With the renewed interest in the history of American punk, there are many new books popping up, so many that it can be overwhelming and confusing at times. As with any history, getting the most complete and balanced information means seeking various sources rather than relying on just one or two "experts." Some of the books that I've come across lately are worth a special mention because they tell the story of the very early and very unique punk scene in Los Angeles.
A while back, a couple of friends brought over their copy of Live at The Masque: Nightmare in Punk Alley, which was written by Brendan Mullen and features photos by several of the original scene photographers. As I flipped through the pages of this punk year book, I was transported back to my crazy, fun teen years. There are lots and lots of candid photos and the general mood of those first few months of the Hollywood punk scene really comes across. Brendan and I have had our differences lately and even though I'm mad at him right now, I have to say that this is an excellent book and a must have for anyone who was there or who is interested in understanding what went on at the Masque when we thought no one was looking.
Punk Pioneers by Jenny Lens is far and away the most awesome coffee table quality book about the early punk scene. The book, published by Rizzoli/Universe, contains an incredible range of artists that were around during punk's conception, birth, and childhood. Its scope is much broader and helps the reader understand where punk was coming from and what was going on in the parallel musical universes of bands like Van Halen and artists like Bob Marley. I think this aspect of Jenny's book is really important, because as I've said time and time again, seeing early punk in isolation does not really convey how far it was from the mainstream nor does it acknowledge the influences of what came before it. Jenny's book acknowledges the New York punk and early glam bands that set the stage for what would become a unique West Coast cultural movement. Punk Pioneers cements Jenny's status as punk photography's Alpha Bitch.
Finally, I'd like to say a little about a book a friend of mine made. Louis Jacinto is a talented photographer who has the largest collection of Bags photographs that I've ever seen. Louis approached me several times about collaborating on a book with him and although I love his photos, I just never found the time to sit down and write a book. But Louis would not give up. He kept writing to me and finally I suggested that he write his own narrative and takes quotes from my blog for his book. Well, at my Eastside Luv show a couple of weeks ago, Louis surprised me with the book he self-published. I love his D.I.Y. attitude! The book contains great photos of The Bags with quotes from my Diary of a Bad Housewife blog and various interviews I've done. The blog excerpts are odd for me to read because I know there is a complete blog entry that goes with those quotes. Luckily, Louis does send people to my website (thanks Louis!) so they can get the whole story if they feel like it. But to tell you the truth, the real stars are the photos. Louis deserves all the credit for making this book happen. So, if you want to see some cool Bags pictures, check out his book The Bags, from Onodream Press.
I know I've mentioned Punk 365 before, but it also features several of the best photographers of the time and is well worth investigating.
Book Reports are due at the end of summer : )