Sorry for being AWOL during this period of national unrest, which quickly overshadowed the seasonal mirth and dampened many spirits! But, punk has provided a potent, timely soundtrack to the distress, protest, and antagonism …
In fact, I hope those of you in the Cleveland outer limits can zoom by Mac’s Books on Feb 24th to join me for a discussion about the volatile nature of punk and politics, which is bound to be as feisty and illuminating as my stopover at Quimby’s in Chicago last fall. I am psyched to announce some special guests too: the Lenny Bruce of hardcore — wordslinger Tony Erba of 9 Shocks Terror, Face Value, Cheap Tragedies, and FYPM! Plus, I am crossing my fingers, Lamont Thomas, the dexterous drummer behind This Moment in Black History and Bassholes, and the mastermind behind Obnox, is trying to zoom in from Akron. If we are mind-blowing lucky, writer/rocker Dave Swanson of a million cool bands, including Rainy Day Saints, the Cynics, and Guided by Voices, might might might be able to sneak in during the last minutes. The event is FREE, all ages, and open to the public.
The next day I appear on an academic panel at the International Association for the Study of Popular Music, US Branch: “Gimme Shelter: Popular Music and Protection” convening at Case Western University: I am in the “Punk at 40: The Spirit of ’77” coterie with scholars from UCLA and the University of Virginia, which promises to be stimulating!
In the future, I will let you know about a similar conference in Grand Rapids, this time relating to Midwest punk history, that will take place in June, so check back!
In the meantime, you may enjoy my new interview with synth-punk insurrectionists and literary rockers Milemarker, which has been syndicated across the web; in it, I provide a brief overview of the band’s impressive history and interview Al Burian, the editor/writer of Burn Collector. These links below will provide you access.
I want to thank writer Tim Hinely at Dagger, as well as Fred Blurt, for running a swell review of Out of the Basement, my book exploring the underground and indie punk community in Rockford. I appreciate their efforts.
Plus, I am also honored that Kate Scott Daly at Third Coast Review, out of Chicago, also seems to share my fondness for labor history and economics, punk resilience, and the ethos of scene building, which she explores in her review here.
As a former radio DJ host, and longtime radio listener, I feel indebted to David Martin Davies and Jan Ross Piedad at KSTX: San Antonio / Texas Public radio that produced a stellar one hour interview with me about the politics of punk. Besides featuring me focusing on the legacies of idols like Billy Bragg and the Ramones, it features a bevy of music, all streaming for free. Davies himself was a teenage rule-breaking punk, so he brings much verve, know-how, and sincerity to the conversation here.
Large-Hearted Boy, a terrific web page designed for both music and literary-minded folks, let me pen a list of ten songs that clutched my consciousness as I wrote Out of Basement, then the editor placed those songs into a set list (Soulside, Naked Raygun, The Stooges, etc.) that you can stream off the site as well! It’s a highly personal, poetic examination of my musical fixations!
Speaking of, Indie Guides, an intriguing web company based in Canada, discussed Out of the Basement with me as well, even translated one version into French, called “The Untold Story of Punk Rock Explosion in Rockford, Illinois in the 1980s,” a 9-minute read featuring photos and streaming video here that provides some context and background to the scene that immersed me.
Also, I just stumbled upon the chapter “Musical Pauses, Gendered Nostalgia, and Loss in Jennifer Egan’s ‘A Visit From the Goon Squad’” (from the book Write in Tune) which features two quotes from my book Visual Vitriol contemplating gender roles and linked tropes found within punk history, narratives, and culture. I appreciate author Danica van de Velde’s nimble use of my POV.
More thanks to Johnathan Kyle Williams at the University of Northern Iowa for making use of my Left of the Dial interviews, including Dave Dictor and Thomas Barnett, in his recent savvy thesis “‘Rock Against Reagan’: The Punk Movement, cultural hegemony, and Reaganism in the Eighties.” I know both of those punk icons would be thrilled to know that our conversations still resonate years later.
Lastly, I also am delighted that my work on Xerox and photocopy art has been discovered by a generation of writers, like Kate Eichhorn, who features a paragraph from Visual Vitriol in her seminal look at the format and technology in Adjusted Margin: Xerography, Art, and Activism in the Late Twentieth Century. Equally so, Daniel S. Margolies understood my basic folkoric interpretation of Xerox punk art as part of a transitional moment in American participatory culture: his fine chapter “Ethnographic and Folkloristic Study of Popular Culture,” with some small portions of Visual Vitriol, can be found in the tome A Companion to Popular Culture edited by Gary Burns.
Keep up the faith! Punk to the future! David!