Letters

Letters 09-15-2014

Stop The Games On Campus

Four head coaches – two at U of M and two at MSU – get a total of $13 million of your taxpayer dollars each year. Their staffs get another $11 million...

The Truth About Fatbikes

While we appreciate the fatbike trail coverage, the quote from the article below is exactly what we demonstrated not to be true in most cases last season...

Man Has Environmental Responsibility

I tend to agree with Thomas Kachadurian (“Playing God,” Sept. 8) that we should not interfere with the power of nature by deciding what is “native” and what is not. Man usually does what is better for man (or so we believe), hence the survival and population growth of our species...

The Bush & Obama Facts

Don Turner’s letter to the editor on 8/25/14 stated that there has never been a more corrupt, dishonest, etc. set of politicians in the White House. He states no facts, but here are a few...

Ban Pesticides

I grew up downstate in a neighborhood without pesticides. I was always very healthy. Living here, I have become ill. So I did my research and found out a lot about these poison agents called pesticides (herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, chemical fertilizers, etc) that are being spread throughout this community, accumulating in our air, water and soil...

Respect for Presidents?

Recently we read the Letter to the Editor that encouraged us to stop characterizing President Obama as anything other than an upstanding, moral, inspiring “first Black President”. The author would have us think that the rancor in the press, media and public is misguided. And, believe it or not, this rancor is a “glaring exception to … unwritten patriotic rule” of historically supporting all previous presidents...


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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