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Article: Happy Anniversary...
Writer: Shindo
Date Posted: 16/07/01

I hate anniversaries. Unless you have a personal connection (like your wedding) the fact that “It's been 10 years since…” means absolutely nothing. What's worse is when we make up anniversaries for idiotic reasons. It's May 2001 and I've just bought my first issue of a little music magazine called Spin.

The stupidest possible picture of Sid Vicious glares at me from the cover. “25 Years of Punk” is the headline (in Sex Pistols pink). Why is it punk's 25th anniversary in May of 2001? It's because punk is popular again. There is heightened interest in punk music and it will sell magazines (hell, I bought one). Maybe I'm too cynical, but if punk were not in the spotlight today, Spin would not have cared. However as I stare down at the two “collectable”(re: purchasable) covers, that's all I could think of. On the first cover is the late Joey Ramone (who died shortly after this release, so I can't make any “cashing in” accusations, as tempting as it may seem). If we need to celebrate a punk anniversary, Joey is a fine choice. Then we have Sid. Sid who was in the hospital with hepatitis when “Never Mind The Bollocks” was recorded. Sid who made headlines not as a revolutionary musician, but as a reckless junkie. Aside from adding to the nihilistic aspect of the punk spirit, he really did not do much. He's on the cover because of his name recognition.

Maybe I'm just in a trendy, anti-corporate rock mindset. However it's hard not to be when there are 22 pages of advertisements before I reach the table of contents (labeled as page 19). Somewhere in the sea of ads, nestled between a Sprite contest (enter today!) and the Iomega Pocket Zip (tool of the future!), lies the punk feature.

Spin scores points for ambition, but fails on the delivery. The writers did their homework and know their history. However the punk movement is too big to define without leaving important facts out. For example, the article on the SoCal scene actually fails to mention Bad Religion and hardly speaks of NOFX. Publicly known (but oh-so less important) bands such as Blink 182 and No Doubt are mentioned however. While their late 70's era punk is of textbook precision, anything even relatively modern is lost on them.

Spin also takes it upon itself to define the 50 most essential punk albums. The obvious candidates are present: “The Clash,” “Ramones,” and “Never Mind The Bollocks.” Important albums are easily agreed with. No one argues that Minor Threat's “Complete Discography” or the Dead Kennedy's “Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables” deserve recognition. However other obviously worthy, and most importantly influential, albums are left out. Bad Religion's “Suffer” and Operation Ivy's “Energy” had much more influence then many of the “classic” bands that were listed. It's impossible to listen to any radio-played punk today and not hear shades of NOFX. Rage Against The Machine front man Zack de la Rocha once said that Bad Religion's “Fuck Armageddon This Is Hell,” inspired him to pursue music. Yet Bad Religion is left out but Rage is not.

Spin's writing style is filled with (attempts at) witty inside references to song lyrics and band history. The style does not apply well to punk, and the magazine comes off sounding pretentious. The attempts at humor backfires at times. A photograph of Black Flag's Henry Rollins and H.R. of Bad Brains is captioned “Dude, check it out. I'm down.” Apparently Spin finds it funny when white and black people associate with each other. Of all the pictures of Joe Strummer to choose from, Spin has a photo of him rolling a joint (because pot makes you cool kids) with the idiotic caption “Inspiration, thy name is doobage.” Let's cheapen their work as much as we can...

I don't claim to by an expert by any means. Many of the sources Spin used could bury me in a contest of punk-knowledge. However having great sources and applying great sources are two different things. I'm not saying I could do a better job defining punk. I'm saying that it doesn't need to be defined, especially in the context of a trendy corporate magazine.