Kids of the Black Hole Punk Rock in Postsuburban California

Article excerpt

Kids of the Black Hole Punk Rock in Postsuburban California Dewar MacLeod. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2010.

Much has been written about punk rock within the context of the UK scene, so much so, that the entire movement has been distilled into one blinding image of the Sex Pistols - Sid Vicious with his Mohawk and leather and Johnny Rotten in his Union Jack tee and piercings. In comparison, relatively little has been written about the New York scene, let alone the numerous local scenes that happened in the United Kingdom, United States and Australia. Gradually more information is coming to light as the people who were there begin to record and archive their collective memories. Enter Dewar MacLeod with his highly personal, ethnographic portrayal of the birth of punk in Los Angeles.

The late 1970s in America saw the rise of suburbia, youth culture and the leisure class. At the time, these changes seemed to happen quickly, while in hindsight they were perhaps a natural progression of the social constructs that came before. Like many urban centers, LA was surrounded by heavily populated suburbs; however, LA had one major difference: it was home to the international music business. The combination of suburban youth with lots of leisure time and money with a rich and vibrant music scene led to the So Cal punk movement that really came to the fore in the mid to late 1980s with the advent of the hardcore scene, Henry Rollins and Black Flag.

The history of punk in LA mirrors the rise of the movement elsewhere in the United Kingdom, United States and Australia, beginning with influences from both the London and New York scenes. A myriad of musical styles was accepted from artistic expression, to performance, to fast, stripped-down rock. …