Fans of T.S.O.L., Fargo Rock City, Scratch Acid, and their like should rush to this invigorating history.



In which Ronnie Raygun and corporate entertainment come in for a slagging, courtesy of three (distorted) chords and the truth.

If you wanted to get beat up in high school in the early 1980s, your best strategy would be to show up with your “hair cut into a spikey mess” and listening to punk rock—not the sellout punk of the decade before but truly antinomian acts like Black Flag, Millions of Dead Cops, and Jodie Foster’s Army. That cohort of musicians and their fans, writes Mattson—now a professor of history at Ohio University, then a denizen of the mosh pit—stood strongly against the prevailing politics of the time, with a president who “lived in a bubble of entertainment, who referenced Hollywood films to justify his policies.” The DIY ethos of second-generation punk extended beyond music to include filmmaking (Alex Cox’s Repo Man comes in for close analysis), publishing (with mimeographed zines the coin of the realm), art, and other endeavors. This was all in protest against not just Reaganism, but also a corporate culture that served up product instead of music—and whose vision of what youth was supposed to be, courtesy of the Republican-lite John Hughes, was an offense to actual young people. “It was like People’s Park,” Mattson writes, “create something yourself, lay the sod, and then defend it against those with power.” True, some of the leaders of second-wave punk found themselves being served up as product: Once Nirvana broke, for instance, MTV couldn’t find enough grunge bands to fill the hours. Still, writes the author in this consistently fascinating music history, we should remember the punk rock of the ’80s both for its creativity and “as a moment when kids saw themselves as creating their own culture, prompting them to think about the world differently”—not bad as aspirations go.

Fans of T.S.O.L., Fargo Rock City, Scratch Acid, and their like should rush to this invigorating history.

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-19-090823-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.


A former New York City dancer reflects on her zesty heyday in the 1970s.

Discovered on a Manhattan street in 2020 and introduced on Stanton’s Humans of New York Instagram page, Johnson, then 76, shares her dynamic history as a “fiercely independent” Black burlesque dancer who used the stage name Tanqueray and became a celebrated fixture in midtown adult theaters. “I was the only black girl making white girl money,” she boasts, telling a vibrant story about sex and struggle in a bygone era. Frank and unapologetic, Johnson vividly captures aspects of her former life as a stage seductress shimmying to blues tracks during 18-minute sets or sewing lingerie for plus-sized dancers. Though her work was far from the Broadway shows she dreamed about, it eventually became all about the nightly hustle to simply survive. Her anecdotes are humorous, heartfelt, and supremely captivating, recounted with the passion of a true survivor and the acerbic wit of a weathered, street-wise New Yorker. She shares stories of growing up in an abusive household in Albany in the 1940s, a teenage pregnancy, and prison time for robbery as nonchalantly as she recalls selling rhinestone G-strings to prostitutes to make them sparkle in the headlights of passing cars. Complemented by an array of revealing personal photographs, the narrative alternates between heartfelt nostalgia about the seedier side of Manhattan’s go-go scene and funny quips about her unconventional stage performances. Encounters with a variety of hardworking dancers, drag queens, and pimps, plus an account of the complexities of a first love with a drug-addled hustler, fill out the memoir with personality and candor. With a narrative assist from Stanton, the result is a consistently titillating and often moving story of human struggle as well as an insider glimpse into the days when Times Square was considered the Big Apple’s gloriously unpolished underbelly. The book also includes Yee’s lush watercolor illustrations.

A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-27827-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2022

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A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.



The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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