Clockwork Orange County, which was originally going under the fitting monikerWe Were Feared, is basically a rework of a much earlier film, Urban Struggle: The Battle of the Cuckoo’s Nest. Like its predecessor, it recounts the tale of the legendary Cuckoo’s Nest, an early ‘80s punk club nestled deep in the heart of one of the country’s most virulently reactionary counties. OC was ground zero for Southern California’s much-ballyhooed and exceedingly influential second wave of punk/first wave of hardcore, and during its relatively brief existence the Nest was one of the few clubs out that way that provided a place for that wave of bands a stage on which to cut their teeth. As a result, the club, in turn, found itself turned into ground zero for the cultural war that mainstream America waged on punk, a war that resulted in police harassment of the clubs patrons, pitched battles with denizens of the “urban cowboy” bar which shared its parking lot, and a pitched legal battle with the City of Costa Mesa over its very right to exist.
Utilizing period footage from Urban Struggle and interviews of recent vintage, the film recounts the tale in swift but holistic detail—the importance of the venue to the scene, the love/hate relationship between the punks and club owner Jerry Roach, and the shitstorm that ensued in the streets, in the courts, and in the media. It’s also filled with enough live footage of the Circle Jerks, Black Flag, Adolescents, TSOL, and so on to whet the appetite of fans, music archeologists, and historians looking solely for some great “old school” performances. Though clearly a DIY effort, with the occasional clunky transition and music cue, the filmmakers tell the tale well, deftly keeping the proceedings engaging without letting things devolve into neither a surreal pastiche of vaguely connected footage nor a rigid drone of talking heads. There are scant few attempts at historical documentation that manage to do this particular area of interest justice, and this is definitely one of ‘em. –Jimmy Alvarado (Endurance Pictures, no address listed)