Tag Archives: book review

We Are The Clash: Reagan, Thatcher, and The Last Stand Of A Band That Mattered

We Are The Clash: Reagan, Thatcher, and The Last Stand Of A Band That Mattered
Mark Andersen and Ralph Heibutzki
Akashic Books
Street: 07.03

This is a book that matters. Authors Mark Andersen and Ralph Heibutzki take the history of the turbulent political struggles of the 1980s and combine with the legendary fall of The Clash. In this historical context, We Are The Clash examines the Cold War world on the brink of nuclear holocaust, the British Miner strike with the emergence of Margret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan’s neo-liberalism (the British, free-market-oriented definition of the term) and it’s subsequent effects on lives of the members of The Clash.

Such a tale is a bold one, since We Are The Clash takes on a broad outlook on how political upheaval intervenes in the fluttering nature of pop-culture. While steeped in political history, the book draws on the intentions of the “only band that mattered” while providing several interesting analyses of why the band ultimately folded. Throughout We Are The Clash, the narrative mainly focuses on the chaotic rebuilding of The Clash without founding member Mick Jones, but with Joe Strummer (and Bernie Rhodes) firmly in the driver’s seat.

Read the full Book Review published by SLUG Magazine!!

Against Doom: A Climate Insurgency Manuel

Against Doom: A Climate Insurgency Manuel
By Jeremy Brecher
PM Press
Release: 07.2017

If humanity is to have a future, it needs a strategy to combat the threat of climate change. The threat of climate change is overwhelming and even now we are only beginning to grasp its effects on our fragile world. Before the election of President Trump, it seemed that humanity was willfully strolling its way to a climate catastrophe. Although agreements such as the Paris Climate Agreement offer loose frameworks to transition to a fossil fuel free civilization, this historic agreement falls short of a binding resolution. Admittingly, it’s a vocal show that the world is waking up to its greatest challenge, but the agreement is vague in its promise to stall the rising of world temperatures to and over 2C from pre-industrial revolution levels and certain climate catastrophe. Now, after the election, and the United States recent withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, it seems our future is on the brink of disaster. In his new book Against Doom, author Jeremy Brecher provides the outline for a strategy to move forward.

Against Doom is sort of a manifesto. It covers a wide arrange of ideas and is broken up into two sections: The first highlights a growing global insurgency against forces that seek to cause climate catastrophe. While the second outlines bold struggles to combat the threat of climate change. Brecher discusses examples of resistance that spans the world, the shortcomings of the Paris Climate Agreement and the importance of grassroots people power against the fossil fuel industry. One example Brecher highlights are the protests led by low-income, predominately African-American residents in Albany, New York, against the highly volatile “bomb trains” (fuel trains) that run through their neighborhoods. In this Brecher provides an analysis on this community’s grassroots, non-violent resistance—specifically community outreach, and mutual support and civil disobedience— toward inconveniencing the fossil fuel industry in their neighborhood.

The second section of Against Doom, Brecher proposes bold strategies to tackle climate change. This includes a fossil fuel freeze which implements a halt on all new fossil fuel infrastructures, plans to turn public opinion against the fossil fuel industry and challenging hopelessness with action. One of Brecher’s proposals is to utilize existing political forces to erode and ultimately challenge the legality of continuously using fossil fuels. He touches on an idea called the “Public Trust’—a proposal where the world, its resources and its wonders belong to humanity as a whole and not just a select few. Brecher backs this argument with examples of disobedience and legal challenges that have been won and subsequently put a check on the fossil fuel industry. Although, Brecher points out some success, he emphasizes that those wishing to conduct direct action should be prepared for the consequences—for better or worse.

In Against Doom, Brecher ties complex strategies for a just transition to a sustainable civilization that seeks broad cooperation from diverse organizations and groups. This book is a great read, alongside other works that dive deeper into the roots behind ecological injustice and climate change. Brecher stresses the importance of the responsibility of change at the feet of the people, not the government’s.

