Saturday, June 8, 2019

More Fun In The New World: The Unmaking And Legacy Of L.A. Punk by John Doe, Tom DeSavia and Friends. My Review.

Sequel to Grammy-nominated bestseller Under the Big Black Sun, continuing the up-close and personal account of the L.A. punk scene, with 50 rare photos.

Picking up where Under the Big Black Sun left off, More Fun in the New World explores the years 1982 to 1987, covering the dizzying pinnacle of L.A.'s punk rock movement as its stars took to the national -- and often international -- stage. Detailing the eventual splintering of punk into various sub-genres, the second volume of John Doe and Tom DeSavia's west coast punk history portrays the rich cultural diversity of the movement and its characters, the legacy of the scene, how it affected other art forms, and ultimately influenced mainstream pop culture. The book also pays tribute to many of the fallen soldiers of punk rock, the pioneers who left the world much too early but whose influence hasn't faded.

As with Under the Big Black Sun, the book features stories of triumph, failure, stardom, addiction, recovery, and loss as told by the people who were influential in the scene, with a cohesive narrative from authors Doe and DeSavia. Along with many returning voices, More Fun in the New World weaves in the perspectives of musicians Henry Rollins, Fishbone, Billy Zoom, Mike Ness, Jane Weidlin, Keith Morris, Dave Alvin, Louis Pérez, Charlotte Caffey, Peter Case, Chip Kinman, Maria McKee, and Jack Grisham, among others. And renowned artist/illustrator Shepard Fairey, filmmaker Allison Anders, actor Tim Robbins, and pro-skater Tony Hawk each contribute chapters on punk's indelible influence on the artistic spirit. 

My Review:

 “Seeds were thrown, for sure. What was essentially hiding in the shadows moved from a whisper to a scream.”

Tom DeSavia’s opening to More Fun In The New World, “We’re Having Much More Fun” is brilliant. And so is his voice on the audio book. I’d actually been reading the book while listening to the audiobook version simultaneously. Full impact!

“Mosh Pit Ubuists” by Tim Robbins is such a treat as a reader to get a little of his past history in his story and to learn how he was influenced by punk back in the day. Enjoyable reading!

“It Sounds Too Much Like The Blasters: 1982-1985” by Dave Alvin of The Blasters is a keen look at their early history and experience with this music business, namely Warner Bros. Records. 

“Sliver Of Glass” by Jane Wiedlin deserves a holy cow! She did it again. Wowed me, she did. Wiedlin is brutally honest with her storytelling and doesn’t hold back. Gives us the ‘fly on the wall insight’ to what it was like to be her in a time that she should have been having the time of her life. I don’t know her but I love her. My heart can’t help feeling for her. I adore her candidness and her ability to share things that are so raw, so honest. So unusual. I’d hug her, if I could. 

“Under The Marquee” by W. T. Morgan takes us back to his early experience with punk and the bands that define the times. Especially X. He describes the making of his movie, X - The Unheard Music Documentary in such a beautifully heartfelt way. The passion comes right through. Skilled storytelling. 
Something precious about the memories he shares with us readers. And the film! Thank you,” I would say to him. 

In “The New World” by John Doe I couldn’t wait to rip through. Wasn’t sure if I wanted to read it on paper first or listen to the audiobook. I knew I would be in for something desirable. 

This is a bittersweet tale, as he writes about the crisis’s that were happening at the time in the Midwest and beyond. Workers were losing their jobs. I love how he describes their songwriting, “We took the opportunities we were offered and toured and wrote songs as if our life depended on it—because it did.” There is so much heart and soul to the telling of this story. Eloquent, direct and at the same time good reading.

“Another State Of Mind” by Mike Ness and Tom DeSavia is so great because it reminds us old timers what it was like in the early days of discovering punk and the LA scene. I remember Mike from those days and have watched Social Distortion evolve. Like Bad Religion, I can say I remember them before they were famous. Great story!

I kind of got lost into Keith Morris and Jim Ruland’s “Hollywood Shuffle”. An easy read that made me laugh. Well, there were sad moments but as an old punk it was fun to read about the places I’d been with many of the people I’d known. The Circle Jerks were one of us and they were always playing, so it seemed. When I think of them and bands like X and Adolescents my teenage years float back to me. I’m glad Keith is still around to tell his story.

“Deliverance” by Charlotte Caffey parallels Jane Wiedlin’s account of being a Go Go. These stories inspired me to look at some of their live performances. Searching their faces for signs of trouble. At the time, they were America’s sweethearts! They appeared squeaky clean though I did see them live in their punk days. The way I preferred them because they were authentic then, before they lost themselves to fame.

“The Ongoing Cost Of A Low-Grade Immortality” by Jack Grisham is a WOW! No surprise. Nevertheless, a WOW! Dark. Dirty. Disgusting. Poetic. Sick. Brilliant. The man is damn talented. He’s got a gift. And that story is sheer genius! 

