Friday, January 8, 2010

Gimme Something Better

I have pronouncedly mixed feelings about the Bay Area. It's the only city that I've ever been assaulted in, and the weather seems to hold a lot to be desired. If I may throw down the douchebag gauntlet, save for Rut (who, truthfully, I consider Canadian) and a couple others, most of the people I've met from The Bay seemed strangleable on the level of your average Bedford or 7th Ave Brooklyn resident. My feelings about the bands are considerably more polarized. You will rarely catch me saying an unkind word about anything revolving around the Jawbreaker or Samiam franchises. The same goes for Neurosis or J. Church. On the other hand, for all their Rancid (who, along with OpIvy absolutely rule, as well) and Hot Topic credibility, I still don't understand the appeal of AFI. Green Day is another one. All twenty of the people currently in the band seem to be decent people, but I never liked Billie Joe's voice and the MTV ubiquity killed him for me like they did Kurt Cobain. Don't get me started on that American Idiot ridiculousness (or it's Broadway adaptation, a horror show that is just plain wrong on so many levels).

JS-NYC ambivalence aside, The Bay Area's squatting, activistism and punk rock credibility is not one to be understated. Gilman continues to be the high water mark of collectively run DIY spaces (with all respect to ABC) and MRR continues to be the worldwide punk journal, microscopic type and mercurial championing notwithstanding. With Gimme Something Better, Jack Boulware and Silke Tudor have collected a host of anecdotes from the seminal players in the rise of Bay Area Punk Rock. It's notable that many of the true movers and shakers of that scene are both still alive and active in the scene. I have always been of a mind that the anecdotal way is the best way to report on scenes like these. It's so much easier in the long run to just have the players recount situations firsthand whenever possible. It's what makes John Robb's Punk Rock book so great and something that no doubt allows one to cover one's ass on the libel end of things. MRR and Gilman are discussed in depth, as is the whole liturgy of Dead Kennedys litigation. Flipper and other precursors to the DKs are covered, but as the title says, it covers through the Green Day blowup, which blessedly excises a lot of the current dreck coming out of the West. Things close with some reminiscence of Tim Yohannon, arguably the father of the whole Bay Area scene. It's an engaging read, and there are a ton of bands that I would have liked to have seen more commentary from, but the foreward mentioned that they delivered 800 pages to the publisher. That accounts for 300 tantalizing pages of excised material that I can only hope will surface in some form soon. If you have any taste for East Bay Punk Rock, you would do well to pick up Gimme Something Better. Big JS-NYC props to ack Boulware and Silke Tudor for a great book. Check out the web presence here.

1 comment:

Rut-a-tat-tat said...

i must say i'm thrilled to fall into the "less strangleable" column of the jsnyc personality profiles.

i'm gonna blush...