From Innocent Words Magazine:
It's the summer of 1977 and Aimee Cooper is being stood up outside
the New York City Museum of Natural History. Budding punk rock feminist
that she is, she swallows her tears and heads downtown to the nearest
punk show. Wandering around Greenwich Village she finds a handmade
sign for the Village Gate. Inside, she finds Johnny Thunders and
the Heartbreakers and her destiny.
Like any soul on the path to enlightenment,
Cooper is presented with a series of signs. Back at college in
California, she stumbles upon a copy of Slash magazine at a record
store. Slash becomes her guide to the L.A. punk scene and, ultimately
to the next chapter of her life. The story of how Cooper lands a
gig at the indie magazine/record label reads like a punk rock Mary
Tyler Moore episode with Husker Du singing "You're gonna make
it after all."
The photo on the back cover tells
you everything you need to know about Aimee Cooper
and her unique perspective on the L.A. punk scene.
She's got one foot inside a combat boot covered with
chains and the other, small and delicate, covered
in a pastel daisy sock. Slam dancing punk on the
outside; sweet, sunny girl on the inside. Despite
varied attempts to inspire a punk tag (she finally
comes up with Amoeba) everyone still calls her Aimee. "When
people describe punk rock, words like anger, belligerence,
and rage are often used... But no one could have
applied those to me..." She was, in her own
words, "one happy punk rocker!" And
it is this sense of giddy joy which sets this memoir apart.
If you're gonna go for a vicarious walk on the wild
side, this is the girl you want to take you there.
Punk can be political and dead serious. But we are
reminded that punk is also a wild skateboard ride,
a sweaty, pulsing communal dance. In other words:
the title suggests, this is the story of a play-by-the-rules
girl who never fits in till she find the Tao of Punk
and learns how to color outside the lines. Cooper's
favorite book is The Outsiders, a story of a gang
of misfits told by a then 16 year old girl. And Coloring
Outside the Lines is in many ways Cooper's The Outsiders.
When Cooper meets up with The Connected, a transient
group of teens who function as an extended family,
it is if she has met her soul mates. Cooper's recounting
of her days with the TC present a surprising twist
in the typical punk rock terrain. Tucked inside the
memories of X and The Germs are glimpses of teen
drama the likes of which the WB can't begin to touch.
Trendspotters are buzzing
away these days about how the punk aesthetic is "back." But the
punk they see on the runways and at the photo shoots
shares nothing more than fabrics and Manic Panic
hair dyes with the world Cooper depicts. In a topsy-turvy
world where corporate marketing strategists are the
ones screaming "Nothing is Sacred" as they
co-opt punk rock iconography, it does this old punk's
heart good to know that Aimee Cooper, proto-riot-grrl
and DIY writer/publisher, is out there reminding
us what it's all about: the music and the people.
The L.A. punk scene of Cooper's
day ultimately imploded, cracking from a combination
of internal and external pressure (e.g., drugs,
violence perpetrated at and by punkers). And while
Cooper signs off with a "I'm
glad I got out when I did, but I wouldn't have missed
it for the world", I wanted to hear her thoughts
about the current state of the live music scene.
But perhaps that's not the book Cooper intended to
write. Besides, you can't read this book and not
feel the power of live music. These were the days
when punk music was largely ephemeral. It was about
the gigs, not the recordings. It was about what happened
in the pit. Did the cops come out in full riot gear?
Did Darby Crash roll around the stage in broken glass?
The beauty of this memoir is that it locks you inside
the moment. And what a moment it was.
– Debra Domal