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Funny, inspirational and one of the best oral histories
am 17. Juli 2000
Whether punk to you is Iggy Pop rolling on broken glass or the ignoble death of Sid Vicious, this is the book that takes you into the wild, whacked and hilarious world of people "having fun killing themselves" as the book jack describes. The inspiring part of the book is in the fact that most of these bands were talentless and awful when they started and someone told them to just do whatever and they just did whatever without a market survey or executive telling them what would sell. The hilarious parts are teh stories of people sometimes basically clueless and singleminded in their need to offend (I recall Robert Asheton's (sic) wearing of an SS uniform at Iggy Pop's wedding when the bride, the groom and most of the people there were Jewish) There are oral sex scenes on stage, messed up rock stars trashing things and Iggy Pop collapsing over and over again. Other artists who aren't "punk" per se also lend their voices and stories including the Warhol factory and Patti Smith as well as Jim Carrol (by the way, the writers really really hate Lou Reed. They tend to love to put Lou Reed is a creep stories into the mix)
Ultimately many of these stories have been told many times in many different ways (see Miles Davis' autobiography for the dangerous lives of jazz musicians) but in punk there was a revelry to the danger that let the audience in on the evil lives and flaunted the wild lifestyle more than anything. Punk is both a music genre and a self-destructive/seductive lifestyle and this book captures that perfectly.
At the end when all the stars are dying because they can't sustain these lives forever you are left with a feeling of nostalgia but nothing in the way of cautionary tales, because people who choose their deaths in such a cavalier manner can only be applauded for going out in such a spectacular manner.
One last thing - the title alone will get you dirty looks in your workplace, church, synagogue or mosque. It's still worth the trouble