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Gimme Something Better: The Profound, Progressive, and Occasionally Pointless History of Bay Area Punk From Dead Kennedys to Green Day

Jack Boulware

Reviewed by Marc Savlov, Fri., Dec. 4, 2009

Gimme Something Better: The Profound, Progressive, and Occasionally Pointless History of Bay Area Punk From Dead Kennedys to Green Day

by Jack Boulware & Silke Tudor
Penguin, 490 pp., $18 (paper)

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. It was punk as fuck. Tackling the gleefully vicious, calculatedly anti-social, and utterly wonderful history of punk rock's most fertile egg chamber outside the UK is a fool's errand akin to picking daisies for Danzig's pet baby unicorn on Easter Sunday. Sayeth Ian MacKaye, "Think again." Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain nailed the whole New Yawk punk rawk squawk with their essential CGBG's flashback-a-thon Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk, Marc Spitz and Brendan Mullen recounted Southern California's 15 minutes of Weird(os) in We Got the Neutron Bomb: The Untold Story of L.A. Punk, and now, against all odds, Jack Boulware and Silke Tudor have gone and one-upped both of those indispensable oral histories with this endlessly fascinating and frankly addictive masterpiece of safety-pin journalism. Of key note here is the Texas/SF cross-country tweakshow that included the likes of DRI, Tales of Terror, girlfriend-killing Fang-frontman Sam "Sammytown" McBride, and the (ever infamous) SF/SoCo skin Marc Dagger. Apart from chords and kick-drums, the good old days were actually pretty bad, it turns out, although Berkeley's 924 Gilman St. ultimately returned the blood from fists to fret boards, where it belonged. Among other notable decedents was scene cop and Maximumrocknroll founder Tim Yohannan, who artfully managed to sick up lymphoma in 1998, thereby allowing him to exit prior to the colossal embarrassment that is Hot Topic. To quote the late Will Shatter: "Isn't life a blast? It's just like living in the past." Hey, man, whatever gets you through the Vats.

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