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 V.19 No.36 | September 9 - 15, 2010 

Rock Reads

American Nightmare

(Why your music editor hates herself)

Touch and Go: The Complete Hardcore Punk Zine ’79-'83

by Tesco Vee and Dave Stimson, edited by Steve Miller • Bazillion Points Books • $29.95

Little over a year from now I'll have endured three decades of carbon-based livin'. Approaching this mortal milestone, more and more I'm beginning to recognize the old hippie dictum—Don't trust anyone over 30—to be a valid, if not troubling, piece of advice. Last week I found myself talking all fuckin' punk about America's teeming population of brainless youth who pass the time sucking from television's homogenizing teat, living generally mundane, unconcerned lives.

"Disaffected kids who love anarchy and play in bands and dish out pithy insults to jocks and thugs are what the world needs more of," I preached. "Especially this town." I finished the tirade with something, something about materialism on the corporate radio, boots with the fur, and stupid Ryan Cabrera's stupid hair.

Then I realized, while saying this, I was drinking a craft beer in a gentrified neighborhood and waiting for a gourmet, wood-fired to-go pizza. I'd be taking that pizza home to my restored historic rental in a new-model European car, and enjoy it while flanked by a purebred lapdog, a bouquet of calla lilies and an All-Clad cookware collection. I'm a charlatan. It's been years since I loitered in a parking lot, smoking cigarettes and listening to Black Flag and not giving a fuck. In the meantime I've been assimilated into a bourgeois, tiny dogged, home-decor-magazine-reading, high-end-kitchen-equipment-using lifestyle.

To help abate the resulting self-loathing, I like to imagine that ex-Black Flag singer and fame whore Henry Rollins struggles with the same snag—especially the calla lilies. And I imagine that Rollins, in addition to a perfectly manicured record collection and an arsenal of his own pithy insults, helps to abate his self-loathing with a copy of the coffee-table-ready compendium Touch and Go: The Complete Hardcore Punk Zine ’79-'83. His band is prominent in the volume, as it was routinely and lovingly featured in the Lansing, Mich.-based fanzine.

Touch and Go, of course, went on to become, and still is, an influential, no-bullshit record label that has housed bands such as the Necros, Shellac, Big Black, The Jesus Lizard, CocoRosie and The Black Heart Procession. Released this summer, Touch and Go, is nearly 600 pages (copy editing be damned) of well-written wisecrackery and hardcore glory, committed by the hands of Tesco Vee (of The Meatmen) and Dave Stimson, creators of both the zine and the label. If you ever need an antidote to your assimilation, or just a reminder that Eric Clapton's music is a piece of shit, this book is here for you. The youthful rantings might touch your degenerate heart and fill you with sleazoid nostalgia.

In addition to its affirming qualities, Touch and Go is bloated with a bounty of information about obscure, vintage punk. Beyond the entertainment, it’s valuable reference material.

By the way, the lapdog’s name is Lux Interior.


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