:: Wednesday, March 08, 2006 ::
Rip it to shreds
Because of my interest in the subject, I've been thinking a lot about buying Simon Reynolds' recently published book on the post-punk movement, Rip It Up and Start Again : Postpunk 1978-1984. But after reading Jenny Lens's recent thoughts about the book, I've changed my mind.

Apparently, according to Jenny's assessment (not based on reading the book -- she's refusing -- but on reviews and other inside info), Reynolds says that San Francisco was more important than LA in the punk and postpunk scene. It's revisionist history that downplays not only LA bands like X and the Germs, but also icons like the Clash.

What a crock!

I've never met Jenny, but I've corresponded with her, and I've been a fan of her work since I first discovered her photography of the early punk scene in the pages of We Got the Neutron Bomb, the oral history of LA punk. We've corresponded about the book I'm working on, and the book she's working on, and her amazing photo project, and I'm impressed by her zeal and passion to keep the fires of punk burning even after 30 years. Plus, it's just so amazing to be able to correspond with someone who was there, firsthand, recording the movement back in its earliest days.

Jenny hasn't read the book either, but has read the reviews, and has some connections that give her insight into its contents. She writes: "I won't waste my time reading that book. Cos apparently, with all his research, Simon, like so many others, just regurgitated what others wrote. Seems like he either dismissed or was surprised the actual participants who didn't know what he meant by 'postpunk.'"

Here's an excerpt of what she says about Rip It Up... in her blogpost, Postpunk, Truthiness and Living in a Time of Fiction . . . (minus all the boldface words Jenny uses for emphasis). I suggest you go to Jenny's site and read her entire post. It'll be worth your time.
SF punk scene more important/relevant than LA? God save us all. Mabuhay v. Masque/Whisky/Starwood/Roxy/Orpheum/Baces Hall et al! Avengers, Nuns and Dead Kenedys v. X, Screamers, Germs, Weirdos, Bags; then harcore Black Flag, Middle Class, Circle Jerks; roots/rockabilly from Ray Campi and Blasters; art bands like Monitor, Extremes, Human Hands and let's not forget Claude "Kick Boy" Bessy's Catholic Discipline w/Phranc and so on.

There is NO comparison and I don't say that cos I'm from LA.

I LOVED the Nuns and Penelope Huston and the Avengers are still going strong. I shot the Ramones, Patti, Clash, Iggy and LA bands in SF (after seeing them in LA first). But if you have to pick ONE city over the other to best represent punk and whatever postpunk is, for sheer numbers of legendary bands who influenced others and are still beloved, it's ludicrous to choose SF over LA.

Those kinds of irrational choices make any thesis less credible 's not backed up by facts.

There is NO sense of TRUTHFUL history. As I wrote Joe, quoting film-maker Michael Moore at the Oscars® a few years ago: “We live in a time of fiction.”

Makes me ill, explains why it's been so hard to get my pix published . . . 30 years of this shit.

I saved a review by Jim Windolf of Simon's book earlier this month from nytimes.com. I was DISGUSTED with it. The premise is: punk ended with the Pistols and everything after it is post-punk. The book doesn't mention X or the Clash:

"But the Clash doesn't make Reynolds's postpunk list. Neither do similar acts of the era, like the Jam, the Police, X, Elvis Costello and Blondie, all of whom began by making raw music only to end up turning out more sophisticated fare tinged with soul, funk, reggae, disco, hip-hop or Latin touches."

What a piece of bullshit. X is based in part on American roots, whether Hank Williams or Leadbelly or Patsy Cline and Gene Vincent or should I go on? Throw in some Ferlinghetti and Bukowski, Raymond Chandler, Theda Bara/Lousie Brooks (Exene and I share a love of silent films) and of course FILM NOIR.

There is simply no group who represented, as the Blasters sang, "American Music," in a way that was more ground-breaking than X. Considering Exene is from Illinois, Florida to LA; John Maryland to LA; Billy Iowa to LA; and DJ, like myself, from LA, the only thing missing is the northern east coast or NY sensibility. But they blended music from so many genres to describe what was then so LA, but is now more universal: city living, plus political comments common to both liberal New Yorkers and Angelenos, or other large metropolitan, educated cities. And of course, the human condition, relationships between men and women, success and failure, with enough references to American culture to ensure their music is truly classic and timeless.
"Fight the good fight," she writes. "I often feel like Sysiphous, pushing that rock up the hill. But I'm not alone . . . and one day LA will be accepted as equally important as NY and England. That's my mission in life."

It's a great mission, Jenny. I'm with you.

, , , , , ,

:: Andrew 14:33 + ::

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