roger Miret, here.

A preview of Jonathan Richman’s new album and performances, here:

An interview with Blaine of Nashville Pussy, here.

An interview with Exene Cervenka of X, here.

A preview of the new tour by Peter Murphy, here.

A conversation with Walter Salas-Humara of the Silos, here.

An interview with Tony Reflex, iconic Southern Cali singer of the Adolescents, here.

More soon, be well, David E!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m Back! Fall Updates! MDC book!

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Hello Everyone! Tis the season of roiling political debates and momentous votes!

My apologies for the long delay in updates – I took a hiatus over the summer to gig with three bands and complete a series of books and manuscripts, including my long-awaited overview of Axis POWs in America, which I am sending for outside peer review to a state university publisher on Monday. Yet, most of you will likely be more excited by my newest opus, a short history of longtime political punk agitators MDC, which is now out!! It debuts tomorrow night, Sept 21 at 14 Pews in Houston at 6pm, where iconic singer Dave Dictor and drummer Al Schvitz will be joining me for My Videos Rule, a live discussion program!

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With 114 pages of interviews, flyers, and photographs, some from the vault of Dictor, it also features a band chronology penned by Welly of Artcore, who designed the intense cover, a short essay by Sophie Rousmaniere, singer of the Elected Officials, and worldwide tour diaries by Dictor too! Savvy and keen-eyed J.R. Delgado (Doomsday Massacre, Party Owls, Screech of Death) designed the book interior! Limited signed copies will be available throughout the weekend, plus regular versions will be available through Microcosm, Quimbys, and Amazon!

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Also, I have published RocknRoll Decontrol Vol 1 (and Vol. 2 is in the design phase), which is a compendium of punk flyers/gig posters and photographs that I have hand-made and snapped over the last thirty years. It too is over one hundred pages long and features a wide array of performers, from UK Subs, the Freeze, and the Vibrators to Milemarker and Jonathan Richman.

Here is a portion of the introduction to get you amped-up:

“I will always be a beginner, an amateur, a folk photographer — 95% unlearned, untrained, and DIY. But I know that I am a chronicler too, from the bottom up. These pages document my league of punk peers – some of them no more than obscure howlers dredging up the dirtiest chords, others impassioned ideologues merging politics and art panic, some trying to reinvent forms and genres, others simply trying to tear up everything and leave no sacred bones behind. These are the midnight kids and gasoline-tinged hipsters, the veteran believers and rock’n’roll tyrants, the mixed-up/messed-up drugged out delinquents and the alcohol-infused bitter agitators, the straight-laced and weirdoes too. In a way, these volumes are a way to recount thirty years of being more than a witness. In some way, they become rough’n’tumble homages and tributes. Or simply a call to arms. Grab a camera. The night is about to end. Get up and go. Do not let the opportunities fizzle in the backwaters of your soon-to-be-doomed memory. Stand still only long enough to get the action frozen in a flash. Then, crash, wake up, and do it again. ”

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I believe in blue, I believe in you!! Join people like Bill Maher, Willie Nelson, Stephen Colbert, and me in our support for BETO!! On Sept. 30th, the same day as his Houston debate, I am sponsoring a punk DIY yard sale for the El Paso skateboarding boy! Thank you to John Anderson from Doomsday Massacre for providing the yard, Josh Barry of Jealous Creatures for jazzing up the poster, Dianna Ray from Mydolls and Bob Weber from Really Red for helping coordinate it all, and YOU for your efforts to make Texas blue! Stand up and be counted!

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Many thanks to Dolf Hermannstädter and Andre at Trust, the veteran old school punk zine from Germany, for publishing my pic of Fishbone in delirious action in downtown Houston last spring in Issue no. 191, Aug/Sept 2018! Long live black soul/punk/ska musical hybrids!

Lastly, my research has recently been noted, quoted, and incorporated into several academic works – books, articles, master’s thesis output, etc. – but I am especially thankful when writers really understand and appreciate the scope I undertake: my language play/maneuvers/metaphors, shifting rhetorical arguments, and theory merging. For instance, Christos Tzoustas at Utrecht University has penned an excellent work, “We Can’t Help It If We’re From Florida: A Discursive Analysis of the 1980s Gainesville Punk Subulsutre,” which is smart and complex, focused and fluid, and readable and engaging. Plus, it examines and grabs a handful of my arguments from Visual Vitriol, especially in terms of skateboarders re-imagining space and horror tropes being revealed on punk flyers. I am honored, Tzoustas.

