Sunday, July 06, 2008

rise above

i'm reading a book called enter naomi, by joe carducci -- author of rock and the pop narcotic, which these days would probably be tagged "the ultimate rockist tome," ahaha. anyway, enter naomi is subtitled "sst, l.a. and all that... ." and, indeed, while it IS about sst house photographer naomi petersen, the book is also a chronicle of the l.a. punk world that swirled around the sst label, black flag, and naomi herself.

steve appleford has a piece about the book in this week's la weekly. the above photo of naomi (by naomi) is in the book; i nicked the file from the webpage with steve's story.

enter naomi is a story, but it's also an archive of sorts -- packed with photos and flyers and other artifacts of the time. carducci distills into the narrative the sort of trainspotting details that deeply devoted music fans love (exact dates of gigs, songs played at soundcheck, names of everypunk who was in the room stuffing the latest releases into envelopes, etc.). this info is essential but at times for me, i will confess, makes for a bit of a slog. but it's vital, and fascinating, documentation from a time not all that well documented.

naomi died in 2003, so the book is an attempt to piece together a life. joe stayed in sporadic touch with her even after they both left l.a., but much of her later life is learned secondhand. it's amazing (and a shame) that she apparently was never profiled -- i guess that seems amazing b/c nowadays we know way too much about people who matter way too little. i didn't start collecting promo material from punk labels until after i got here in 1987 and became music editor at the l.a. reader. all that stuff is stashed in a box somewhere; i'm now very curious as to whether i have any PR shots taken by naomi.

the only things i don't like about the book are (a) some of the totally wrongheaded and frankly puzzling things carducci says about the effects of feminism on society, and, a related issue, (b) that at some point or other while talking about the individual women in the scene, he ends up sort of having them stand for "women in the scene." i don't mean that carducci saw naomi (or anyone else) specifically as a symbol of something, or that he is using her as such in this book. i think he sees her as a person, although, perhaps inevitably, as a woman too. but still, there is a sense that if a person is female, at some point whatever she did or experienced must be analyzed in terms of What the Women Meant. which, fair enough, in a way. but that type of analysis is a function of the situation (ie, male-dominated rock scene) and doesn't really help shed light on these humans who also happen to be women.

and i really just object to carducci's assertion that feminism "... allowed men in general to sink to caddishness ... ." that's pure reactionary bullshit. men are assholes to women because of patriarchy, not feminism. sheesh. it never ceases to amaze me how men who seem to consider themselves radical thinkers have such status-quo notions about women and feminism.

tsk, oh well. that stuff bugs me -- but i'm still enjoying the book.

if you want to know more, joe carducci will be in town for a reading and signing of enter naomi tomorrow (monday) night at 7:30 at:

436 n. fairfax ave., l.a.

the event is free, of course. the book costs 25 bucks.

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