Rock Reads: We Were Going to Change the World: Interviews with Women from the 1970s & 1980s Southern California Punk Rock Scene by Stacy Russo
Reviewed by Kevin Wierzbicki
Despite the inclusion of the word "interviews" in this book's subtitle, Russo has wisely excised her questions here so each subject's contribution is presented instead in essay form, and that keeps the reader's attention fully focused on what the women reminiscing about their punk era experiences have to say. And although some of the chapters are relatively short and none are overly long, there is plenty said as Russo presents insights from a wide cross section of those who were there, including musicians like Exene Cervenka of X and folkie Phranc along with those working in the photography, radio or print mediums, and those who were "just" fans like Cate Garcia. All tell how they first got into the scene; for Garcia it was going to the vaunted Los Angeles venue the Whisky a Go Go where she saw all female band the Go-Go's before they hit it big, noting that Belinda Carlisle was at the time fully into being a punk badass, including spitting at the crowd. Other women had a bit of an inside track on the scene; D.D. Wood (nee Grisham) for example moved easily in punk circles thanks to the fact that she is the little sister of Jack Grisham of T.S.O.L. fame. But whether it's Phranc telling about how she got her stage name or fan Heather L. Griffin chronicling how she got into punk via Stiff Little Fingers and Minor Threat at age 11, this is not really the point of the book. The idea here is to show how each of these women used their experience to empower their later lives. Each chapter ends with a bit about what these successful women are now, some after overcoming the dark, drug-fueled and often violent days of the long gone early punk scene. Russo is to be commended for crafting a very entertaining and equally inspiring read here. Mike Watt pens the book's introduction.
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