Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Stains on the Carpet

While I was in San Francisco, I went to Needles and Pens, a great little shop n the Mission district. Mostly art, zines and wearables, but they also had a tiny shelf of books on punk rock. I picked up Please Kill Me, opened it up, and was immediately transported back to 1977. How had I missed this book before? I felt like this was the story of my life - except my life wasn't quite as dramatic as what's in this book! I was just a fan, in my leopard skin jacket and Fetish t-shirt, but I loved Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, the New York Dolls and later the Ramones. They're all here.
I read the whole book on the train from San Francisco. It's great because it's just quotes from everybody who was in on the scene. There's no pompous editorial voice trying to make sense of it all. But it also made me sad, especially towards the end, when everybody seems to be dying. There was just so much stupidity.
But Legs McNeil gives the absolute best description of punk I've ever heard. And I see so many parallels with the D.I.Y. culture today. Punk is a spirit that lives on, even if so many of the originators are gone.
"This wonderful vital force that was articulated by the music was really about corrupting every form - it was about advocating kids to not wait to be told what to do, but make up life for themselves, it was about trying to get people to use their imaginations again, it was about not being perfect, it was about saying it was okay to be amateurish and funny, that real creativity came out of making a mess, it was about working with what you had in front of you and turning everything embarrassing, awful and stupid in your life to your advantage."
*And I'll give a prize to anyone who can figure out the musical reference in this post's title.*


  1. I've been meaning to comment for a while now. Great blog. Your kimono to jacket refashion inspired me to spend Easter weekend lovingly unpicking the thousands of (hand!) stitches from a kimono I once loved, but no longer wear. Such lovely silk deserves to be worn.

    Great post. Really takes me back. The title is a line from Disintegration, by The Cure.

  2. Thanks Brenda - I'm glad my post was inspiring. Taking apart a kimono is a lesson in patience, isn't it?
    And I wasn't referring to Disintegration, but I think The Cure might have had the same song in mind that I did. For an extra clue, who is the band in the picture?
    But if you send me your email address, I'll send you a prize anyway. It's great to have a reader in the UK! (My partner is from Wigan.)

  3. Jacquie9:40 PM

    I wouldn't have thought of most of those bands/individuals as punk. Did the Velvet Underground influence the NY punk scene? Yes, I liked the DIY approach to the early punk music (and the spontaneous, non-choreographed approach to performing it, which is in sharp contrast to most of today's youth music. Even so-called punk-princess Avril Lavigne does the choreographed dance moves in her new music videos. Although, apparently she and her friends designed the new album cover and logo themselves, so maybe she's still got some DIY in her).

    By the way, I thought of you when my daughter and I browsed through Build-A-Bear the other day. You'll be happy to know that we went home and made our own clothes for one of her favourite old stuffed animals.

  4. What the book shows is how the early art/glam bands did influence punk. And good work at Build-a-Bear! Or should I say at getting out of there without spending a fortune.


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