Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk (An Evergreen book) - Legs McNeil, Gillian McCain

Things I learned from this book...


-Everyone involved in the early American punk scene was one big incestuous relationship. Everyone had sex with everyone else at one point or another. Male, female, transsexuals, johns, etc.
-Everyone was on drugs. How did punk even get started? I mean really, it amazes me that punk even remotely got off it's feet, everyone was so messed up.
-Patti Smith still kind of freaks me out, but you have to respect her determination.
-Lou Reed is a douchebag.
-Even completely drugged out of his mind, I still love Iggy. He's so perfectly strange.
-They consider Jim Morrison to be a forerunner of punk because of his stumbling drunk performances seemed to be a fuck you to the buttoned up squares going to the shows to be "cool". I love the Doors and Jim to a fault, but let's get real. Those performances were less fuck you's and more I'm wasted out of my mind and don't know what is going on. But hey, it gave Iggy motivation to do the Stooges so I'll take it.
-Nancy Spungen went to England to clean herself up. Well that worked out well.
-to quote William S. Burroughs "I always thought punk was someone who took it up the ass". I find it interesting and a little amusing that this was the term that was used to coin this movement. I respect that they took a derogatory term and flipped it on it's head though. It's very punk of them.
-No one liked Steven Tyler. Well, that isn't really new, but it needs repeating.
-Malcolm McLaren is still one of the worst things that happened to punk.


I'm a little torn on my feelings on this book. It was incredibly interesting, but less an "oral history of punk" and more of an oral history of the absolute sex and drugged fueled insanity that was NY/Detroit punk. How the albums came out even remotely decent is shocking, much less as game changing as they were. It was interesting to see the NY scene's take on the origins of punk, obviously they lay claim to the title for themselves rather than the UK scene. I see it as more of feeding off each other, they both have the same nihilistic anarchy and general fuck off feeling put out through simple but heavy guitar riffs. They both brought music away from the heavily synthesized embellishment that came out of the late 60s/early 70s rock and took it back to the basic 50s rock with a twist. It was garage rock with a flair of fuck you. I guess a majority of the hate towards UK punk seems to come at the heels of the fashion statement that came along with them. Like so many other genres, people latched on to a fad to follow and then they lost their way with the music. It doesn't make [some of] those bands any less influential under all of that crap though.




I loathed to enjoy most of this book. While the antics of the scene had it's moments of enjoyment, the fact that the same scene played a part in destroying so many lives makes it hard to read about it. They did it to themselves, yes, but that doesn't make it any less sad to see how they ended up. They definitely lived the sex, drugs & rock n roll lifestyle full tilt though and created amazingness in their wake. No matter whether it was the NY or the UK scene who started punk, they created something amazing and in turn influenced so many others to create even more.


Now I need to find a book on the Cali punk scene to finish my journey of punk off.