Last week, I went to see an in-store/record-release show by The Muffs at Amoeba. They played most of the great new LP and were as aweseome as ever–combining ultra-catchy girl group melodies with no-holds-barred punk rock attitude and out-of-this-world musicianship. So it was an honor to see one of my pictures printed full-bleed on the insert. Kim and Ronnie had asked me for the file but I wasn’t sure how it would be used or if it wound up on the cutting-room floor. My photography is far from great but the photo looks pretty damn good printed 12″ by 12″ and there is some poetry in the situation.
You might recall that Giant Robot mag was spawned in the era of punk rock zines. Before starting it, Eric Nakamura and I had both contributed to publications like Fear of Grown-Ups, Flipside, and Fiz, and he actually has had photos printed on Muffs 7″ singles. (So did early GR contributor Vicki Berndt.) The print version of GR has run its course but I still go to shows and take and share photos, so it’s very cool that one of them would be used by one of my favorite bands and I would join the esteemed ranks of Eric and Vicki. Thanks, Muffs!
I went to some other shows, too… I think it was Pabst that sponsored a night of heavy music at The Echoplex. Deep Six band To The Point opened, featuring members of Fetus Eaters and Spazz. I only caught a few songs but their powerful brand of hardcore was straight-up, filler-free, and a perfect way to fire up the evening.
Next up was one of my favorite bands and the new-school kings of skate rock, The Shrine. Does anyone rip harder or have more fun onstage than the trio from Venice? And are there nicer dudes anywhere? So what could be better than having the homies practically in my backyard at a six-dollar show. No, they didn’t play “Symptom of the Universe” (Sabbath, of course). Yes, they sang, “The Duke” (by friend and supporter Chuck Dukowski). Friends on the East Coast and in Japan, don’t miss them when they head your way.
I remember one of the first times I corresponded with McHank. He responded to an Instagram picture I posted of the Dum Dum Girls in concert by saying , “Dude, give Kristin, I mean Dee Dee, my love. Old pal!” He did a similar thing with a photo I posted of Mrs. Magician. Later on, John Reis said hi to him from the stage at a Night Marchers/Hot Snakes show at Alex’s Bar. I wondered, Who is this guy and how does he know everyone?
Sometime in between, I met McHank in his hometown of San Diego at Comic-Con. He gave me some copies of his stapled-and-folded zine and I was instantly hooked. It’s like a mixture of Cometbus, CARtoons, and Tiger Beat with tons of honest introspection and observation, cool and random art, and unabashedly loving band interviews–often written by hand or even brushed.
The ninth and most recent issue of the digest-sized publication has cool art (Tim Kerr, Travis Millard, Skinner, Bwana Spoons, McHank himself…), killer interviews (Brandon Welchez from Crocodiles, Mary Animaux from White Murder…) and all-star contributions (John Reis writing about discovering the Ramones, Joey Cape in memoriam of Tony Sly…). Even so, my favorite piece of all time is still McHank’s essay about growing up in the Bay Area and not knowing how to drive when he moved to San Diego and how he had to ride bikes or take the bus to get to shows. Can you get more personal or street level than that?