Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari is the kind of book that helps me sleep better at night for two reasons. One, unlike horror stories or true crime novels, the subject matter is studious enough that after twenty minutes of reading or so I’m ready to doze off. Two, because when Harari helps explain to us all why the world is as messed up as it is, at least I can stop staring at the ceiling wondering why all night.
Everyone loves a good comeback, or a story about the kid who got pushed around when he was younger but eventually gets his revenge, or the cautionary tale about the guy who lost it all to drugs and drink and somehow turned it around. Lucky for us, with My Damage, the autobiography of Keith Morris, we get all three.
It’s hard not to imagine Tom Wolfe or Phillip Roth rolling their eyes in disgust when they learn that 90s skate punk bands are getting book deals, presumably to recount enthralling tales of the one time on tour when they duct taped the drummers butt cheeks together, or the bass player downed a bottle of Jamo and woke up spooning a tranny. Fine literature is for educated intellectuals, not bros with guitars and wallet chains. So what to make of NOFX’s book, The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories landing near the top of the New York Times bestsellers list?
Ever heard of this new band called The Descendents? They’re blowing up right now. Their new album Hypercaffium Spazzinate on Epitaph debuted higher on the album charts than some pop stars and they’re playing to massive crowds at big festivals all over the world. Oh wait.. Our bad. They’ve been around for about three and a half decades now.
Guest contributor, Good Riddance lead singer and hockey expert Russ Rankin gives us his take on the November surprise.
There were a lot of good music videos that came out this last year but we could only think of about 5 off the top of our head that stood out from the rest for some reason, and that’s probably due to the fact that, in reality, there probably weren’t that many good music videos that came out this last year. So that lead off sentence was actually a total lie. Here are some damn good ones though.
My favorite type of non-fiction books are of the ‘Why do us crazy humans do the things we do?’ variety. Any time I go on tour there’s usually a stack of them in my bunk. Some of the best in this genre are Driven: How Nature Shapes Our Choices, by Paul R. Lawrence and Nitin Nohria, The Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan, and Man’s Search for Meaning, by Victor E. Frankl, among countless others. Greg Graffin, Bad Religion frontman and college professor has been asking and answering that question on stage and in classrooms for better than 30 years.
Anyone who knows the history of Black Flag knows about Spot. The legendary South Bay lensman had a brief tenure as bass player in the band but went on to produce most of their earlier E.P.s and helped build the legendary Media Arts studio where most of their seminal tracks were put to tape. He then began taking photos professionally of the local surf, skate and music scene in the late 70s and early 80s for beach newspaper the Easy Reader. His photo collection, Sounds of Two Eyes Opening – Southern California Life: Skate/Beach/Punk 1969-1982 displays his considerable talents with convincing proof.
For myself and a lot of other die-hard fans, the release that defines the mighty Black Flag is the Jealous Again E.P. With its bright yellow cover featuring the now iconic Raymond Pettibon drawing of a schoolteacher holding up a chair against an enraged youth, this was the record that almost single handedly ignited Southern California hardcore punk rock. While their genre defining first E.P. Nervous Breakdown with Keith Morris introduced a more desperate form of punk music than the Sex Pistols and the Ramones were creating at the time, and Damaged with D.C. interloper Henry Rollins has become the trademark Flag album, Jealous Again was even more unhinged than both, and would inspire countless other bands, kicking off an underground hardcore scene that continues to this day.
Bob Dob is the patron artist of everyone who will probably have Social Distortion playing at their wedding, assorted birthdays and their funeral. His colorful portraits of diminutive punk rockers, meanie mouseketeers, and pill, pot, cheese, paper bag and amp headed everymen, are instantly captivating, especially for those of us who can’t get through Ball and Chain without getting a little choked up.