Book Review: We Got Power

Up until now, most punk rock coffee table tomes have focused on the “first generation” of 70s Los Angeles punk, the skinny artists who followed the Weirdos and the Screamers, and whose drug of choice was heroin. There was a “second generation” of punk rock in the early 80s with kids from the suburbs who listened to Black Flag and the Circle Jerks, and whose drug of choice was speed. These kids, as author Dave Markey puts it, were more likely “…suburban skate kids out to fuck shit up.” This second generation is known as hardcore. With We Got Power an indepth illustration of what it meant to be hardcore has finally hit the presses.

Dave Markey and Jordan Schwartz were teenage kids in Santa Monica who met by happenstance, a lucky break for us all. From this meeting flowed a font of creativity, including film, music, photography, and writing during a time when everything was DIY. We Got Power focuses on the writing and photography that filled their fanzine of the same name.

The book is filled with gorgeous photographs, many by Jordan Schwartz, as well as photos by Jennifer Schwartz, Dave Markey and Ed Colver, back in the days when you had to actually focus your own camera. The chiaroscuro of the black and white pictures is museum-worthy.

The photographs are interspersed with firsthand stories not only by the people who made the We Got Power fanzine, but the people who made hardcore — Keith Morris, Henry Rollins, Chuck Dukowski, Dez Cadena, Mike Watt, and countless others. Their stories are thoughtful, profound, and witty. One particularly hilarious tale is that of drummer/bassist Janet Housden.

Of course you can’t publish a book about a fanzine without including pages of original content. The back of the book is dedicated to all of the original fanzines, including a never-before-seen volume. It is definitely a step back in time for those of us who thrived on fanzines.

We Got Power is not only a nostalgic trip through the past for those who lived it, but an anthropological case study of a lesser-known subculture, and quite simply, a work of art.

 Order your copy today!

Track 16 Gallery is pleased to present the exhibition and installation, WE GOT P0WER!: We Survived the Pit, celebrating the release of the book “WE GOT P0WER! Hardcore Punk Scenes From 1980s Southern California” By David Markey & Jordan Schwartz [Bazillion Points Books, 2012]. The exhibition runs from September 8 to October 6, 2012 with an opening reception on Saturday, September 8 from 6 to 11 PM, featuring live music by Adolescents, Saccharine Trust, The Last, White Flag & Dead Issue (Bands @ 8pm.) 

Elise Thompson

About Elise Thompson

Born and raised in the great city of Los Angeles, this food, culture and music-loving punk rock angeleno wants to turn you on to all that is funky, delicious and weird in the city. While Elise holds down the fort, her adventurous alter ego Kiki Maraschino is known to roam the country in search of catfish.
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