Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Interview with punk writer and anthology contributor, Jennifer Blowdryer

The third interview in our punk anthology series is with Jennifer Blowdryer, a San Francisco punk, musician, playwright and performer. Check out her website and be sure to read her bio, which is entertaining all on it's own.
How do you personally define punk?  
Johnny Rotten. He was a breath of fresh foul air in 1979 and is still going strong.
What is NOT punk?
Girls saying that something is "So punk rock!" they make me hurl.
 What punk song/band changed your life, and how?
When I heard the first singles from Devo and The Ramones I asked somebody how to play those songs. It turned out they were just 3 major chords, which was a relief, but I was not a super talented musician it turned out. Still, I loved Mongoloid, God Save the Queen, Gabba Gabba Hey. The are fun on vinyl and came with a picture from far away.
What has punk taught you about yourself and your life?
It helped me SCREAM and not need to be liked by jokers.
 What surprised you about the punk scene?
Everybody in San Francisco was older and they displayed a variety of end stage addiction that I found confusing but stunning.
 If a person is interested in learning more about punk/DIY, what would you suggest they do?
Buy a guitar. Buy some thick mascara. Kick a can.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Punk Rock Saved My Ass book cover is done!

and here it is


Design by Rick Wismar
Photo by Nicole Lucas (c) 2010

Not only is the cover finished, but the interior is laid out, complete with photos. Rick just sent it off to Jane for a thorough copy edit before we finalize and send to the printer. It's happening people!

I also set up a Face Book fan page for the book where I'm posting videos of bands, images from the book, updates on book events, and general info on punk rock and DIY. Join the club.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Punk Anthology Interview #2 - Matthue Roth

I decided to ask the same questions of every author to compare their responses. I wanted to learn what was similar, and what was different, in their thoughts on punk rock and DIY. Here is the second interview in a series of interviews with the writers who contributed to the anthology, Punk Rock Saved My Ass (launching Spring, 2010). 

Matthue Roth wrote the Orthodox Jewish punk-rock road-trip novel Never Mind the Goldbergs, as well as the novels Losers and Candy in Action and the memoir Yom Kippur a Go-Go. He’s also a performance poet. He has a daughter whose favorite band is The Dead Milkmen (she’s 14 months old) and a wife who hates punk rock, but is kind of down with They Might Be Giants. They live in Brooklyn, but only physically. He keeps a secret journal at

How do you personally define punk?
I'm really bad at personally defining anything -- I just do what I do. But a lot of what I love is punk, and so that rubs off on the stuff I write and the person I am. So I guess that makes me punk?

Punk, I think, is anything that flies in the face of what you'd expect. Punk is yelling at the top of your lungs when you're expected to be quiet, and it's acting like a full-on gentleperson when everyone expects you to stage a riot...or the exact opposite.

But it's more than that, I guess. It's not just going against what people expect of you. It's really ignoring the idea of expectation itself and doing whatever you want or whatever you're feeling. I'm talking about art, mainly, although I think it still holds true with everything else.

What is NOT punk?
Most punk music isn't punk. And a lot of punk art isn't punk at all; it just looks a lot like what punk art was 20 years ago, or 30, or 100. But almost everything else might be punk. You can never tell until it leaps out of the speakers and kicks your ass.

What punk song/band changed your life, and how?
The first real music I liked was Weird Al Yankovic. I discovered They Might Be Giants pretty early on -- they were the ones who forced the transition. I know they're not "punk" per se, or by the books, but it
was like a ray of light from heaven, the realization that you can be nerdy and badass at the same time. I heard "Put Your Hand inside the Puppet Head," and it was like, holy shit, they're creepy and unpredictable and flammable as anything. They're the kind of nerds that might have some sort of deadly chemical cocktail in their back pocket. They're badass.

What has punk taught you about yourself and your life?
It's taught me to question everything. It's taught me how to believe in things. It's taught me that you can't be laid-back or casual about something you care about, whether it's a social issue or a band or a crush, or else it will stop meaning something to you and it will wither up and die.