Be well, speak soon, David E!

March Events! LA Invasion! Artcore! Trust!

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On Saturday, March 31, be sure to check out Ed Colver, one of the titans of photo-punks, who will also be joining Brian Bannon from JFA, Mike Watt of Minutemen (who will be gigging at 6 PM after the discussion), Ronnie Barnett of the Muffs, Chip Kinman of the Dils, Ben Merlis of Fields of Fire, Mish Bondage of Sado-Nation, Jimmy Alvarado of La Tuya and the zine Razorcake, and Christian Kidd of the Hates for a discussion of poetics, politics, the legacy of D. Boon, and punk conscience at Pop Obscure Records in Los Angeles!  5 PM, FREE, All Ages, be there! 735 S Los Angeles St, Los Angeles, CA, (213) 628-3898! I am psyched to host the one-of-a-kind event!

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Thank you to Andre and Dolf Hermannstädter at Trust, the legendary, cool, long-running German zine, for running a full page version of my photograph of Texacala Jones (Tex and the Horseheads!) live in Austin at Carousel Lounge last fall for our Women in Punk event! Issue No. 188, Feb/March 2018.

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Also, the after-party for the Pop Obscure Records whirlwind event will take place at Cafe NELA in Cypress Park, where I will be playing drums for the Hates, who have been shredding punk and hardcore with a vengeance since the late-1980s in Houston, TX. Plus, I will behind the kit for Mish Bondage and the Blokes, who will be unleashing the classic punk assault of Portland icons Sado-Nation — including tunes like “Fear of Failure,” which were once found on Mystic Records compilations.

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Next, thank you to Welly at Artcore for running my four-page interview with Pat Doyle of Offenders in Issue #37: the super-detailed, lengthy conversation is a tribute piece to singer JJ Jacobson, who died tragically just a few months ago, and the layout is rife with rare photographs by the likes of Geoff Cordner and also highlights eye-gobbling posters/flyers — the museum of the punk streets.

Lastly, on the morning of Sat. March 31 at UCLA in Los Angeles, I will be speaking at the 2018 annual American Comparative Literature Conference at 10:30 in the seminar “’Stay woke’: The Politics of Protest Songs.”  In the 20-minute presentation, I will unveil “Germs-filled Adolescence: Hardcore Punk’s Politicization of the American Neighborhood.” It is a folklore-based view of how punk transformed American communities through informal DIY, peer-to-peer networks, which democratized music communities.

Jan updates! Events in LA! Mike Watt In-store! UCLA Conference! Photos/writing in Trust, MRR, Artcore, and more!

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Mike Watt, Houston, 2014, with Left of the Dial, featuring our interview

Hey rockers, readers, and realists, after a semi-slow ‘dead of winter’ period in which semi-tropical Houston was inundated by both a rare snow and a ruinous freezing rain within weeks, things have thawed and are heating up fast! First, I will be zooming to Los Angeles for a dizzying, intense, and completely compelling weekend from March 30-April 1.

On the morning of Sat. March 31, I will be speaking at the 2018 annual American Comparative Literature Conference at 10:30 in the seminar “”Stay woke”: The Politics of Protest Song,” in which I will present “Germs-filled Adolescence: Hardcore Punk’s Politicization of the American Neighborhood.” It is a folklore-based recounting of how punk transformed American communities.

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Mish Bondage, Houston, Fall 2017, by me

For the early evening hours, I have organized a stellar, cross-country focused, trans-generation punk roundtable discussion at Pop Obscure Records, 735 S Los Angeles St, downtown (213-628-3898), which will be free, all ages, and begin at 5 PM. The theme will be “Talkin’ Punk Politics and Poetry: D Boon and Beyond” and will include a ‘who’s who’ of punk icons from across the country and eras, including Mike Watt (Minutemen, fIREHOSE, Dos, and more), Ronnie Barnett (The Muffs), Brian Brannon (JFA), Chip Kinman (the Dils, Rank and File, Blackbird, and more), Mish Miller/Bondage (Portland legends Sado-Nation), seminal photographer Ed Colver (Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, Circle Jerks), writer/rocker/historian Jimmy Alvarado, Ben Merlis (early-2000s hardcore traditionalists Fields of Fire), Christian Kidd/Arnheiter (the Hates, the oldest ongoing punk band in Texas), and local punk historian and bass player David Jones. Others might join us as well.

