Although I never got to see Black Flag during its glory days, I did catch several of singer Henry Rollins’ early spoken-word shows around L.A. as well as many of the Rollins Band’s first gigs. Sweaty, smart, and life affirming. Many punks griped when he signed to Interscope and started showing up on Gap billboards, but I thought it was rad of him to take such deals and start a book publishing company with the dough. Cole, Cave, Selby–what could be cooler than publishing your friends and heroes, not to mention your own words? That seemed like a stretch for the the buff, tattooed, long-haired/shaved-head frontman but he’s gone even further since then. Acting in movies. Raising funds and attention for the West Memphis 3 (I finally did see him sing Black Flag songs at Amoeba promoting that particular record). Hosting a cool talk show. Starting a must-hear radio show. Writing a compelling column for the LA Weekly. And now publishing a coffee-table book of photography.
T.S.O.L. singer Jack Grisham just released a new collection of short stories, Untamed. To celebrate, he had a book signing/punk rock matinee at The Observatory in Santa Ana. For the price of the book you got a free show! I got there just in time to introduce Jack to Eloise, have my copy signed, and catch the end of the afternoon’s final opener. The Detours are a first-wave Orange County punk band, circa 1977. And in addition to decades of shredding to dip into, they can throw in a ripping version of “No Way” (doesn’t hurt that various members have played in The Adolescents, D.I., Christian Death, Social Distortion…). Awesome. Four o’clock headliners T.S.O.L. gleefully served up all the old hits like maniacs, from anarchist rippers like “Abolish Government/Silent Majority” to proto-death rock classics like “Sounds of Laughter.” The pit was raging for a Sunday afternoon, and I was stoked that my five-year-old daughter lasted more than halfway through the set. I was also shocked to find out that the band played a second show that night at an American Legion Hall in Baldwin Park. Damn! Jack says the band is embarking on a South American tour this week, but there’s another chance to get your book signed at Beyond Baroque on June 23. Go! Jack isn’t as scary as you think. PUBLICATION REVIEWS Untamed, Jack Grisham Jack Grisham’s literary work is joyfully twisted, right in step with the T.S.O.L. singer’s musical output (dark, violent) and legend (troublemaker, ass-kicker). And like his memoir, An American Demon, the brand-new collection of 10 short stories by T.S.O.L.’s singer is loosely based or at least inspired by his own life experiences. What’s real and what’s made up provide a ton of subtext for literary punks but fallen angels, torture, murder, and sex with stuffed animals make it a real page turner for anyone. Accompanied by R. Crumb-esque illustrations by Scott Aicher. [Punk Hostage Press] Hard Art, Lucian Perkins This collection of images by Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Lucian Perkins draws not from his stints in Afghanistan, Kosovo, or the Persian Gulf War but the Washington DC punk scene of 1979. The unpublished black-and-white photography captures key gigs in the embryonic punk scene that included Bad Brains (before they left for New York) and Teen Idles (featuring pre-Minor Threat Ian Mackaye and Jeff Nelson). The live shots are stunning but the photos of the audience are just as important–reflecting a real sense of community and not just a star factory. Insightful narrative is provided by none other than participants and musicians Alec Mackaye and Henry Rollins. [Akashic Books] Perpetually Twelve 10 The balance has shifted from words to art in the latest issue of McHank’s zine out of San Diego. Among other pieces, I really dig the hot-rod inspired brushs of Mr. Sleeep and bold inks of Frenemy. McHanks’ fan art is awesome, too. I call it that not disparagingly but because he lovingly depicts Kermit the Frog and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with the...Continue reading