An American Demon: A Memoir
Rock & roll bookends
Reviewed by Marc Savlov, Fri., July 15, 2011
An American Demon: A Memoirby Jack Grisham
ECW Press, 360 pp., $19.95 (paper)
Jack Grisham, legendary bad boy and malefic ringleader of seminal Los Angeles punk outfit TSOL, cops from Dostoyevsky's Notes From the Underground, touting himself as a sick manchild, relishing his nihilistic amorality, which, he explains, was not due to bad parenting (although there was that) or ingesting heroic amounts of illicit substances (ditto). No, Grisham was an actual demon, and being incarnated within the gooshy confines of a bipedal flesh-vessel bummed this hardcore dybbuk way the fuck out. His lurid, compulsively readable story is chock-full o' forked tongue-in-cheek tales of juvenile mayhem, teenage defloration, and a sideways recounting of the early 1980s hardcore punk scene. His eventual redemption left this particularly ancient soul with his wit and no small amount of hard-won wisdom intact. Anyone looking for the history of those True Sounds of Liberty – their meteoric rise, the Los Angeles Police Department riots, their eventual fall from grace as a late 1980s hair band and stunning millennial reformation – should look elsewhere. This is Grisham's godforsaken story straight up, by turns deeply disturbing and death-dark, but leavened with no small amount of damnable humor. All play and no work made Jack anything but a dull boy, and An American Demon is proof positive that the evil men do make for hellishly fun reading.