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ERIC Number: EJ998665
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 24
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 25
ISSN: ISSN-0005-2604
Backyard Brats and Eastside Punks: A History of East LA's Punk Scene
Alvarado, Jimmy
Aztlan: A Journal of Chicano Studies, v37 n2 p157-180 Fall 2012
Music history and punk rock have long had an uneasy relationship because historians often fail to take two major factors into account when approaching the subject matter. One: punk's raison d'etre is to subvert much that music historians rely on in order to deem a particular performer or group significant. And two: punk is a living, thriving subculture that not only didn't "die" in 1977/83/86 or thereafter, but continues to reinvent and reinvigorate itself every few years. Still, many try to find rock stars in a world that disdains rock stars, doesn't assess a performer's worth by the number of units shifted, and hides its best purveyors in the deepest recesses of the underground. As can be expected, the resulting efforts often miss the point and are not unlike looking at a Seurat painting and being so obsessed with the dots that one fails to see the sailboat. True, Sex Pistols, Ramones, and Dead Kennedys were crucial to punk's genesis, but how about the contributions of Alien Sex Fiend, Theoretical Girls, or Flipper? The same is true of attempts to chronicle Los Angeles punk and the place of East Los Angeles within its history. When mentioned at all, East LA punk is often dismissed as an anomalous ethnic curio, an odd attitude given the numerous folks of non-Caucasian extraction involved in the more lauded Hollywood and Orange County scenes. The focus is almost always limited to the discussion of three or four bands, one club, and a time period of March--November 1980. Exhibitions like the recent "Vexing: Female Voices from East LA Punk," which focuses on women working within the confines of East LA's punk scene, are beginning to shine a light on what is still a woefully underrepresented and misunderstood corner of the Los Angeles underground. It is essential, however, to keep in mind that what is covered by "Vexing" and nearly all of the material published to date is only a small part of a greater scene and history that predates the opening of the Vex and has continued long after that club's demise. Attention remains centered on the roughly eight-month period of the Vex's initial run at Self Help Graphics, with pitifully little in terms of a larger context; what has resulted is the omission or undervaluing of some of the scene's pioneers and the invention of a few stubbornly entrenched myths. Although space limitations here prevent a complete accounting of the entire history of East LA punk and the varied bands, artists, and subgenres that have sprung from it, the author hopes that this brief, admittedly incomplete overview will give a glimpse of the much broader scene that included the bands and artists featured in "Vexing"--a scene that is still very much alive. (Contains 10 figures and 2 notes.)
UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center. 193 Haines Hall, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1544. Tel: 310-794-9380; Tel: 310-825-2642; Fax: 310-206-1784; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: California