Stuff It! Their Punk Rock Stockings, I Mean! With More Than CDs!

There has been an awful lot of non-album related punk rock stuff coming out lately: Band history and concert DVDs, zines, books, and even toys. For the little terror you have on your list, you might want to think of tying one of these to a chunk of coal and aiming it at his head come Xmas morning (or buy them all through Hanukkah! Sure!).


Giraffes In My Hair: A Rock ‘N’ Roll Life by Bruce Paley and Carol Swain – This is my favorite graphic novel of the year, and it is marinated in a life lived through real rock and roll delivered via stories as wide-open and lung-puncturing as a two minute Ramones rant. Artist Swain is an alternative comics’ veteran (known for her existential 2003 masterpiece Foodboy, also from Seattle’s own Fantagraphics) with an attractively scruffy style; storyteller Paley has an author-blessed background in the margins of the freak milieu, autobiographically describing scenes with Black Panthers at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, getting threatened by NYC’s top tattoo artist in the CBGB’s days, and sharing a nod with Johnny Thunders. Paley’s prose is as simple and elegant as can be about nerve-wrecking lives of drug smuggling gone wrong, going to Disneyland on acid and being turned away, stealing watermelons and doing jail time for it, and existing as a junkie to the soundtrack of Patti Smith and the Heartbreakers. Swain’s artwork could have been spot illustrations in Punk Magazine, so it fits, but is not sloppy or exaggerated. (She’s more like Raymond Pettibon of SST Records’ nefariousness.) This comic book adaptation of a real life shows the biggest bruises and the smallest scars, but cuts out all the heroic flab. Again, one of the best graphic novels of the year, as well as one of the best rock books too.


Burn Collector (#14) by Al Burian is a looser affair, though it also ties together diarizing with doodle-like comics from the writer of the zine himself. And it’s also one of the more rewarding reads I’ve had lately, being a somehow fiercely focused yet free flowing meditation and manifesto on genre subversion (how the ghettos of thought often have the deepest fortunes of talent), the superiority of minimalism as a motivating aesthetic (as in Pick It Up And Play It Yourself), DIY culture, and riding the damned bus. Burian has been in bands Milemarker and Challenger (among others) and has also been around in some very worthwhile music cultures, such as Ann Arbor, Chapel Hill, and most recently Chicago. A longtime punk writing veteran who did a regular column for Punk Planet, this is his long-running personal zine and though it may look raw (though charming), it is stylishly printed and the quality of writing is Harper’s Magazine level. Just with typos like the kind you make when you put something of your own together at 3 AM at the kind of copy center that inspired employees in Superchunk to found Merge Records.


X-Ray Spex, Live At The Roundhouse Station is a great little boxed set of dazzling photo-lyric book, live CD, and live DVD of this deeply beloved UK punk band’s recent recollection of members. Leader Poly Styrene still shines boldly as a frenetic front-woman with anti-consumerist warrior moves, apocalyptically raving about plastic, junk food, people who behave like cliches, and general civilian feebleness. It seems like she’s having a great time no matter how she pisses and moans. She is the harsh young edge of early punk that became hardcore, but the fun and experimental first wave UK punk rock of her original band match how young she must have been back then. The anthology kicks off with their best known anthem, “Oh Bondage, Up Yours!” which deplores wanting “little girls to be seen and not heard,” but highlights for me are the protest mix-tape essential “Germ Free Adolescents” and the sax-driven ode to being a fuck up, “I Can’t Do Anything.” If you’re tired of all the macho rockism of most punk nostalgia, don’t miss this OG seed of girl riot and indie rebellion. (MVD)


Green Day: The Boys Are Back In Town is a deluxe 2DVD collection of biographical study, about a band led by a kid who sold copies of Cometbus zine to his fellow high schoolers till they kicked him out for it. They were supposed to be the next Nirvana, but beyond the commercial juxtaposition I like the parallels of the bratty suburban kids with long hair not exactly being straight up cool with their more urban Bay Area contemporaries, raised on punk and pop and metal and not satisfied with remaining in the rut of 80s hardcore. Pals, music critics, and other San Francisco bands chime in for a great deal of conversation and speculation about a band that started in marginal musical fringes and never forgot that they don’t fit into American society, even if it well finances their message. (MVD)

That’s a lot of heavy stuff, but what if little Anne R. Key won’t follow a New York Dolls narrative or watch Jello Biafra flashback about the day? Then how about warming her violent heart with super-deluxe hand-crafted dolls like these below, available from
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One Comment

  1. Bruce Paley
    Posted January 22, 2010 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    Carol and I just wanted to say thanks to KEXP and Chris Estey for their kind words regarding our graphic novel Giraffes in my hair: A Rock’n’Roll Life. Cheers, guys!

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