Briefly Noted: Suburban Punks Rule


In Kids of the Black Hole (University of Oklahoma), William Paterson University historian Dewar MacLeod provides a nearly day-by-day account of the rise of punk style, attitude, and music in Southern California from 1977 through the early '80s, charting the degradation/purification of the original punk sound into the brutal and violent music known as "hardcore," driven mainly by bored suburban kids, not arty urbanites

Despite some stale rehashed riffs from Theodor Adorno and Mike Davis, the book is fascinating when it talks directly about what punks said and did. MacLeod drifts far in his attempts at theorizing, which makes sense: No one sociological or historical theory can explain the sudden emergence of a variegated subculture. (And one big explanation is just that young men feeling free from rules will do some crazy shit.) But MacLeod's best summation is that "punks attempted to become producers instead of consumers, combining romantic and individualist ideas with a do-it-yourself anarchism." —Brian Doherty