What surprised you about the punk scene?
The way that people depend on each other so completely. The way that sometimes, that sort of depending-ness falls through completely. And the way that, sometimes, it doesn't.
If a person is interested in learning more about punk/DIY, what would you suggest they do?
Hunt down other people like you. I grew up in an area where I thought I was the only punk-rock kid for hours. Years later, it turns out that three of my best friends all grew up in the area, and were all into
the same things I was -- I just never knew them because I was too busy trying to run away.
But surround yourself with alt-culture. Track down the good stuff, and not just what ever's in the front of the music store or the front page of Amazon. I'll say, because I'm egotistical, my book Never Mind the Goldbergs is a great place to start -- and I'm saying it because I kind of wrote it for my 15-year-old self as the book I wish I could've read. There's a zillion of those types of things out there -- songs, websites, text-message novels. Anything can change your life. The important thing is to realize what they are when you find them.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Interview with "Punk Rock Saved My Ass" contributor, Dick Wizmore

In preparation for the launch of the punk rock anthology, Punk Rock Saved My Ass, here is the first post in an ongoing series of interviews with many of the book's writers who share with us why punk is so important in their lives. Stay tuned for more interviews, as well as breaking news on the launch of this exciting and unique anthology of true life punk rock stories.


Dick Wizmore AKA Rick Wismar AKA the Beef Master is married to the force that is Medusa’s Muse. After growing up in the deep South he escaped to the sanity (?) of the West Coast following punks and punk rock. He attended school in fine art, photography, graphic design, computer science, and all sorts of stuff that doesn’t amount to any degrees or consequence (including juggling, clowning and acrobatics).

Not only did Dick Wizmore write the essay, "Saving Souls," he is the book's designer, and he contributed photographs from various shows he's seen through the years. Included are some never before seen shots of The Bad Brains, as well as many action, "mosh-pit" images.

Tell me Dick, how do you personally define punk?
Punk is a mindset, one of tenacity, DIY, and of sticking to your principles. The diversity that comes from these ideas is what then spurns vegan-punks, eco-punks, political punks, activist punks, art punks...whatever passion drives the soul into their own, personal version of punk.

What is NOT punk?
The status quo that trusts everyone and God. People who never question. You know...sheep.

What punk song/band changed your life, and how?
Running free by the Buzzcocks. I'd been listing to punk for a while and there were many songs I identified with. Some were angry, some were violent, some were funny, but this one made me tear up as I sat in my bedroom, feeling like I had no life and no future of my own.
Lyrics to Running Free :
Here in suburbia
There's nothing left to see
Just want to spend my time running free

I've had enough of the day job
I can see farther than that
Just want to spend my time running free

The air of tension still is rising higher
Screaming emotions are singing to you
(No no no time no no no time)
(No no no time no no no time)

Here in the engine room
A pulse shouts for a word
Just want to spend my time running free

I'll pull out condition
There's no need to face facts
Just want to spend my time running free

You better make a move before sleeping gets you
You better shape soon before the weak things make you
(No no no time no no no time)
(No no no time no no no time)

Here in proles' paradise
Experiments on the weak
Just want to spend my time running free

It's a trick of the torment
You tend to forget yourself
Just want to spend my time running free

Your conscience may be changed as the plan gets harder
It's just been rearranged to keep the strata
(No no no time no no no time)
(No no no time no no no time)

Your conscience may be changed as the plan gets harder
It's just been rearranged to keep the strata
(No no no time no no no time)
(No no no time no no no time)
(No no no time no no no time 

What has punk taught you about yourself and your life?
That I can be in control of my life and my destiny. I don't have to follow the plan set out by my family or society. The DIY thing set me free and the tenacity got me off my ass. I question everything and
come to my own conclusions.

What surprised you about the punk scene?
That it was NOT as open and all encompassing as I thought and wanted it to be. It was sexist and biased in its own way.

If a person is interested in learning more about punk/DIY, what would you suggest they do?
First, find an interest/passion. That can be a challenge all its own, but when you find it, learn all about it and do the investigating and questioning all on your own. Develop your own ideas and conclusions regardless of the popularity of the outcome. Then go for it. Don't take no for an answer. you want to start a band? Great! Buy, borrow, or steal an instrument and learn it. Learn it your way. Forget punk. Forget rap. Forget what you know, and then just do what you want to do. Are you interested
in women's rights? Same idea applies. Research it and come to your own conclusions. Don't just be spoon feed conclusions from your peers. Remember, punk is a very wide and encompassing  movement. It's an idea, as well as a musical, poetic, artistic, political, and social movement. Punk music is only a small part of it. 

