There are some folks who keep rocking in their older age—who would bring it hard and intense—and I would find it ridiculous and almost embarrassing. But for Keith Morris, it seems entirely natural. (For the record, we’re not related.) Morris is a human sparkplug with lots of stories to share and the ability to talk a lot. Having seen video interviews, I’ve seen how Morris can ramble and go off on tangents. Thankfully that isn’t the case with My Damage. I have no doubt that seasoned writer (and Razorcake columnist) Jim Ruland helped a great deal with having My Damage read as well as it does.
Morris starts at the beginning—life in Southern California and his family. It all follows a pretty typical memoir path, but it’s the things not directly said that come out most fiercely. Morris’s relationship with his father (from trying to understand his dad’s rough lifestyle to working with him at his bait and tackle shop) are an undercurrent in the book. It’s clear he’s a key figure in making Morris who he is. Morris’s dad is the only family member who gets much page time in the book.
From the start, Morris admits that some of his details of occurrences are fuzzy, primarily because of the copious amount of drugs and booze (or “adult beverages” as he likes to call them) he put in his system. That doesn’t cause these stories to be any less interesting. It also explains why there are some large gaps between incidents. Or it could just be that those portions of his life weren’t as interesting to hear about.
That said, it was occasionally difficult to put an anecdote in time. How old was Morris when X or Y occurred? What year was it? That wasn’t always easy to determine. Another critique (albeit slight) is the excessive amount of names dropped throughout these pages. It was difficult to remember everyone, who was who, and how they related to one another. It doesn’t help that Morris often likes to throw in random facts about a friend’s sister who dated some drummer in an important band (or something like that). Then again, that’s Morris for you. I can’t imagine him being any other way.
These are minor quibbles and don’t detract from the overall strength of the book. Keith Morris is an important person in the history of L.A. punk rock and it’s good to have his side of things heard (such as issues in Black Flag and Circle Jerks). It also helped fill in the gaps as to what Morris was doing during the periods of time when his bands weren’t putting out albums. After going through addictions to drugs and adult beverages, and his struggles with diabetes, it’s encouraging to see someone survive and emerge with his latest project, OFF!. Keith’s a survivor and his story is engaging, entertaining, and ultimately uplifting. –Kurt Morris (Da Capo, 44 Farnsworth St, Third Floor, Boston, MA 02110)