Letters

Letters 09-07-2015

DEJA VUE Traverse City faces the same question as faced by Ann Arbor Township several years ago. A builder wanted to construct a 250-student Montessori school on 7.78 acres. The land was zoned for suburban residential use. The proposed school building was permissible as a “conditional use.”

The Court Overreached Believe it or not, everyone who disagrees with the court’s ruling on gay marriage isn’t a hateful bigot. Some of us believe the Supreme Court simply usurped the rule of law by legislating from the bench...

Some Diversity, Huh? Either I’ve been misled or misinformed about the greater Traverse City area. I thought that everyone there was so ‘all inclusive’ and open to other peoples’ opinions and, though one may disagree with said person, that person was entitled to their opinion(s)...

Defending Good People I was deeply saddened to read Colleen Smith’s letter [in Aug. 24 issue] regarding her boycott of the State Theater. I know both Derek and Brandon personally and cannot begin to understand how someone could express such contempt for them...

Not Fascinating I really don’t understand how you can name Jada Johnson a fascinating person by being a hunter. There are thousands of hunters all over the world, shooting by gun and also by arrow; why is she so special? All the other people listed were amazing...

Back to Mayberry A phrase that is often used to describe the amiable qualities that make Traverse City a great place to live is “small-town charm,” conjuring images of life in 1940s small-town America. Where everyone in Mayberry greets each other by name, job descriptions are simple enough for Sarah Palin to understand, and milk is delivered to your door...

Don’t Be Threatened The August 31 issue had 10 letters(!) blasting a recent writer for her stance on gay marriage and the State Theatre. That is overkill. Ms. Smith has a right to her opinion, a right to comment in an open forum such as Northern Express...

Treat The Sickness Thank you to Grant Parsons for the editorial exposing the uglier residual of the criminalizing of drug use. Clean now, I struggled with addiction for a good portion of my adult life. I’ve never sold drugs or committed a violent crime, but I’ve been arrested, jailed, and eventually imprisoned. This did nothing but perpetuate shame, alienation, loss and continued use...

About A Girl -- Not Consider your audience, Thomas Kachadurian (“About A Girl” column). Preachy opinion pieces don’t change people’s minds. Example: “My view on abortion changed…It might be time for the rest of the country to catch up.” Opinion pieces work best when engaging the reader, not directing the reader...

Disappointed I am disappointed with the tone of many of the August 31 responses to Colleen Smith’s Letter to the Editor from the previous week. I do not hold Ms. Smith’s opinion; however, if we live in a diverse community, by definition, people will hold different views, value different things, look and act different from one another...

Free Will To Love I want to start off by saying I love Northern Express. It is well written, unbiased and always a pleasure to read. I am sorry I missed last month’s article referred to in the Aug. 24 letter titled, “No More State Theater.”

Home · Articles · News · Books · Rubber City Rampage
. . . .

Rubber City Rampage

Robert Downes - December 1st, 2008
Punk Rock and Trailer Parks
By Derf - SLG Publishing
152 pages. $15.95


Who knew? Akron, Ohio was at the epicenter of the punk rock movement at the dawn of the ‘80s, churning out some of the greatest bands of the era.
That’s one of the revelations in Punk Rock and Trailer Parks, a new graphic novel by Derf, the artist whose comic, The City has run in the Northern Express since the early ‘90s.
If anyone would know, it’s Derf Backderf, a resident of Cleveland whose work appears in alternative newspapers across the nation. Derf’s noir viewpoint is almost gothic in his approach to trolling the gritty, banal bottomlands of life in the Midwest -- an Ohio frozen in a New Dark Age and locked in medieval attitudes.
Nowhere is that exploration more evident than in his high school haunts of Akron, a town known as Rubber City for its tire factories, which also happens to be stalled by a Rustbelt recession as the book opens.
Yet there’s one bright spot for the trailer park kids doomed to life in Akron: by some odd confluence of fate, rage and despair, the town gave rise to a dynamic punk rock scene, starting in 1979, with acts such as Devo, Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders and other raw & ragged groups swept up by punk’s power. A lively club scene took root in a ruined bank, bringing in such iconic acts as The Ramones and The Clash. The punk rock eruption prompted Melody Maker magazine to dub Rubber City as “the new Liverpool.”

NERB POWER
Derf tells Akron’s story through the eyes of Otto, a high school marching band nerd who discovers his calling as a punk rock singer. Otto lives in his crazy uncle’s trailer park on the edge of town. His nerdiness extends to recording a symphony of his own farts on a cassette deck and quoting from the wisdom of the elves and wizards of J.R.R. Tolkien. He lusts after a high school hottie, Teri Workman, whose only attribute seems to be her outsize mammaries.
Otto makes for a dreary protagonist as the reader endures a series of his high school hijinx and his transformation from outcast to a local rock hero. But the payoff for the reader is the trip down punk history lane as Otto attends a succession of concerts at Akron’s rock club, The Bank. He has encounters with The Ramones, Joe Strummer of The Clash, and the pneumatic Wendy O. Williams of The Plasmatics -- among the most dazzling characters of punk’s hey-day.
Derf also explores the subtext of rock politics. While epic bands such as The Clash perform their masterpiece album, “London Calling” for a few hundred kids at The Bank, slick, corporate rock stars such as Journey pack a local stadium with 17,000 fans. Rock music critic Lester Bangs makes a pilgrimage to Akron to witness the scene, commiserating on the triumph of style over substance. “These are mutant times,” Bangs says. “We need people making passionate music out of noise and sonic scraps! Instead, we get Steve Perry crooning banal flapdoodle to throngs of mesmerized sheep!”

UNMATCHED STYLIST
And when Otto finally gets to strut his stuff for Teri as the frontman for his band at The Bank, she doesn’t even know he appeared on stage. “Well... I don’t really like this punk stuff much...” she says. “I like real rock-n-roll. Frampton.. Journey...”
And so it goes. The other star of the show is Derf’s artistry. As a stylist, few graphic artists match his ability to capture the “no future” slouch and despair of the underclass. This is his second and longest graphic novel (the first was a saga of his high school classmate, Jeffrey Dahmer, the notorious gay cannibal of the ‘90s). Derf was also the recipient of a prestigious Robert F. Kennedy Award in 2006 and his work is featured in Best American Cartoons: 2008 (Houghton-Miiflin).
Punk Rock and Trailer Parks is a historical document of the recent past, unearthing a time and place that may have already fled the memories of the boomers and Gen-X kids who made that scene. Readers will be thrilled to find a soundtrack of more than 40 artists that can be downloaded from iTunes to be read along with the book. There’s also a fatal aftermath of 10 players who made the punk scene in Akron and didn’t live to tell the tale -- Oh, the wages of rock stardom...
Will Otto get the girl? Will Akron rise to the heights of a music mecca? Will the geniuses of punk find their reward with commercial love and acceptance? Find out in Punk Rock and Trailer Parks, available at bookstores and www.derfcity.com

 
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