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Donna Santisi's 1978 photo book, Ask the Angels (named after the early Patti Smith song), was one of the first collections to document the L.A. punk explosion, and it's finally been reissued, in an expanded format, after being an out-of-print collectors item for much of the past three decades. While some of its classic images have been reprinted elsewhere (most notably in Brendan Mullen and Roger Gastman's 2007 book, Live at the Masque), it's wonderful to finally have them all back in one place. Former Slash and Creem photographer Santisi captured quintessential early-punk icons in all of their tattered-and-ripped glory, including the Screamers, the Runaways, the Bags, X, the Ramones, Blondie, the Go-Go's, the Dickies and Television, but she also had the prescience (and presence of mind) to snap era-defining shots of such cool, underrated power-pop and new-wave performers as the Zippers, the Quick, the Last, the Textones and Holly Vincent. Ask the Angels tells a fascinatingly sordid tale through photos instead of words, but there are occasional insightful caption quotes from the Cramps' Kid Congo, the Mumps' Kristian Hoffman and scene-queen Trudie Arguelles, who summarizes the rebellious yet innocent mood of the late '70s, "There is something to be said for being taken for granted, a certain freedom to create what isn't for sale."
Thu., Aug. 12, 7 p.m., 2010

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