Burn your Hot Topic t-shirt and do what you need to do.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Vote for "Punk Rock Saved My Ass" contributor's band, "Faulty Conscience."

If you're in the Boston, MA area, come out and cheer for the band Faulty Conscience as they compete in the 2010 Rompetition, an event promoting unsigned and talented bands in Massachusetts. Two anthology contributors, Chestnut and Squallie, are in the band, so you can show your support for them and the anthology.

Feb. 19th, starting at 8:30 (Faulty Conscience performs at midnight).
McGann's Pub (197 Portland St. Boston, MA 02114)

If you're like me and don't live anywhere near Boston, you can still vote for the band. Check out Faulty Conscience on You Tube and MySpace, and if you like what you hear, vote for them on the website listed in the contest information below.

Break a leg, Faulty Conscience!

Event info from F Nice Records :

This is the fifth night of the NCN '10 Rompetition. This is a 21+ event. 9 acts will be competing for a chance to win a spot on the March 19th NCN '10 Regent Theatre stage, recording time and other crazy prizes too. These bands will be judged by 3 industry and NCN sponsor judges. These 9 acts are...

8:30- Milquetoast & Co.
9- Pentecostal Flying Machine
9:30- Orphan Killbot
10- The Truezoos
10:30- Leaders Led
11- Tall Heights
11:30- Ice Station Impossible
12- Faulty Conscience
12:30 Hello Ninja

The winning band will be announced at the end of the night. You can help your favorite band on this line up become victorious in two ways.

1) Voting on
voting starts on February 12th at 12 AM.

2) Coming to this show and voting for your favorite act. Get your tickets now at

For full details on the No Contracts Needed Rompetition go to:

-F Nice Records

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Blogging advice from Blissdom

Continuing on the blog theme, Ellen at the parenting blog, To The Max, wrote a great post about what she learned at the blogging conference Blissdom (there are blogging conferences? Yes, as a matter of fact, there are, and they sound useful and fun). Her suggestions aren't just for "mommy-bloggers;" anyone who writes a blog and wants to make it as professional and entertaining as possible can learn from her post, especially from her links to other sites (Blogging 101 sounds mighty helpful).

Click the link to read the full post. And tell her Terena sent you.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Blogging is for Old People?

I just finished reading an article in the San Francisco Chronicle about a recent Pew report on the internet habits of the "millennium" generation. Here is an excerpt (click the link to read the full report):

The results indicate blogging has become so 2006, when 28 percent of the two groups studied, teens 12 to 17 and young adults 18 to 29, actively blogged.

By the fall of 2009, that percentage dropped off to only 14 percent of teens and 15 percent of young adults as blogging "lost its luster for many young users," said Amanda Lenhart, one of the report's authors.

Who blogs? People 30 and over. 

The title of the article is called Blogging is for old people, Pew report finds. Besides being annoyed that people over 30 are called "old" (although I guess when you're 15 people over 30 do seem old), I thought this article was interesting. It appears that the older you are, the more you like to analyze and discuss ideas, rather than just blurt out your activities. Blogging is written by people who have time to string more than 140 character thoughts together to create short essays, which are read by people who enjoy thoughts longer than 140 characters. While younger people don't have time for all that introspection. They're in a hurry doing some kind of interesting activity and relating to each other socially in person and on-line.

If the younger generations are too busy to read or write a blog, what, if anything, could this mean for the future of books? 

Overall, the millennium kids read fewer books than Gen X or Boomers, and their attention span is shorter than the older generations. It appears that even blogs, which for years have been dismissed as amateurish rambles from people who think their lives are more interesting than they actually are, may be too dense for the under-30 crowd to read. In 10 years, will we all be reading books on our cellphones, delivered to us in micro-paragraphs full of texting shortcuts?