The ideas proposed emphasis a peaceful resistance against the fossil fuel industry. I wonder how long a peaceful resistance can hold out against the imposing super structure of the fossil fuel industry. That being said, Against Doom does not promise or outline an easy fix. Make no mistake, the odds stacked against doom are incredible. They are not, however, impossible to overcome. Brecher provides an analysis of growing awareness toward climate change and, in some cases, a willingness to act for a just future across the board.

Hopefully if these—and other— solutions are carried out, humanity will likely see a globally strong force of climate warriors, who will guide our species away from certain disaster. Though these methods of transition reveal that humanity will witness drastic changes and possible losses, to much of what we take for granted, if these solutions are carefully acted upon, we may still see a brighter tomorrow and a world worthy of being rebuilt and cared for by our fragile species. Consider Against Doom as a supplementary guide, filled with hope, to that future.

The Explosion Of Deferred Dreams: Musical Renaissance And Social Revolution In San Francisco, 1965 —1975

The Explosion Of Deferred Dreams: Musical Renaissance And Social Revolution In San Francisco, 1965 —1975
By Mat Callahan
PM Press
Street: 01, 01, 2017

The Explosion Of Deferred Dreams is an essential book that explores the powerful relationship between music and politics. Author Mat Callahan highlights the struggles that defined the 1960s and although it is a subject well covered, he shows that this era was fresh with sounds that made one move, and groove in a way that was totally revolutionary. This culturally and revolutionary period was far from perfect and could not be boiled down to the popular idea of simply having flowers in one’s hair. In his study, Callahan uses the San Francisco as his model to understand a deep political history that coincides with the cultural renaissance of the 60’s. To do this, Callahan explores a history of the civil rights, labor struggles and the emergence of feminism.

To understand the complex relationship between music and politics, Callahan first shows that the sounds that came out of the era defied traditional modes of authority because it was a form of expression that was beyond the ability to control. Music was and still is an expression of feeling. Callahan shows this by highlighting the power of performance as a way to channel revolutionary sentiment and even action. Callahan does not shy away from this medium’s controversial pitfalls or its limitations. For example, Callahan explores the capitalist motivations of people who worked behind the scenes and the fans/ musicians flirtations with the intoxicating effects of substances for inspiration. This being said, The Explosion Of Deferred Dreams is very much about the relationship that music plays with politics, for good or bad.

This is fascinating particularly because of the raw nature of sounds that came from folk, rock n’ roll or soul to evoke feeling—a notion not truly understood then by the powers that be. However, as Callahan cites this as an impressive and powerful feat, this revolution did not last. The raw feeling that largely defined the revolutionary aspects of the sounds that came out of the ‘60s were eventually co-opted and filtered into family friendly or acceptable means. Although this resulted in a certain potency being lost, Callahan does show that was to a large degree regained by the punk movement in the late ‘70s.

While Callahan’s look at music as ungovernable medium is above all fascinating, his explorations of topics like feminism, labor struggles and civil rights are intriguing and are important to understand the times. Callahan’s explorations of feminism are of particular note as a philosophy of brutal honesty. As a movement it challenged all things from the fundamentals of the revolutionary movements to societal relationships. Not only that, but Callahan shows that women’s part to play in musical growth is fundamental it’s evolution. Although, he does take care to point out women’s exclusion from the machinations of the music industry.

The Explosion Of Deferred Dreams is an important read to understand the power that music has in the realms of political change. The feelings invoked by rock n roll, soul, folk or other forms were exciting and raw—and arguably they still are. To couple music with forms of resistance was not a new idea, but for the turbulence of the ‘60s, it was truly revolutionary and considered a plausible threat to the establishment. No doubt music still plays a key role in expression, both politically and recreationally. Given the uncertainty of modern times and arguably our collective future, The Explosion Of Deferred Dreams may not only be an interesting read, but an essential one to explore what made music a definitive power of resistance and what were the shortcomings of it. —Nick Kuzmack


Dey Street Books
Street: 10.04

Author Simon Reynolds dives right into the history of glam rock and brilliantly explains its legacy, which continues to span into the 21st century. Its reign was brief. glam came out of the 1960s and charged through the 1970s with all that was glitter and gold. It was perhaps the most interesting subculture that emerged out of the woodwork before punk. It boasted a diversified range of groups that represented both high and low culture. Bands like Slade, Mud, New York Dolls, The Tubes, Gary Glitter T. Rex, Roxy Music, and of course, David Bowie, made up its ranks.

