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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

All those punk rock movies

Here is a punk rock veteran. Dave Parsons of Sham 69, the band that bridged regular old punk with the Oi and British hardcore off-shoots. A lads band before we really wanted to make that a niche or label. And Dave has the distinction of having been in a band with Stiv Bators, Ohio's crown prince of punk and a true pioneer. Dave still plays with Sham 69 - and this photo was taken while the band were in NYC to play the CBGB series of benefit shows in August 2005.

just as Dave has never stopped playing punk rock, neither have people documenting it. So what's going on now with punk rock as a topic for movies is not exactly a start or one of those "its about time" moments where the floodgates opened with that documentary "End of the Century" about the Ramones...back in the day, Penelope Spheeris was shooting bands and making The Decline of Western Civilization documentaries. And there was Urgh, A Music War that if I am not mistaken, was made at the behest of the Copeland empire - or at least it appeared that way, as it featured the IRS Records roster and the Police prominently. But not to worry - bands in the US and the UK were represented.

These days, though, with the advent of digital video cameras, non-linear editing and pro-sumer products, there is hardly a barrier to entry into the world of making moving pictures. As someone who's done this most of her life, I have mixed feelings about it - but that's a whole other story.

Over the holidays, I finally watched Punk Attitude, the Don Letts documentary that gave short shrift to California, although the DVD set came with an extra disk all about LA punk. Hmm. There are two movies being made about the Germs. One is a narrative, the other a documentary. I think you already know how I feel about an actor portraying Darby and then going on to impersonate him in real life on stages... The documentary is based on Brendan Mullen's book, Lexicon Devil. There's another documentary being made called "Punk's Not Dead." That's right. I guess you do have to overstate the obvious. It concentrates on contemporary bands. I don't know about you, and I do disagree with my life long friend Gary Stewart about Green Day - but it ain't punk to me. Green Day, that is.

There was a pretty good documentary about the Minutemen titled after Mike Watt's motto: "We Jam Econo."

There is in production right now, a documentary about the life of Jeffrey Lee Pierce, made with the cooperation of his family. "Go Tell The Mountain" features interviews with people who were there and watched Jeff hatch his musical plans - Kid Congo, Pleasant and members of the Gun Club like Terry Graham, who I had the pleasure of spending a little time with while I was in LA.

Disclaimer disclaimer: I've provided photos for the Germs and the Jeffrey Lee Pierce documentaries and I told my stories too.

I've seen some interesting things bubbling under. Last year, while I was doing my normal summer gig of reviewing submissions to PBS's documentary series, POV, I saw a submission about Carlos Guitarlos.

Has anyone started to tell the CBGB story? Or did the Amos Poe-Ivan Kral vehicle from the early 70s take care of that already?

What's particularly great right now is that there are plenty of live music performances from the punk days. There's the excellent Dead Boys DVD, and the whole Target Video series such as Dead Kennedys, Screamers, Devo, Cramps and many other bands they shot - all becoming available on DVD for your home viewing pleasure. That would be Target Video, the cool San Francisco group of video/film/comics/graphics/art people and NOT the red and white shopping chain.

I would however, LOVE to be able to buy this all at the Target chain store. We are so mainstream now, aren't we?

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