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The Hates, Rudyards, Houston, 2010, by me

After the vivid, lively, detail-thronged discussion, Watt + the Missingmen will be playing an in-store set at 6 PM of spirited tunes to celebrate the birthday of D. Boon, which falls on April 1!

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D. Boon, photographs from the collection of Biscuit of the Big Boys

Later that night, the after-party will commence at Café NELA (1906 Cypress Ave, Cypress Park) with sets by Mish Bondage (doing a number of Sado-Nation tunes) and the Hates, both with me on drums, plus secret guests to-be-announced! A poster is being designed, and I will update this as further details emerge.

In the meantime, thank you to Dolf Hermannstädter and Andre for including my pic of legendary MDC (with Dave Dictor in full politico frenzy during an October gig at Rudyards in Houston) as well as their openers Elected Officials, in Germany’s TRUST # 187 (December/January), which is out now!

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My in-depth 7-page interview with Dave Dictor of MDC, featuring a ton of my photos from three separate gigs, is also in the new issue of Razorcake as well!

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An extra thank you to Maximum Rocknoll for publishing my tribute to JJ Jacobson of Offenders (including comments by members of Hickoids, MDC, and Black Salve), the much-beloved, sheer-energy, hybrid 1980s hardcore band from Austin, who died suddenly a few weeks back. You can read it here. It will also be featured in the next print version of the fanzine, while my interview with their nimble, stalwart drummer Pat Offender will be published both in German (in a future issue of Trust) and in English in an upcoming issue of Artcore (Wales). I am also in the process of interviewing members of the Huns, Elected Officials, and soon, the Next.

Lastly, PM Press is now looking at the manuscript of my book examining World War II POW camps in mid-America that held Germans, Italians, and Japanese, which I am calling the Hidden Home Front, thanks to the brainstorming of my wife.

The future awaits, impatiently. Let the word in. Look for updates soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oct. Updates, New Article, New Book!

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Dave Dictor, MDC, Houston, Oct. 2017, by me

After a tumultuous hurricane swept through Houston and almost endangered the Visual Vitriol collection, I can breathe a bit easier again since the water only came within a few feet of my door, and a month has passed, so I can re-focus on all my efforts.

First, I was able to an entire evening with MDC a few days ago. One, I was able to mingle and document Al Schvitz, who is one of the last old school drummers on earth: his style is a flashback to a time before the heyday of homogeneity (tons of metal-doused bass drum, perfectly cued tom tom patterns). He exists in the blurry continuum between Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa, Mitch Mitchell, and himself … with family roots way back in NYC downtown music.  For years, I have studied his licks, and thankfully, he now has a book almost out, on the the same imprint as Dave Dictor, to shed light on his career and MDC itself. Long live the Schvitz man.

The entire MDC set was explosive — the rickety bar was a surging earthquake of emotion driven by propulsive new/old tunes: Al was the beatmaker king of the limber punk-jazz forays, Dave was the tribal leader/dance hero/soapbox firestorm/circus maestro emitting tough street poems of the heart and mind, all played out in fiery tunes that shifted effortlessly from 82 to 2017, from Reagan’s covert death squads to Trump’s coded language insurrection! They even played “Borrowed Time” from the early 1990s, and I charged the mic for “Radioactive Chocolate,” “Kill the Light” and more … Why is America so straight and me so bent?

Make sure to read my brand new interview with the kitten-hearted firebrand hardcore hero Dave Dictor here in the Houston Press. I appeared alongside him at Vinal Edge for a book event (he read the first portion of his memoir) and MDC acoustic set (featuring the classics, plus an Agression tune!) on Oct. 6, which was free and all ages. The funds we raised from book sales and beer donations, $250.00, went to a local, LEED-certified, no-kill animal shelter.