Maybe, but people have been proclaiming the death of books for years, and I don't buy it. Books, and the ways in which a story is delivered to readers, are changing. Interaction and portability is what the next generation wants, and we publishers had better be ready to deliver it.

I think this study impacts marketing and online networking more than books. Every author is told to "get a website and a blog." But if we writers and publishers want to reach a younger audience, we need to think outside the blog box and look more at what tools the next generation are using, which according to the Pew study is Facebook (70%! Only 40% use MySpace). Twitter was thought to be the giant of the marketing world, but it hasn't really caught on with the Millennium kids. Why? What makes Facebook the social networking site of choice?

The future of books rests in the future of technology. I believe there will always be a hunger for novels because people long to escape into a good story, but the way that story is delivered will be transformed by technology. The way that audience is reached will be transformed by technology. And the best way to reach the next generation of readers is to keep your pitch short, social, and interactive.

But this is only my opinion. Read the article, then tell me what you think.

Monday, February 01, 2010

The Downside of DIY

Punk rock made a huge impression on me in college, and ever since, I have lived by the spirit of punk-DIY, which means "Do It Yourself." No, I'm not talking about home improvement, I'm talking about not waiting for someone else to sanction my creativity with their publishing contract or professional approval.  My heroes are the builders of the Burnside skate park in Portland, Oregon; poet and artist Lawrence Ferlinghetti, creator of City Lights bookstore and press; and Ani DiFranco, singer and owner of Righteous Babe Records. They didn't wait around for someone to hand them a skate park or book press or record company, they just went out and created what they wanted.

I love books, so I decided to start a publishing company. Rather than just dream about it, I went to workshops, studied how-to books, and networked with other small publishers until I was ready to start doing it myself. In 2007 I published Laura Fogg's book, Traveling Blind: Life Lessons from Unlikely Teachers, and in 2009 I wrote and published a hand-book for other people interested in starting a press,  called What You Need to Know to Be a Pro. Now I'm almost ready to publish the third Medusa's Muse book, Punk Rock Saved My Ass: an anthology.

I said almost ready.

I love publishing and the freedom to create whatever I choose, but I don't love the constant challenges that are a part of doing anything DIY. The more independent you are, the more the demands of managing and promoting the press fall on you. And if your press's structure resembles a co-op of volunteers (like Medusa's Muse), then the more likely it is that your publishing plans will have to be revised numerous times. You will chose a launch date, only to have that date postponed by family emergencies, illnesses, financial problems and unemployment. Equipment will break down you won't be able to fix and money that was going toward the print bill will have to be diverted to fixing your leaky roof. Throw in children, relationships, school and a day-job, and before you know it your tiny, struggling press will be in critical condition, making you wonder if it's time to cut off life support.

And that will be just you. You'll also have to contend with the other people who are donating their time to the book project and all of their messy lives and impossible schedules. Your copy-editor will decide to get a Master's degree and move away. Your designer will lose his day job, which should open up more time for him to finish the interior layout of the book, but instead he'll be forced to scramble for any type of work he can get, forcing your non-paying book job to the bottom of his priority list. Writers will take longer than expected to finish their revisions. And the person who said she would help with promotion and marketing will suddenly disappear. All of this will leave you desperately holding the project together. And when someone asks, "When's the book coming out?" you can only say, "Soon."

Soon? You need an actual date, but the designer can't give you one. Without a launch date, or a finished cover for that matter, you can't get the marketing campaign going and you can't tell the authors when they can expect the book to appear so they can promote it themselves. All you can do is wait.

And wait...

and breath...

and try not to yell at anyone...

Because everyone helping you publish this book is donating their talents for free. They don't have to do any of it, and without their help, you can't publish a book at all. Not with the budget you have.

This is the moment when you have to hold the dream tight and not give up. DIY requires obstinacy and imagination. You must be too stubborn to quit and have the imagination to find a way through the obstacles. DIY requires patience and hard work. It isn't easy, and anyone who tells you how easy it is to publish your own book is a scam artist. Lazy people won't last a month. If you're the type to give up when things get hard, don't even try DIY.

Luckily for my authors, I'm not lazy and I never quit.