MDC: Memoir from a Damaged Civilization By Dave Dictor

MDC—Millions Of Dead Cops, Metal Devil Cokes, Missile Destroyed Civilization, and many others—are one of those “Punk 101” bands the average punter these days will likely get around to once they’ve made the commitment to investigate this punk thang a little further than whatever their entry-level band was. They are also a great “foundation” band for such folks ‘cause, truth be told, those entering from the more popular routes these days are likely coming in with no idea whatsoever of punk’s long-standing history as a viable form of dissent, political action, and source for obfuscated information.

I speak from personal experience. I picked up MDC’s Multi-Death Corporations EP in 1983 with its horrifying images and detailed information about what the American military were doing to predominantly indigenous people during El Salvador’s then-happening civil war at the behest of U.S.-based corporate interests. For me, it opened a world of political thought and news that was—like today—all but absent in the mainstream media.

Courtesy of bands like MDC, music became not just a passive way to pass the time, but a tool to sandblast off the shiny veneer of bullshit we’re fed daily. Music as a weapon to speak the truth—loud and clear—to power.

As inferred in the title, vocalist Dave Dictor recounts his, and his band’s, history here. The book tells his beginnings—the familial and formative experiences that influenced his worldview. Me moves from New York to Austin, Texas, where he quickly became involved with Austin’s storied punk scene. The band forms. Assorted band-related and personal experiences happen, including run-ins with police and hassles caused by the best-known Millions Of Dead Cops iteration of the band’s name. Health and drug-related issues rear up. Dave becomes a teacher. Ultimately, he finds his center. His prose is simple and conversational. Overall, the book is a quick read despite recounting one of punk rock’s more storied lives.

Some may wish for more introspection into why he and the band were motivated to a more caustic lyrical and musical end of punk and why he’s remained entrenched in the scene (particularly the do-it-yourself part of it) as long as he has. Yet, I think there’s enough here to whet the appetite of the average fan. This book serves as an example of how living a life in open revolt to the status quo remains possible—even in an era when corporations have a stranglehold on pretty much all aspects of our waking lives. –Jimmy Alvarado (Manic D Press, PO Box 410804, SF, CA 94141)