Interview with NOlympics LA, By Daryl Gussin and Steve Couch

“The more your learn about it, it’s pretty hard not to oppose.”

Webcomic Wednesdays #397 by Eskander Fairweather

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Interview with Fest Founder Tony Weinbender by Nighthawk

Fest is the creation of Tony Weinbender. For nearly twenty years, he has continued to run the weekend-long music festival in Gainesville, Fla. The annual punk rock party is definitely something every music fan should experience at least once.

Deb Frazin Photo Column—Rollins Band

Going through some of my old photographs, I found some snaps from The Rollins Band at The Whisky!

Chris Boarts Larson Photo Column—Swordweilder

It’s no secret that I love the Amoeba-Grinder style of metallic crust (aka Amebix and Axegrinder influenced). I pretty much wear that one right on my sleeve. The show was outside on a steamy August night, under a bridge, next to the river beside a huge pile of rocks and under a full moon.

1919 by Eve L. Ewing, 88 pgs.

The Great Migration, the exodus of millions of black Americans from the South to the North, began in 1916 and lasted for a few decades. The migrants were unwelcome, and the drowning of a young black man in Chicago’s Lake Michigan on July 27, 1919—white people on the shore may have knocked him unconscious by throwing rocks, or he may have drowned trying to avoid those people—was the catalyst for a race riot.

Poet and sociologist Eve L. Ewing chanced upon a 1922 report titled The Negro in Chicago: A Study on Race Relations and a Race Riot, inspiring a series of poems on the migration and riot, plus a few about Chicago in more recent decades.

The poems don’t offer historical instruction (so keep reading). Instead it’s an authoritative and entertaining panoply of voices and styles, including biblical verse, jump-rope chant, and government document. (And I will resist qualifying “entertaining.”)

Ewing quotes the report as saying that Chicagoans saw The Great Migration as “the worst calamity that had struck the city since the Great Fire.” One of Ewing’s poems is titled “True Stories About the Great Fire”:

Everything they tell you is wrong.
The Great Fire came here in a pair of worn loafers.
eating its last sandwich wrapped in paper
and the Great Fire had a smell of grease and flowers.

William Faulkner, I think, said something to the effect that people write novels because they lack the skill to tell their story within the concision of a poem. I’ve never seen this maxim demonstrated more masterfully than in Ewing’s poem “keeping house,” in which a black maid tells us about her life with her white employer. I’d quote a verse/section, but that would be like quoting twelve percent of the year’s best novel about twentieth century American race relations. –Jim Woster (Haymarket Press, HaymarketBooks.org)

Forty-Five Thought Crimes: New Writing by Lynn Breedlove, 95 pgs.

I feel I’ve read these poems before. This isn’t a commentary on originality; this is what it should feel like to have your life represented on the page. There have been anthologies published on trans poetics—and debates, too— around what makes a “queer” art, a “trans” art; how can it ever be universal? The answer, of course, is that it never can be and never will be. But as diverse experiences—the experiences, say, of transmasculine queers or spiritual queers or punk queers—become better represented (and thank whatever powers that may be that trans representation has come far enough queer punks can be published, too), a politics starts to develop. Sets of, not universalities, but commonalities; things often shared.

In the same light as Cristy C. Road’s Next World Tarot, or Alex Wrekk’s current work—or the resurgence as a whole, of holistic, even secular spiritualities within the queer and punk communities—Breedlove’s is a spiritual text, invoking the ancestor, Prince, the meditation of loving someone so truly. Breedlove does not shy from history, from his history in Tribe 8, as a “dyke,” something transmasculine folks often shy away from. I often joke “dykes taught me how to dress,” but aside from that, I rarely acknowledge that was once a community I considered myself a part of, however briefly, now that I’ve “transitioned,” whatever that means when you’re non-binary.

The work these poems do, the creation and recognition of these histories (and for Breedlove, this is not just his gender and sexuality, it is, too, about his mixed indigenous and German heritage), though confusing and uncomfortable, are necessary to build an understanding of queerness, of fluidity, of our own histories and the knowledge that they are never as simple as we are taught to believe. So though I’ve read these poems before, I was happy to read them again, and to feel bolstered by them in a way we all deserve to. –jimmy cooper (Manic D Press, manicdpress.com)

Frame of Mind: Punk Photos and Essays from Washington DC, and Beyond, 1997-2017 by Antonia Tricarico, 176 pgs.

Antonia Tricarico’s Frame of Mind is a picture book that spans from 1997 to 2017 and while the work is primarily of D.C. bands, it covers other acts Tricarico captured throughout the U.S. and Europe. The book also includes essays by different women in music, including Alice Bag, Allison Wolfe, Joan Jett, and more.

It was enlightening to read how each person got into punk and found their place as musicians. In that sense, it was also empowering and I hope many young women who are contemplating playing an instrument will read these essays to show it is possible for them to also become musicians.

