SCAM #9: $3, 4 ¼” x 5 ½”, photocopied, 56 pgs.

Thirty-plus years since its initial release, the influence of Black Flag’s first album, Damaged, continues to send ripples of influence throughout the music world. Oddly enough, or more likely as per usual, the thirtieth anniversary of its release largely went unnoticed by the music world, which was too busy at the time fawning over the twentieth anniversary of Nirvana’s Nevermind and trying in vain to shove a stillborn grunge “revival” down the throat of American culture. To their credit, the L.A. Weekly tapped writer Erick Lyle to pen a history of the making of Damaged, and he set about interviewing as many of those involved with the band and the recording of the album as possible. According to the introduction to this zine, however, the local rag didn’t have enough space available to accommodate the finished product, so he instead published it here, in his own zine, and kudos for him for doing so. Here is not only the story of Black Flag and the recording of one of the most important albums in punk rock’s history, but also the backdrop within which the band lived and drew inspiration for the songs—the birth of L.A. punk, the rise of beach-thug “HB” culture and hardcore, the band in all its complicated brilliance, the endless cycle of police harassment of both band and scene (I’ve said it before, but as someone who remembers from experience, it cannot be stressed enough how truly oppressive, fucked up, and hostile police were to punk in the 1980s), the hostility some key members of the band experienced within the scene, the riots, the makeshift living conditions in which the band existed, the violence, and all the shit the older generation remembers with a shudder and the younger generation romanticizes. The story ends with the band’s dissolution and leaves the reader ultimately wondering if a similar moment in time can again gel from a modern underground that is often ripped from its roots by media conglomerates playing on artists’ need to eat, and populated by a generation more obsessed with documenting events with the video apps on their cell phones than actually experiencing them. Lyle’s writing style is concise—he jam-packs into a half-size zine what others have failed to do in entire books—and is reverent without coming off as fanboy geekdom, recounting the story in a way that puts the reader right in the middle of all the drama as it unfolds and eventually comes crashing down. –Jimmy Alvarado (Scam Zine, 1011 Bedford #3, Brooklyn, NY 11205)