Michelle Cruz Gonzales – The Spitboy Rule: Tales of Xicana in a female punk band (PM Press)
Reviewed in Cubesville #20
As a female in a male-dominated punk scene, as a small town working class punk in the San Francisco hardcore scene, and as a Xicana Mexican in a predominantly white scene, the Spitboy Rule is a voice straight out of DIY punk – from a drummer in a feminist hardcore punk band, who toured in the late 1980s/early 1990s, and and an account of the role Spitboy played in her personal development.
Many 1990s DIY bands have been overshadowed by punk’s surprising commercialisation during that decade. And as Lookout Records labelmates with Green Day and scenester friends of Nirvana, Spitboy faced that mainstream/DIY argument.
As a feminist hardcore punk band, Spitboy made what would today sound like a surprising step away from the emergent Riot Grrrl movement. But Michelle recounts the band’s position with honesty – an established punk band with deep roots in the Bay Area scene.
Allegiances between band members, and Michelle describes the micro-politics of how people with very different backgrounds fitted together in a touring band.
Michelle’s writing is always succinct, hitting the nail on the head time after time in short, fast, loud chapters of this inspirational feminist punk memoir.
Various – Some of us Scream, Some of us Shout (Monkey Press), edited by Greg Bull and Mike Dines
Reviewed in Cubesville #20
This collective autobiography of writings and reprints is a piece of history in which to lose yourself. It catalogues a barely chartered era in the early-to-mid 1980s; gathering together first-hand accounts of gigs, zine interviews, Xeroxed handouts, creative writing and artwork.
The punk scene is often guilty of being so lost in the moment that looking backwards would kill its creative energies; it leaves its brave, resourceful, innovative past to be picked over by those without the desire, fight or vision to seek new means of expression.
But Some of us Scream has an infectious sense of urgency that sends a letter of hope and support to DIY punks 30 years into the future; bands practice, zines are glued together and homebrew is drunk despite a bleak backdrop of impending nuclear war, animal suffering and government brutality from Thatcher’s Conservatives.
Throughout, this 270-page collection gathers together personal tales from what we’d later call anarchopunk; Chris Butler gives a fan’s-eye view of his first Conflict gig, while Vincent Learoyd remembers Dirt’s tour supporting Crass. Anth Palmer relates being a teenage vegetarian in West Yorkshire, while Alastair Gordon recounts the birth of UK hardcore. Rudimentary Peni booklets are reprinted in their original, barely-legible glory, while Antisect fanzine interviews are presented with their original, daring honesty.
Whether you were there at the time or are fascinated by a musical and social movement that lost itself in its own moment of creation, Some of us Scream will be your bedtime reading for some time to come – and kindle our dreams of better worlds to come too.