Deb Frazin Photo Column—Jagged Baptist Club

Jagged Baptist Club released a remarkable album last summer and they’ve been playing a lot of shows around Los Angeles lately.

Daisy Noemi Photo Column—Fucked Forever

Fucked Forever gets the crowd amped for The Tissues record release party at Zebulon with their fast riffs and pit serenades.

Webcomic Wednesdays #417 by Rick V. – “Stickers Don’t Usually Come from Sweatshops”

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One Punk’s Guide to a Vegan Diet by Todd Taylor

Todd Taylor is the co-founder and executive director of Razorcake. Over ten years ago, he was diagnosed with high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Instead of taking pills, the self-professed “cheap bastard and hungry person” went on a long health journey and found a way to eat responsibly and cheaply.

Deb Frazin Photo Column—Cat Scan

Have you heard Cat Scan’s stunning debut album yet? Listen to In Nature, and you’ll see why they made my Top 10 Favorite Records of 2019 list.

Chris Boarts Larson Photo Column—Deathreat at Chaos in Texas 2005

Here’s a photo of Deathreat from one of the Emo’s main stage shows. Cheers to some of my all-time favorite dudes and one of their many bands!

Bill Direen: A Memory of Others: DVD

Two types of music documentary are becoming very formulaic. One is the obligatory doc about a seminal band with a boring origin story. The second is a documentary about how mainstream success has eluded some artist. In A Memory of Others, director Simon Ogston dodges the typical pitfalls of the latter while still exposing the enigmatic career of Bill Direen to a larger audience. Ogston breaks from convention, not by dramatically categorizing the ups and downs of Direen’s career in a conventional timeline, but instead choosing to showcase Direen’s phases based on the flow of their discussions.

Direen is New Zealand’s punk-Shakespeare, similar to John Cooper Clarke or Jim Carroll. He’s played in punk bands, written poetry, and done experimental theater. Direen is a humble optimist with rough charisma. Ogston follows Direen on a recent tour of coffee houses, art spaces, and small bars in New Zealand. Direen makes music, gives talks, and reads poetry in front of small gatherings of enthusiastic fans, all the while gently proselytizing about what it means to be an artist through discussions about his career.

Ogston takes a refreshing turn by utilizing few talking head interviews and their footage of the New Zealand landscape is masterful. The only frustration with the film comes with the decision to tell the story out of order. There is no cataloguing of bands’ eras, more or less. As the film unfolds, it makes sense in congress with Direen’s attitude towards art. The film paints a portrait of an interesting artist and a nice guy who is relatively happy with what his compulsion to create has brought him in life. He’s an inspiring man and the film does Direen’s attitude justice. –Billups Allen (Self-released)

GG Allin—All in the Family: DVD

As a new age of barbarism is dawning across America, it seems like a good time to drop in on everyone’s favorite punk rock barbarian, GG Allin. And though the new documentary GG Allin: All in the Family gives no indication of GG’s possible political leanings—a true anarcho-primitivist nihilist is not easily plotted on the conventional left/right political spectrum—it’s intriguing to speculate if GG could be claimed by the barbarians of the Alt Right now that they’ve asserted republicanism as “the new punk rock.” His mongoloid misogynism is guaranteed to set off a million #MeToo alarms and not even the most primped and pumped-up Proud Boy could touch him in raw yobbish political incorrectness. “GG Allin, Conservative Icon” may sound absurd at first, but is anything really absurd anymore in the socio-political realm?

Unlike Todd Phillip’s 1993 GG documentary Hated, where the Allin family was a mere footnote to Kevin Allin’s Rock’n’roll Terrorist act, what’s front and center here is, as the punny title states: ALLIN, the family. That would be brother Merle, GG’s mom Arleta and, to a lesser extant, the damaged drummer Dino Sex. Each is shown going about their post-GG life, each dealing with their grief with their own reconstructive narratives, as the psychologists say. It would be oversimplified, but it could be crudely said that the spirit of Kevin primarily lives on through the filtered memories of Arleta, while the spirit of GG primarily lives on through the filtered memories of Merle. Each has chosen their own ghost to haunt them.

