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.
Everyone knows of the wide ranging influence of seminal Hermosa Beach punk bands Black Flag, The Circle Jerks and The Descendents. In many ways these bands are bigger now than they have ever been with the new Descendents album on Epitaph records hitting the Billboard top 20 and the reconstituted FLAG blowing away all other bands on festivals with big heavy hitters. All three of these influential bands came from a tiny one square mile town of Hermosa Beach, even went to the same high school. But not everyone knows about The Last, the pioneering Hermosa Beach band that bridged the gap between 60s influenced garage rock and the punk rock to come.
There are a lot of ways to find out about books. Sometimes you get one recommended to you by a friend or read a good review in the newspaper. I spend a ridiculous, unhealthy amount of time in book stores so sometimes I’ll just see one I think I’d like based solely on the cover art, the title or reviews on the back cover, (My wife loves this and the stack of half read books on my nightstand) and this was the case for me with David Eggers. Years ago I saw his first book, “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius,” on a display table and instantly thought, whoever had the balls to name his book something like that must have some interesting things to say.