“Princess Of Hollywood” by Pleasant Gehman is a who's who and where's where to the Hollywood scene in the early to late eighties. An edgy look back to the days of what was dubbed Disgraceland. 

“Los Lobos: Los Rockstars Accidentales” by Louie Pérez shares the early beginnings of Los Lobos (confusing everyone) and the passion for the music. “There we were, part of a music community whose purpose was to free music from the kidnapping by mainstream rock. It was unabashed, liberating, and obnoxious. It was more about spirit than how good you played. I bet that some bands were formed in the van on the way to the show.”
Beautiful story. 

I loved John Doe’s sweet (bittersweet) little story about Top Jimmy. 
“Top Jimmy: In The Mud And The Blood And The Beer!” Precious.

“Our Wolf” by Chris Morris is as good as I would expect! I love the history he shares and the commentary. His writing is smooth like an 50s newspaper reporter. Just give me the facts! In Chris’ stories you can be a fly on the wall. He takes you there. Right there!

"Grand Theft Paper: A Conversation With Billy Zoom” is a adorable! Interesting about Top Jimmy and the trouble that followed him. It’s nice to hear Zoom share personal bits like this. I can feel the admiration both Doe and Zoom has for this guy. Touching if not laughable. At times, of course.

“With punk in my life, the preps, jocks, nerds, etc. seemed like mere cretins in the rearview rather than my torturers or captors.”
“Prep School Confidential: Finding My Voice” by Shepherd Fairey, a force to be reckoned with. So interesting how punk inspired his artwork and the emotion he has for the music. He is able to detail what led him to where he is now. Very inspiring!

“You Say You Want An Evolution” by Tom DeSavia is passion filled story and talks about the evolution of music and how it shaped his life. I love these coming-of-age stories that are enthusiastic and entertaining.

“This World Is Not My Home, I’m Just Passing Through” by Maria McKee and Tom DeSavia is a story that should be made into a memoir. Maria McKee’s biography would be a good read. This story flowed like it was supposed to be on its own. Really nice. 

“The Paisley Underground, Americana & Me” by Sid Griffin where not everything good happened in the LA punk scene. Shares the early days of his band, Long Ryders. And the influence they would eventually have over Americana and alt-country music. 

“None of the bands were quite ready. Punk hadn’t really happened in L.A. yet—it was like the hour before dawn.”
“Ten Short Years On The Sunset Strip” by Peter Case is a slick story about his rise to fame in the Plimsouls and I finding his voice.

“The Kinman Brothers: American Music” by Tom DeSavia is a dedication to the musical contributions of Chip and Tony Kinman. RIP Tony Kinman. 
It’s difficult not to get emotional reading Chip Kinman’s, One Thousand Nights. His story just seems to fall into place.

“Skate Punks” by Tony Hawk is about his relationship with punk rock and skateboarding. Loved this story! “I was lucky that my parents didn’t mind if my new skater friends had mohawks or piercings, as long as they were polite. And they were.”

"Free Radicals: A Conversation With Fishbone” by John Doe is an ode to these magical musicians and their music. Such an uplifting interview. Beautiful.

“Come On, All You Cowboys . . . Don’t You Wanna Go?” By Annette Zilinskas, who was the original bass guitarist for The Bangles then later lead vocalist with Blood on the Saddle. Another Valley Girl, like myself. A bit of a coming-of-age story. Her musical coming-of-age. 

“Ain’t Love Grand” by John Doe kind of made me sad. Made me see a sliver of what it must be like to have the pressure of being in a band. A successful band, at that. 
As an outsider looking in, not sure how John and Exene managed to stay together as long as they did, especially through all the stress of the ‘business’ and the 24/7 lifestyle. That had to take a toll. Thanking Doe for sharing his soul a bit with us.

Terry Graham writes a clever little story about the ending of The Bags and the changes that took place after The Decline Of Western Civilization. In “Shot Glass Full Of Luck” the author describes his rock ‘n’ roll adventures with The Gun Club. Or misadventures?! Very clever and stylish. 

“Hardcore To Spoken Word: A Conversation With Henry Rollins” by John Doe is relatable if you were a part of the early punk scene in Los Angeles. When things started changing,  the impact was swift. It was nice to learn more about Rollins and understand his situation, being part of Black Flag. Very insightful.

“Everything Became Possible” by Allison Anders is bliss! It’s her passion and ambition that drove her. Her success is not by accident. She was a motivated person with an authentic voice. She had gumption and was interested in more than money. This woman is a trailblazer and paved the way for many women living in a man’s world. Big respect. Loved how she detailed how she made the movies and the chances she took. 

Fallen Soldiers by John Doe is very well worded. Genuine. 

I read “More Fun In The New World” with great gusto as it was compelling all the way through. It’s not just about music but life. Honest, bold, brave. There’s depth and vulnerability. The writers stepped up and wrote stunning narratives that were both candid and engaging. The audiobook is an extra bonus. Everyone did a fantastic job. And a big high five to Krissy Teegerstrom who played a big part in making this a beautiful piece of history. Impressive. 

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