Merle, for example, basically lives in a GG shrine which doubles as a GG Allin merchandise warehouse. And incidentally, Merle is in the privileged position, solely because of his infamous brother, of being able to profit from scooping his own mushy grunt-pie out of the toilet, brushing it onto a canvas and selling that canvas as an object d’art. Similar to how Donny Trump Jr. is—solely due to his relationship to the pear-shaped plutocrat currently infesting the White House—able to scoop the brain turds from his own cranial cavity, compress them into book form, and profit from it. Fame and infamy are funny things.

No concrete answers are given to the question of what caused Kevin to transmogrify into GG. That mystery is left hanging like a pair of besmirched underpants on Arleta’s clothesline. But disturbing hints are dropped about Merle Sr., GG and Merle’s father, who looms over this film like a twisted specter and who only peeks out of the interstices of the storyline briefly. One can only guess what sort of “Daddy-Dearest” secrets disappeared with that kook.

If TV execs are paying attention: this fascinating, almost Dadaistic showcase of the Allin family should be fleshed out into a TV series, one that would make The Osbournes look like Leave It to Beaver. And then maybe Merle, Arleta, and Dino can be the new Reality TV family to finally dislodge our embarrassing national fixation on the Kardashians. I think that would make GG proud. –Aphid Peewit (MVD visual, MVDvisual.com)

Cannabis: The Illegalization of Weed in America By Box Brown, 244 pgs.

We can mostly agree that anybody pulling chain over marijuana possession is complete garbage. Even us who don’t partake in the ganja can back that sentiment. Cannabis: The Illegalization of Weed in America is a graphic novel that focuses on the impact of marijuana in the first half of the nineteenth century.

For those who are unhip, Box Brown is an illustrator/cartoonist from Philadelphia, Pa. His most notable works are historical biographies about Andre the Giant, Andy Kaufman’s wrestling career, and Tetris. This time around, Brown takes on what led marijuana to be hated by the government and celebrated by the people.

We go from the earliest known use of marijuana in India where it was mixed in with yogurt and fruit and made into a drink. Then onto the 1930s where Harry J. Anslinger, the founding commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, fought to make weed illegal. Anslinger tried as many scare tactics as he could to convince the higher-ups that marijuana was extremely dangerous and lethal. Most of his scare tactics poked racists’ nerves in order to rile them up. Anslinger fabricated incidents that involved minorities kidnapping white people and forcing them to use the weedpot, usually turning them into dope fiends and serial killers. Brown illustrates these beautifully.

Box Brown’s style of drawing simple characters with very straight and neat backgrounds is very appealing. He has a very unique style and you could spot a Box Brown illustration with a glance from ten to fifteen miles away. In this book, Box does little things like let a character’s ear extend outside of a panel line. And that for some reason brings me great joy.

It’s an easy read that flows great and will turn the suburban-ist of moms into an organizer of a cannabis reform group. Who am I kidding? Most suburban moms get high every day. –Rick V. (First Second, firstsecondbooks.com)

Come Again By Nate Powell, 272 pgs.

It’s 1979 and Haluska lives in a back-to-the-land community in the hills of Arkansas with her child. She doesn’t mind it, but she doesn’t appear to love it either. The only escape she has is an affair with her friend Adrian, a man in a monogamous relationship with Haluska’s other friend Whitney. The only place they can feel alone to get their thing on is in a cave with a tiny hobbit door that Haluska uncovered years before.

Things get weird when Adrian’s son Shane uncovers the cave and disappears. It gets weirder when the hobbit door disappears and Haluska seems to be the only person on the commune who remembers who Shane even is.

As usual, the graphic novel is beautifully illustrated by Nate Powell’s signature brush style. This book is very dark and I mean that very literally. Lots of solid black on many of the pages, especially within the caves. It is pretty effective. You are engulfed in darkness. The way Nate does word balloons is very unique too. You’ll never see a more artistically done two-word sentence.

I felt that Nate Powell thrives on collaborative works where he illustrates other authors’ stories, like the March series with John Lewis and Andrew Aydin. But Come Again is a solo book by Nate and his best work yet. It’s a slow burn with the last fifty pages keeping your eyes glued to it with your butt glued to the edge of your couch. –Rick V. (Top Shelf Comix, topshelfcomix.com)