There were three things I especially liked about this book. One was the range of bands and artists. There are acts such as Fugazi captured on one page followed by bands I hadn’t heard of like Sneaks. Second, Tricarico takes some remarkable action photos. There are moments where she captures Scream literally screaming, Ian Svenonius dancing on stage, or L7 playing what I can imagine is a powerful riff. The final thing Tricarico does in Frame of Mind is give us insight into casual and intimate moments in the D.C. scene. There are pictures of bands and their family and friends together. I especially liked Scott Weinrich of St. Vitus with his baby, Flea talking with Amy Farina of the Evens, and Fugazi goofing around on a playground in Italy.

I couldn’t help but notice there were a number of pictures of Joe Lally of Fugazi. When I looked into that I found out that Tricarico and Lally are married. I can’t help but think having that relationship enabled Tricarico to get more consistent and intimate access of Fugazi, allowing her to have photos of the band that are better than most of those in Glen E. Friedman’s Keep Your Eyes Open.

I must admit I wasn’t expecting much from this book because I had no idea who Tricarico is, but her ability to take a wide range of musicians in various experiences and both show their energy and their humanity really makes these pages shine. The additional focus on women musicians both in photos and essays makes this one a keeper. –Kurt Morris (Akashic Books, 232 Third St., Suite A115, Brooklyn, NY 11215)

Frame of Mind: Punk Photos and Essays from Washington DC, and Beyond, 1997-2017 by Antonia Tricarico, 176 pgs.

The stars aligned the last time I was in Washington D.C. Sure, the bouncers at the 9:30 Club wouldn’t let me in to buy a shirt because I was ten minutes early. But! Trophy Wife played St. Stephen’s Church while I was there. I couldn’t believe my good fortune: They’re this guitar/drums duo that consistently dazzle me with their busy, hard-hitting paradox of minimalism. I have all their albums, and got a chance to see them in Washington D.C. The entire time I was at the show I was grinning like a complete idiot, tripping out on the whole thing.

This intro, of course, is designed to demonstrate that a) I am a huge dork when it comes to the D.C. scene, and b) that a photo book about said scene is very firmly in my wheelhouse. Antonia Tricarico is a talented photographer and trains her keen eye on bands of and in the scene, both playing and candidly hanging out at birthday parties, between shows, and at pajama parties (seriously). In addition to all the photos, Tricarico includes essays by prominently featured women musicians such as Amy Farina, Alice Bag, Allison Wolfe, and Katy Otto (of the aforementioned Trophy Wife). These essayists discuss their entries into the scene, and the relevance of music in their lives. Despite my aforementioned nerdery, I don’t think I’ve seen a book which so effectively combines essays and photos to provide inspiration. Clear some space on your shelf: this one’s crucial. –Michael T. Fournier (Akashic, akashicbooks.com)

House of the Black Spot by Ben Sears, 80 pgs.

It’s hard to describe the world of Ben Sears’ Double+ stories. First, I’ll attempt to describe Sears’ style: chunky cartoonish characters that remind you of the Aardman stop motion movies à la Wallace and Gromit. I hear British accents in my head while I’m reading the dialogue in his books. There is an extremely impressive amount of detail put into the architecture and backgrounds in Sears’s comics. The lines aren’t perfectly straight but they are definitely eye candy.

Now, the Double+ stories themselves. Our main protagonist is Plus Man, an adventurer/delivery boy who always dons a helmet and goggles. He’s cool, helpful, and doesn’t put up with bullhonkey. Plus Man is accompanied by Hank, who is a floating round metal robot with arms and nothing else. The peculiar part about the robots in this universe is they are never treated as such. It’s very funny when there are references to them eating, having children, running businesses, and wearing clothes. In this wild brick and mortar, almost steampunk-ish world, Plus Man and Hank find themselves in some sort of chase or in the middle of a mystery.

In House of the Black Spot, the duo is sent out to the country home of Hank’s recently deceased uncle, Bill, for a reading of the will. And it becomes a Scooby Doo mystery from there. You got the greedy real estate moguls, the snobby son of Uncle Bill, the aloof housekeepers, and of course, the G-G-G-GHOST! The tenants are haunted by the ghost of the industrialist Frederick Wentworth. Despite it being a classic murder mystery including secret passages and red herrings, it spins a couple of Scooby Doo tropes on their head.

There are some good punk rock sensibilities in this book. Plus Man is almost like a kid in a touring band. He washes the dishes, offers to make food, is generous to his hosts, and has some pretty hilarious digs on the rich butts in the story. All without a single swear word.

This is the first Ben Sears book I have seen in full color. And he truly kills it. This is one of the most vibrant and colorful comics I have seen in a very long time. While staring and studying every detail going on in every panel, you will think you’re crying. But that’s just your eyeballs drooling. It’s a quick read that all ages will definitely enjoy. I can imagine many school kids doodling Plus Man on their book covers. –Rick V. (Koyama Press, koyamapress.com)