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Sex, Drugs & Rock & Roll
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Sex, Drugs & Rock & Roll

By kileyturner
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49th Shelf friends helped compile this list of Canadian books that focus on the grungy, gritty, thrilling, dangerous, sometimes glamourous life of rock music, mind-altering drugs, and sex (we asked that two of the three be present for a book to make the list). Tweet us if you have more to add!
Gods of the Hammer

Gods of the Hammer

The Teenage Head Story
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
tagged :

'Teenage Head changed the face of music in this country. I would not be who I am today without their first record ... In 1979 they were the only band that mattered.’—Hugh Dillon

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, no Canadian band rocked harder, louder or to more hardcore fans than Hamilton, Ontario's own Teenage Head. Although usually lumped in the dubiously inevitable 'punk rock' category of the day, this high-Ã??energy quartet Ã??Ã??consistingof four guys who'd known each other since hig …

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Dirty, Drunk, and Punk

Dirty, Drunk, and Punk

The Twisted Crazy Story of the Bunchofuckingoofs
edition:Paperback

The Bunchofuckingoofs were born in 1984. They were a punk band. An art collective. A bicycle gang. They were anti-establishment, anti-consumerism, and lived totally D.I.Y. They played music, made their own clothes, and lived commune-style at Fort Goof. Their name even made it onto the Berlin Wall. The Bunchofuckingoofs have been a Toronto institution for thirty years. Reviled by some for their punk music, hard looks, and rough lifestyle, they were hardcore with hearts. They were the kings and qu …

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Fury's Hour

Fury's Hour

A (sort-of) Punk Manifesto
edition:Paperback

No-holds-barred political strategist Warren Kinsella’s colourful, no-holds-barred look at punk rock, and how it influenced him and millions of other kids to strive for nothing less than changing the world.

Playing bass for Calgary punk-rock quartet the Hot Nasties might seem a strange way for one of Canada’s top political strategists to have spent his formative years, but in Fury’s Hour — Warren Kinsella’s exploration of punk’s history and heroes, its factions, failures and triumphs …

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Excerpt

Hey everyone would you look at me
At least what I’m supposed to be
Anything this, is it anything new?
Frustrated, confused, and acne, too
What do I think, I think someone said
Give me your hand, and touch my head
I think, I do not think, I do not care
I think what everyone put there
“I Am a Confused Teenager,”
the Hot Nasties
I Am a Confused Teenager
(or, the punk’s secret of immortality)

“NO, NO, NO, NO, NO! YOU PUNK!”

Now, this was going to be interesting.

“Listen, you little punk, you’re going to get arrested for inciting a goddamned riot, do you understand me? Get these people off this stage now, punk!”

I have to admit, the police officer’s bellowed threat sounded a lot more like an offer. To a rabble-rousing teenage punk like me – and to the anti-social bunch of punks that made up our band, the Hot Nasties – getting arrested for inciting a riot was pretty fucking cool. I kept playing, and kept hollering into the microphone, and kept looking at the cop, who in turn was glowering at me. He had his hand on his constable’s utility belt, which suggested to me that he was about to mace me, handcuff me or shoot me. Any one of these things would have brought the Hot Nasties big show at the Calgary Stampede to a crashing halt, but – man! – what an amazing finish it would be. I kept playing. The cop kept glaring. The “rioters” kept “rioting.”

It was July 13, 1980, and the Hot Nasties – along with quite a few punks and a dozen or so cops – were onstage at the Calgary Stampede. The nice people at the Calgary Stampede had invited us to play, I suppose, because they were interested in letting suburban moms and dads take a peek at this wacky new punk thing that everyone was talking about. We didn’t ask what their motivation was, frankly. When the earnest, cowboy-hatted organizers offered us a chance to spread discord and dissent in the middle of the family-friendly annual event that makes Calgary, Alberta, Canada, world-famous – well, hell. We would have paid to stir up shit on that scale.

But, still. Having the dozen cops onstage with us probably made our point better than the scores of punks could. Our point being, punk wasn’t about being comfortable, or complacent, or entertained. It was about pissed-off young people shaking things up, and having a bit of fun, and maybe changing a few attitudes (and redressing a few injustices) along the way.

The cop stepped closer, menacingly, apparently intending to signal how serious he was about arresting me for inviting punks onto the Stampede’s stage to dance, and thereby, to wit and henceforth, causing a “riot,” Your Honour. I stopped playing bass and waved to the rest of the Hot Nasties to cease and desist. Our song, a moderately popular three-chord rant called “Invasion of the Tribbles,” ground to an inglorious stop.

“Okay, okay,” I said into the microphone. Photos I have subsequently seen of that precise moment show me in my favourite biker jacket and a cowboy hat, the cop towering overhead, his back turned (rudely, I thought) to the one thousand or so folks in attendance. “I am going to be arrested for inciting a riot if you darn punks don’t stop dancing and get off the stage.” I paused and glanced at the cop, who seemed capable of murder at any moment. “You don’t want me arrested, do you?” I asked the crowd.

A wild cheer went up.

“I thought so,” I said. “But get off the friggin’ stage anyway, okay?”

Alright, let’s clear up a few things before this little punk show gets started, shall we?

Yes, I am in the first half of my forties. Yes, I live in a nice house and am happily married and have four great kids (all of whom love punk rock, by the way). Yes, I think I’m going to need reading glasses soon, and I am balding, and what isn’t falling out is getting awfully grey. Yes, I am not nearly as politically radical as I once was – although there are plenty of rightist assholes who’d tell you that I have become a crazed Bolshevik as I have become older. Yes, I am a middle-class dad, and I sometimes wear ties. Yes, the writing of this book is probably some weird manifestation of the beginning of a mid-life crisis. Yes, I am, in effect, a boring old fart of the type that I used to malign, back when I wrote songs for the punk outfit calling itself the Hot Nasties. Yes, I have become that which I once sought to destroy.

