Sells like Teen Spirit: Music, Youth Culture, and Social Crisis

By Ryan Moore | Go to book overview

1
Anarchy in the USA

Whenever governments have imposed sweeping free-market pro-
grams, the all-at-once shock treatment, or “shock therapy,” has
been the weapon of choice.

—Naomi Klein1

Gimme gimme shock treatment.

—The Ramones, “Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment”

New York City, 1975: The events that would later be heralded as the origins of punk were taking shape. During the previous year, the band Television had begun performing regularly at a music club buried in the depths of the Bowery, CBGB's. Television's gigs were soon paired with the Patti Smith Group, and both bands found an audience among New York's art rock crowd. Meanwhile, four self-styled hooligans from Queens had also formed a band and named themselves the Ramones; by 1975 their performances at CBGB's—renowned for their ferociousness and brevity—had garnered considerable attention and a recording contract with Sire Records. With their leather jackets, mop haircuts, and streetwise personas, the Ramones' depiction of juvenile delinquency was balanced by a cartoonish sense of humor, enabling them to personify an emerging punk sensibility of minimalism and postmodern irony.

Before the end of 1975, two local writers had christened the burgeoning New York scene with the publication of a fanzine called Punk. For Legs McNeil, one of the magazine's cofounders, the term “punk” was used because it “seemed to sum up the thread that connected everything we liked—drunk, obnoxious, smart but not pretentious, absurd, funny, ironic, and things that appealed to the darker side.”2 In 1975, the New York scene comprised an extraordinarily eclectic cohort of musicians—including the

-1-

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Sells like Teen Spirit: Music, Youth Culture, and Social Crisis
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • 1: Anarchy in the Usa 1
  • 2: Reagan Youth 33
  • 3: Hell Awaits 75
  • 4: Young, Gifted, and Slack 114
  • 5: Retro Punks and Pin-Up Girls 156
  • 6: The Work of Rock in the Age of Digital Reproduction 197
  • Notes 219
  • Bibliography 245
  • Index 265
  • About the Author 275
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