punk

“It’s All About Shocking People”: Penelope Spheeris on Her Iconic Film ‘The Decline of Western Civilization’ and Punk in 2015

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“It’s my life’s work, here. I don’t want to fuck it up,” director Penelope Spheeris tells me by phone about Shout Factory’s Decline of Western Civilization Collection, released on June 30. We’re joined by her daughter Anna Fox, who helped produce the deluxe box set, which includes all three Decline documentaries restored in high-definition. But the retouched celluloid can’t destroy the grit and grime that clings to Spheeris’ curious lens as it chronicles some of punk’s most legendary bands in the first film (which screens in New York City on June 19 at BAMcinemaFest with the director in attendance): Black Flag, Fear, X, the Germs, and the Circle Jerks, to name a few. Throughout the trilogy, Spheeris is granted access to ratty clubs and gutter haunts, an outsider looking in. But the filmmaker knows what it’s like on the other side, having spent her formative years in a traveling carnival where her parents worked — strangers in strange lands. We discussed living on the fringe; the filmmaker’s 1983 film about teenage runaways, Suburbia; and the meaning of family.
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Flavorwire Premiere: Purple’s “Beach Buddy” Is Your Perfect Punk Summer Jam

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Party punks with a feminist streak, Purple proudly hail from east Texas — Beaumont, an oil town, to be exact. But you wouldn’t know it based on “Beach Buddy,” one of the highlights off 409, their recently released debut album. The infectious summer anthem, which sounds like The Strokes if they pulled a Ramones and hit up Rockaway Beach, finds drummer and primary vocalist Hanna Brewer trading sweet and sour harmonies with guitarist Taylor Busby over their sandy philandering.
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Beautiful Paintings That Explore the Paradox of Recapturing Punk

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There’s no dearth of imagery documenting the rise of punk in the ’70s and its commercial peak in the ’80s. Look in any Hot Topic and you’ll be reminded of just how abundant but thoroughly vacated the aesthetic has become, and how the very “man” it critiqued ended up turning politicized DIY into an overpriced instant-identity that pairs best with Dippin’ Dots. Yet Kelsey Henderson’s paintings (spotted on Booooooom) depicting punk’s aesthetics — head-shaving, spikily bejewling, a rejection of formalism and virtuosity — seem wholly fresh. They draw attention to the paradoxes of painting the punk scene, noting both a painting “problem” and a punk “problem” — and paying tender homage to both through the illogic of it.
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‘Salad Days’ Is the Documentary That Will Make the Mainstream Understand DC Hardcore

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If there was ever a testament to punk as an evolving document, forever building on its past, it was the Washington, DC hardcore scene and the growing pains its experienced in the mid-’80s. Nothing makes that more clear than Scott Crawford and Jim Saah’s exhaustive new documentary Salad Days, which premiered late last year in DC and makes its New York premiere this week at the IFC Center. Though Crawford’s personal history with DC punk began when he was the preteen writer of MetroZine, his documentary is more for the hardcore novice — the person who recognizes the significance of the DC hardcore scene but couldn’t name more than a few Dischord bands.
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How to Celebrate Riot Grrrl Day: A Primer

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Yesterday, Boston mayor Marty Walsh declared that today (April 9) would be Riot Grrrl Day throughout the city, in honor of feminist punk icon Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill, Le Tigre, The Julie Ruin). A proclamation signed by Walsh reads, in part: “The Riot Grrrl philosophy has never felt more relevant, with misogyny still rampant in many cultural spaces… Riot Grrrls redefine the language used against them and continue to fight the newest incarnations of patriarchy. In doing so, they ironically confirm one ex-congressman’s accidental wisdom: ‘the female body has ways to try to shut that down.’ It sure does: women’s voices telling their stories can shut that down.”
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Intimate Portraits of ’90s New York City Squatters

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During her time as an art student in 1992, Ash Thayer was kicked out of her Brooklyn apartment and found herself living in the See Skwat on New York City’s Lower East Side. Thayer photographed her fellow squatters as they lived and worked to make the community more habitable, learning about demo, electrical work, and more in order to build a home. The images are now part of the fascinating book Kill City: Lower East Side Squatters 1992-2000, the “true untold story of New York’s legendary LES …Read More

The Surprisingly Diverse History of Skinhead Culture, in All Its Controversial Forms

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“You don’t have, like, Coldplay claiming they were skinheads,” tireless punk archivist, curator, and artist Toby Mott explains, “but everyone says they were punk. Everyone. Bono, whoever. Punk was very fashionable — and huge. That’s what’s intriguing about it.”

By the looks of Mott’s new book, skinhead culture is just as intriguing, albeit for different reasons. Released last December, Ditto Press and The Mott Collection’s Skinhead: An Archive explores the sociopolitical ideologies that made England’s skinhead subculture polarizing even internally.
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Rare Photos of the New York City Punk Scene in the ’70s and ’80s

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The progenitors of punk probably never imagined themselves in photographs that would be selling at art auctions, but the New York City scene during the ‘70s and ’80s continues to prove irresistible. Allan Tannenbaum’s rare “punk portfolio” is up for auction — and the kind folks at artnet Auctions gave us a preview of the images. From 1973 to ’82, Tannenbaum was SoHo Weekly News’ chief photographer and photo editor, covering art, music, and political happenings, capturing New York City nightlife at underground clubs like the Mudd Club, CBGB, and Max’s Kansas City. All the familiar players are featured in Tannenbaum’s set, including a very sweaty Iggy Pop, Sid Vicious being dragged off by the police, and a chic Debbie …Read More