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Tucson Weekly Feel Lucky, Punk?

Punk rock's glory days revisited.

By Greg Petix

DECEMBER 29, 1997:  LAST SUNDAY AFTERNOON you found yourself at a dusty, backyard barbecue somewhere off of Fourth Ave. Some middle-aged punks stood around the fire, lite beers in their hands and faded band logos on their arms. Ignoring the din of their tone-deaf children and muted addictions, they talked about the hard, gem-like days of their dissolute youth, of Wrex Records and Nino's and Useless Pieces of Shit, of dead junkies whose mohawks still grew underground. You weren't around during those glory days, so you listened, a little puzzled, a little bored, a little left out.

That's pretty much the way you'll feel as you flip through the pages of Make the Music Go Bang! The Early L.A. Punk Scene. As stated in the introduction, it's not so much a history of the L.A. scene as it is a collection of scrapbook reminiscenses by people who were "there," including Excene Cervenka, Keith Morris, and Claude "Kickboy Face" Bessy (you know him as that horrible "New Wave is ssshit" French guy from The Decline of Western Civilization documentary).

Morris delivers some good, first-person anecdotes about the early days of Black Flag and the Circle Jerks, and Louis Perez of Los Lobos gives a novel account of what it was like trekking to Hollywood from East L.A. to play rancheras in front of thrashing carousels of punk rockers. Unfortunately, most of the other essays are pretty slight unless you have a fetishistic reverence for punk minutiae.

The book is mainly a forum for the photographs of Leonard, a ubiquitous shutterbug of the time. Some of the pictures are mildly interesting (Pee Wee Herman slumming it; a fucked-up Lawrence Fishburne working the door at a club), and a few are even amazing (a smash-faced punk smiling at the camera as if he had just lost his virginity); but the bulk of these are no different than what you'd see in some 12-stepper's photo album.

Boiled down, it makes for an okay fanzine article. But for $18...I don't think so. Wait for it to show up at Bookman's, if at all.


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