Just come to my attention: Nice to see my 1996 book Stranded included on a list of “The 10 Best Books About Punk Rock” by Sunil Badami for Double-J on the occasion, apparently, of the 40th anniversary of punk. I say ‘apparently’ because the birthday/geneology of punk is itself a culture war I don’t want to get into here. But how nice an acknowledgement is it really? given some of the other 9 books on the list!
Without wishing to get into too much of another culture war, or parlor game – listomania, I call it – I couldn’t possibly disagree with the inclusion of Please Kill Me or England’s Dreaming, both great great books, and respectively well reprezenting the American and British sides of the story just as Stranded represents Australia's. But the rest? I dunno. I would certainly say, What about Mark P’s The Bible? What about Caroline Coon’s 1988? What about The Boy Looked at Johnny? as silly as it was. Given that my firm conviction is that regardless of punk’s origins, it was dead by 1978 as surely as Sid Vicious died only a few weeks into the following year (just as surely as grunge died along with Kurt Cobain); after that, in a post-punk world, it becomes a non-issue, sort of. On which basis you’d have to include another of my books too, Inner City Sound, which I’m sure its fans who call it ‘the Bible’, or a ‘foundation document’ or ‘sacred text’, would nominate way ahead of Stranded. But it is nice to at least see Stranded as an Australian title (the only one) nestling alongside all those other American and British books, which is an equity not accorded by similar such lists coming out of America and Britain themselves – which was part of the drive behind it, as well as Inner City Sound, in the first place! Off the top of my head I can think of a few other books I’d nominate even before Patti Smith’s Just Kids too: Like Clinton Heylin’s From the Velvets to the Voidoids (despite its dreadful title) and Simon Reynolds’ Rip it Up and Start Again, and – again evening out the imbalance – Andrew Stafford’s Pig City. Ultimately though, perhaps all this does is beg the question yet again, Why didn't the makers of that awful 2015 documentary Stranded just come direct to my quality source, rather than passing-off themselves as something they weren't?