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Opening for MDC, the world’s premier politico hardcore band packing chops aplenty, is a difficult undertaking, but the Elected Officials, whose intense global punk perspective infuses every second of their ferocious musicality, which resembles portions of everything from Septic Death and Poison Idea to the Subhumans, False Prophets, and classic ’82 punk, left the crowd a broiling mess-heap of sweat, pile ups, and gesticulations, but singer Sophie Rousmaniere has the most elastic facial contortions I’ve seen in years — comedy and horror and anger and spite — completely mesmerizing!

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The Elected Officials, Rudyards, Houston, TX, Oct. 2017, by me

Thanks to the crew at Razorcake for reviewing the new album by my artcore band No Love Less in Issue #100, with punk hero Mike Watt! We are heading to Austin soon to play the Punk Women 2 fest with Screech of Death, Texacala Jones, and more, so this is a cool reminder of our Texas weird-punk strengths.

Next up, I was lucky to both see and interview (Bill Stevenson, at least) the Descendents, where I stretched over some dude’s head to capture their dizzying, effortlessly meld of mushy heartache, teen goofiness, spasms of caffeinated joy, occasional politics, keen adult observation, surf-core prowess, punk blasts, and much more, like 1982 and 2017 collapse – time itself was a mirage; there had been no years between (EB White would say), well except for the gray hairs on me and them! Their last album Hypercaffium Spazzinate was sublime — chock-full of grinding hooks and surging tempo changes, smart and lively lyrics, dizzying drums, touches of nostalgia and protest, and heartache too.

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The Descendents, House of Blues Houston, Sept. 2017, by me

So, be sure to check out my brand new interview with Herculean, dexterous, brainiac drummer Bill Stevenson, whose chops are singular and unmatched, as is his production work as well (200 plus credits!). We talk about Grant Hart, hurricane relief, their new album, and much more! It is here.

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Next month, watch out for the release of my book Punk Women 2, which will be 13.00 ppd. anywhere in the states. We are also celebrating it with two parties — one in Houston and another in Austin. So, check back for more details at the beginning of November!

Last, but not least, I would like to thank Alyssa Mercante, the author of “Goths, Punks, Queers, and Gamers,” a paper that delves deep into the subculture and referenced several of my passages from Visual Vitriol. Though I was able to read it a few weeks back, the link no longer works, but be sure, all you scholars, especially those concerned with contemporary queer culture in the digital age, to check it out.

 

 

 

 

 

Aug. 2017 updates, new Punk Women book, new interview!

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In an odd change, Texas has not quite been a typical, searing, yellow blast-furnace of heat this August, due to some storm fronts that have cooled things into a muggy gray morass. This has left me time to complete some projects, like a brand spanking new interview with blues-punk countercultural gay hero Gary Floyd of the Dicks and Sister Double Happiness, which was done live in front of cameras in June, but I transcribed it for Razorcake, who generously published it on-line this week here. It will be also featured in a Chicago-area fanzine soon, so I will let you know when that is available.

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On Friday, here in Houston, we will be celebrating the release of my new book Punk Women, a 100-page compendium featuring an incredible array of powerful, potent, and and particularly inventive women, from off-the-radar local acts to legacy bands of all stripes, from first wave punk to melodicore and garage rock. It includes my profiles of many, but it also features several women discussing their own lives, histories, and band anecdotes, including members of 45 Grave, the Muffs, the DT’s, Mydolls, the Epoxies, Jawbox, Ultra 5, and more.

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It utterly teems with flyers and photos, and it can be yours, for 13.00 postage paid in the U.S. Just email leftofthedialmag@hotmail.com for details. Only 400 copies were made, so this is scarce, cool, and a game changer, I hope.

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Next up, look for my interview with underdog Canadian punks ZEX, a female-fronted unit that combines the savvy hooks of Chelsea and Gen X with the politics of bands on labels like Profane Existence. It will be in an upcoming print edition of Razorcake. Plus, I am finishing a manuscript for a university press, my secret right now, plus wrapping up a chapter for an academic anthology on comedy and music, in which I tackle notorious underground hardcore punk satire and saga Repo Man. Will share more once things get cookin’!

 

 

June Updates!