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John Doe

Nearly 40 years ago, John Doe’s infamous band X hit the L.A. punk scene during a period that defined a pop-culture era. While London and New York saw the rise of rock stars from their respective scenes, L.A.’s own movers and shakers remained largely in the shadows—until now, on account of Doe’s new book, Under the Big Black Sun: A Personal History of L.A. Punk. Filled with the rich personal histories from participants of the L.A. punk movement, Under The Big Black Sun shares L.A.’s history with the world.

Dig the interview with X’s John Doe about Under the Big Black Sun: A Personal History of L.A. Punk published @ SLUG Magazine!!



Lita Ford had quite the storied rock n’ roll career: starting off in The Runaways, she rose to impressive prominence as a heavy metal musician in the ’80s. After years in obscurity, Ford has made a comeback to tell her story in Living Like A Runaway, published by Dey Street Books on Feb. 23. “It’s a story that had to be told,” says Ford. “A chick in a rock band in the ’80s … ya know … I was the only one that really that did what I did—play guitar and front a bunch of guys.” Living Like A Runaway takes readers through Ford’s life, both personal and professional. In it, Ford shows time and time again that she pulls no punches. It’s an attitude that very much defines her way of doing things, musically or otherwise.

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Haymarket Books
Street: 04.15.2015

Michael Lowy brilliantly proposes Ecosocialism as a viable alternative to the capitalist mess that has enveloped the planet and that threatens our collective survival. His explanation on how socialism is the system is wonderfully engaging. He explains his theory using examples of the struggle against capitalism and gives step by step solutions to guide readers on a better path. However, while Lowy presents his alternative way of life, he stresses that even his solutions are not a reason for optimism; rather they are the only real way out the catastrophic mess that threatens humanity’s very survival and that time is running out.

Read the full book review published @ SLUG Magazine!!


Ten Speed Press
Street: 09.15.15

Perhaps one of the ultimate ways to celebrate the culture of record collecting—apart from buying more records—is Dust & Grooves: Adventures in Record Collecting. This massive coffee table book holds an impressive collection of photographs and interviews from over 130 record collectors worldwide. Eilon Paz takes readers from apartments in New York to homes in London, through the backstreets of Ghana and beyond in an impressive journey exploring the lifestyles of vinyl obsession and appreciation.

Check out the full book review published @ SLUG Magazine!!


Akashic Books
Street: 10.09.15

Censorship Now!! is the latest book by Ian F. Svenonius—best known for his membership in the hardcore punk band, The Nation Of Ulysses, and is a collection of essays that range on topics of art censorship from “Censorship Now” to “The Rise and Fall of College Rock: Mow yuppies and NPR gentrified punk.” Initially these topics suggest that there are ideas that serve to provoke intelligent conversation and allow the exploration of the possibility of needed controversy. Unfortunately, despite this premise, I cannot help but find that the prose flounders like a fish on dry land and gets lost in the execution.

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Mark Ribowsky
Liveright Publishing Corporation
Street: 06.01

Mark Ribowsky weaves together a brilliant narrative that explores the rise of Otis Redding in conjunction with the essential establishment of Stax Records as a powerhouse that greatly influenced and made the ’60s Southern soul scene. Dreams To Remember uses Redding’s life as the focal point that defined an era of soul music that came from the heart of Memphis and managed to rival Berry Gordy’s Motown label in Detroit—specifically by producing an authentic black soul sound to counter Gordy’s more white-friendly alternative.

Dig the full book review published @ SLUG Magazine!!