La Escena: DVD

It’s my belief that one of the biggest problems with the U.S. punk scene, especially in recent times, is that too few average punkers really have a handle on just how truly big this whole punk thing is. I’m not talking about album units sold and money made and all that shit, mind you, I mean just how far-reaching its message, its ethos, its philosophy of “fuck you if you say I can’t do it” and its music is. Bored with the homegrown brand of noise these days? Take a gander at what’s coming out of Sweden, Brazil, New Zealand, Peru, Israel, or even Hawaii. I guess my point is that there was/is much more going on than what MTV or your local “alternative” radio station is feeding you. But I reckon most of you reading this mag are already hip to this and have well-worn CDs by Ratos de Porao, Regulations, Abuso Sonoro, Kaaos and so on, right? Okay, I’ll stop with the ranting. One of my big interests when it comes to punk is knowing the history of not just the bands but the scenes that spawned them, and La Escena is director Guillermo Gómez Álvarez’s contribution to enlightening the world about the history behind the scene in Puerto Rico. It’s in Spanish, but the producers saw fit to include English subtitles for those of us who are Español challenged. The story is told in a straightforward, no bullshit way with interviews shot in abandoned buildings and such, the grittiness of which serves well the tale of a bunch of kids taking the barest of resources and creating a vibrant scene from the ground up, a scene that continues to spawn some quality music to this day. Despite some challenges and drawbacks—the biggest being a dearth of live (and clear) footage—this documentary manages to tell its tale and get its point across quite well without getting boring or leaving one with “what was the point to that?” bouncing around in the noggin when all is said and done. In all, this is a great way to glean a little insight to what goes on in other scenes that get precious little attention, even when they really ain’t all that far away from us. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.southkorerecords.com)