UNDER THE BIG BLACK SUN: A PERSONAL HISTORY OF L.A. PUNK
John Doe with Tom DeSavia and friends
First things first: John Doe is by no means the main author of this book. Founder and bassist of long-serving L.A. punks X (who even named their first album in the city’s honour), Doe is well placed to comment on the times, which he does with a dry, beatnik flair. But his scattered entries are slim, allowing a cast of musos, journos and other scenesters to contribute the real meat’n’potatoes. The best essays come from The Go-Gos’ Jane Wiedlin, then a wet-behind-the-ears student, enjoying this new explosion of music, drugs and sex while living in notorious punk apartment block, The Canterbury; and Mike Watt’s tale of the Minutemen, three plaid-shirted teenagers from the wrong side of the tracks. Elsewhere Robert Lopez (aka El Vez) comments from both the gay and Latino perspectives, while the Blasters’ Dave Alvin is the pragmatic rock’n’roller. A dark cloud descends with the arrival of the violent, male-dominated hardcore scene. Henry Rollins’ own view is typically that of the wide-eyed fan, but the arrogance and aggression of T.S.O.L’s Jack Grisham speaks volumes.