Punk Is Dead, Punk Is Everything: Raw Material from the Martyred Music Movement: By Bryan Ray Turcotte, 289 pgs. By Todd Taylor

Aug 31, 2008

Fucked Up and Photocopied is one of my favorite books on punk rock. At its core, it’s a collection of flyers. But its secret weapon—which was refreshing—was letting the artwork tell its own stories instead of a lot of blowhards yelling at today’s punks for being dickweeds. Bryan Ray Turcotte’s second offering is just as good. The focus branches out from solely flyers, to posters, pins, photos, zine covers, and artwork. The premise is simple: contact influential punks and longtimers, scan in their “punk provenance,” and, often, have them tell a little story for some context. The breadth and width is also refreshing. The pioneers are given due reverence, but the lesser-historied peace punk, no-coast bands, death rock, skate punk, thrash, and current-day hardcore bands are given some pages, too. Sure, there are bands and zines I wish were in this collection—ones that I see as obvious overlooks—but I also cherish the treat of seeing covers of Sniffing Glue and Suburban Voice and reading Biscuit from the Big Boys remembrance of when punk hit Austin. I’m also intimate with the schwangled clusterfuck of getting more than five punks to do what they’ve agreed to on any given day so they can come over and complain. So, hats off, Mr. Turcotte for wrangling together a second kickass book.

Quite possibly the most striking aspect of both of these books—beyond the source material—is the graphic design. It’s bold, inventive, and while relying on the established punk aesthetic, cranks it up really fucking high. Both books push the aesthetic it new and exciting directions, conveying a graphic message that the book embodies: this music wasn’t just great in the past; it’s great now and it’s constantly morphing. I’ll stop a hair short of coming directly into Mr. Turcotte’s eye, though, because, at points—especially like with the shot of The Cramps’ Lux Interior, or with Los Crudos playing live—it seems that the graphic designer couldn’t help themselves by superimposing graphics into the middle of a great photo, robbing them of some impact. One more quick bitch: I don’t think it’d be a bad idea to give a one to two word context to the people providing remembrances in the book. (Like what band they were in, if they were a superfan, roadie, or zinester to further indicate the wide swath of folks who’ve been suckered into this subculture.)

But, I’ll leave you with this: anyone who’s even remotely interested in punk, or even just a graphically interesting book, would love to have this in their bookshelf. It’s pretty fucking incredible. It’s a bit pricey, but the production level is super high and worth every penny. –Todd (Ginko Press, 5486 Paradise Dr., Suite J., Corte Madera, CA94925)