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You Can't Keep an Old Punk Down 

Thursday, Oct 11 2012
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Few of the punk rockers who were around during the early days of the Hollywood scene remained unchanged by the inexorable confluence of cultural and sexual frustrations that spontaneously erupted in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Some people lost their minds, and more than a few lost their lives, while the rest spent much of the following decades trying to find healthful ways to safely recapture, or at least approximate, the white-hot intensity and euphoric rush of creativity from punk's seemingly endless party. Iris Berry and A. Razor emerged from the chaos, if not exactly unscathed, with something better than scars; they each have new memoirs on their new imprint, Punk Hostage Press, that blend poetic insight with baleful punk prose. In his latest collection, Better Than a Gun in a Knife Fight, the aptly named Razor sets the scene with era-specific odes to Oki Dogs and Farrah Fawcett, curtly summarizing the culture clash between punk and classic rock (“Darby Crash/loses his headline/to John Lennon/more people will pretend/Hollywood is London”) while still retaining an air of poetic grace when he "portrays the blood and sinew of human upheavals and desires" and observes that "our hearts collect satellites that circle." Meanwhile, in her new book, The Daughters of Bastards, Berry pulls you in with such intriguing opening lines as "I knew taking a cab to make a drug run was a bad idea, but we had no other choice," and "Anything that was worth doing happened after midnight." The Pacoima native somehow always keeps a cool head, even when the cops keep raiding her home ("looking for my dad, one of my brothers and eventually me") or when she gets hooked on heroin ("we slipped into a velvet nod, with the smell of sulfur, burnt spoons, cigarette smoke and night-blooming jasmine in the air"). Berry's longtime collaborator in the Ringling Sisters, Pleasant Gehman, hosts the reading and previews Lady Don't Be Panic, her upcoming book on Punk Hostage Press. Stories Books, 1716 Sunset Blvd., Echo Park; Sun., Oct. 14, 5 p.m.; free. (213) 413-3733.
Sun., Oct. 14, 5 p.m., 2012
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