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Mike Watt, Houston, May 2017, by me

All you music lovers, punk-funk-avant legions, and followers of the bass, make sure to read my lively, keen, and curious interview in Houston Press with the Yoda-meets-Jack Kerouac of modern music, the indelible truth-spielin’ Mike Watt, who opened for the Meat Puppets locally at White Oak Music Hall in Houston! It can be found here!

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How might I celebrate the birthday of Mia Simmans (d’Bruzzi), of Frightwig, Mutants, and Mudwimin (among others!), whose ceaseless intelligence, commitment to music journeying, mentorship to kids, and pure DIY rock’n’punk attitude are second to none! How about a … 6 page spread in Razorcake! I have 8 extra copies, so if people would contribute $10.00 to my fund to help John Reen Davis (Anarchitex and Happy Fingers Institute), a local Autistic punk veteran in financial duress, I will send you a copy. If you contribute $20.00, you can choose a book about Gary Floyd’s Dicks years too, or a new book covering the art and life of Biscuit of the Big Boys. For $25.00, you get all three items, plus a button and stickers! Punk to the people! Email me at : leftofthedialmag@hotmail.com for payment options. I thank Mia for making my mind expand over the years! She is seminal — a true taste of guts and vision, talent and craft.

Speaking of interviews, don’t forget to read my newest interview with John Doe of X (now celebrating 40 years of lit-punk mastery and ruckus!), which can also be found in the Houston Press here! This is my intro, just to tease you:

The Feral Poetics of X at 40

When punk burst through the nylon sheen of West Coast pop culture in the moribund mid-1970s, it flowed in multiple directions, from the turbocharged, thorny, brash masculinity of Black Flag and the contagious, chaotic philosophical musings of the Germs to the keen, incisive social political observations of the Avengers and Dils. X went even further, grafting a whole history of modern music into its resilient fabric and injecting a poetic despair and disruptive literary abandon into lowbrow rock’n’roll.

Doing so meant they created something as stylized and enduring as Patti Smith but even more syncretic: they revisited the tin-can A.M. dreaminess of 1950’s radio, borrowed a bit of dusty twang and chrome-lined rockabilly, vented anger like Vietnam era counterculture, embraced the moody, eruptive Doors, and shook with buzzsaw but hummable punk. In essence, they created a series of albums that feel like Heart of Darkness set in a lurid, crumbling Los Angeles strewn with fragments of Charles Bukowski, Dashiell Hammett, Arthur Rimbaud, folk broadsides, teenage kicks, B-movies as well as salt of the earth, and sleazy tabloids.

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The Rock For Light/Destroy Cancer Benefit for Christian Kidd of the Hates that I organized was a smashing success that raised thousands of dollars for his chemo/radiation/recovery! It featured Hallowbody (former Academy Black, Zipperneck), Mel Hell and the Texas Mod Crushers, No Love Less (half of Mydolls), U.Y.U.S., and the All-Star Punk Squad featuring Beau Beasley singing the Hates, Allison Gibson singing L7, Melissa Bransfield Waters singing Big Boys and Roky Erickson, Bill De Gidio (the Pagans, Guillotines) playing Dead Boys guitar, Lisa Fer (45 Grave, Lisafer, Snap-Her, Nina Hagen, DI)  singing DI, Undertones, and the Ramones, Christi Workman (Stinkerbell) singing the Misfits and Dead Boys, J.R. Delgado singing Party Owls and more, as well as Gina Miller of the Magnetic 4 and Kimonos singing The Sonics and Berlin! An abundance of auctions and punk memorabilia helped make the night a blend of punk rock flea market and dirty barroom Sotheby’s!

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Thank you to Henry Sloan for making this humorous, spot on, and wonky promo for Gary Floyd’s upcoming appearances in Houston, including Walters on June 25th, where Gary will be joined by my band the Biscuit Bombs as we cover tunes from Sister Double Happiness and the Dicks (all to raise funds for HATCH, which provides much-needed services to local LGBTQ youth in Houston) and at Cactus Music on June 23rd, where Gary will celebrating and highlighting his new book I Said That, a compendium of Dicks lyrics, flyers, and photos, that I edited and published (contact me for further info). Henry used several of my photos, and Gary is a genuine down home Buddha/folk hero and faux hayseed queer philosopher of punk, bar none! Watch it below!