Big fucking deal. Piss off, as a punk might say, if you don’t approve. I still get excited by the music, and I still admire virtually every teenage punk I pass on the street – for their refusal to conform, for their guts, for their passion, for their commitment. I love punk, and – somewhere deep inside my geriatric chest – there is a sixteen-year-old in a black leather biker jacket, endlessly playing along to “Sheena Is a Punk Rocker.” Spitting.

As you will shortly discover, I am about as subtle as a hand grenade in a bowl of porridge, and the same (hopefully) goes for this book. Given that this little tome is about punk, and given that I used to be one myself, subtlety seems ill-advised in any event. Punk has always been loud, noisy and fast, and anyone who knows me will tell you I’m that way too.

Nowadays, however, I stand at the back of the dark, dingy halls, with all the other old farts, singing along with the great punk tunes (new and less new) and laughing at the young punks down in front, jumping up and down, smashing into each other, diving off the stage and hoping like hell someone will catch them before they meet up with concrete. It’s just so fucking great, this punk stuff, and I love it so much, I wanted to tell you why.

Oh, and there are a lot of swear words in this book. Punks swear a lot, and I’ve never lost the habit (ask my wife). When my kids get older, I’m going to get a fucking earful about this, believe me.

Okay, here’s some biographical crap.

When I was fifteen, I belonged to the Non-Conformist News Agency. It was a non-existent political party that a few of us cooked up in our final year at St. Bonaventure Junior High School. We used the NCNA to cause all kinds of shit at St. Bonaventure: burning the school constitution at lunchtime, reading the Communist Manifesto in English class, demanding a day off to commemorate the shootings at Kent State University in 1970, running a fictional candidate named Herbie Schwartz for the student council elections (Herbie won, so a couple of us were forced to serve by the crypto-fascistic vice-principal, who called us “Marxist agitators”). And so on.

Growing up in Calgary, Alberta, in the seventies, I was (not entirely surprisingly) unlike many of my peers. To me, a weekend spent smoking dope and listening to Led Zep on headphones was a wasted forty-eight hours. If I was going to irritate my teachers and like-minded authority figures, there had to be a better way.

As things turned out, all of us in the NCNA loved nasty, gnarly rock ’n’ roll – the raw stuff generated by early Who, Kinks and Stones (I had a soft spot for John Lennon’s Beatles contributions, too). One of the guys got a guitar, then another guy got a bass, and then we met a guy in the Calgary Stampede Band who had a drum kit. So we decided to form a band, which we called the Social Blemishes. I was the lead screamer, but not the only one. Anyone who had a case of beer to contribute could commandeer the microphone for a while.

The Blems weren’t actually a punk band at the start. Generally, we wrote songs that attacked people we didn’t like, which meant we had lots of subject matter. And, while we wrote our own songs, it wasn’t because we cherished creativity or anything like that; mostly, it was because we were too musically incompetent to figure out how to copy anyone else’s stuff.

Along with my pals, Ras Pierre Schenk, Alan “Flesh” Macdonald and assorted other acne-afflicted miscreants who attended Bishop Carroll and Bishop Grandin high schools, I had read a little bit about punk rock in the Calgary newspapers. In the main, it seemed to involve throwing up on old ladies in airport waiting rooms, as the Sex Pistols were alleged to have done. That sounded pretty good to us, so we decided that the Social Blemishes was a punk band.

On January 28, 1977, I bought a copy of the first album by the Ramones, and – later that same day – I stood slack-jawed by my tinny hi-fi in my basement bedroom, my life forever transformed. Nothing would be the same after that.

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Metal on Ice

Metal on Ice

Tales from Canada's Hard Rock and Heavy Metal Heroes
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

A musical genre as tough and hard as the Canadian Shield.

Canada has produced many successful proponents of the genre known as heavy metal, which grew out of the hard rock of the 1970s, exploded commercially in the 1980s, and then petered out in the 1990s as grunge took over, only to rise to prominence once again in the new millennium.

The road to Canadian musical glory is not lined with the palm trees and top-down convertibles of the Sunset Strip. It is a road slick with black ice, obscured by …

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Mount Royal

Mount Royal

A Novel
edition:Paperback
tagged : urban life

A wildly entertaining roller-coaster ride, this novel combines ferociously clever slapstick, frenetic satire, and extremely sizzling love scenes to expose a turbulent 1980s Montreal. While following petty thief, drug dealer, and ladies' man, Johnny, as he explores his sexuality and unearths political cover-ups, this complex narrative examines issues of sexual power and individual identity, the nature of bureaucratic tyranny and political control, and the effect of history on us all. Concluding w …

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Bottle Rocket Hearts

Bottle Rocket Hearts

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

Welcome to ’90s Montreal. It’s been five years since the OKA crisis and the sex garage riots; the queers are rioting against assimilation, cocktail AIDS drugs are starting to work, and the city walls on either side of the Main are spray-painted with the words YES or NO. Revolution seems possible to eighteen-year-old Eve, who is pining to get out of her parent’s house in Dorval and find a girl who wants to kiss her back. She meets Della: ten years older, mysterious, defiantly non-monogamous …

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Not Your Ordinary Wolf Girl

Not Your Ordinary Wolf Girl

edition:Hardcover

Eighteen-year-old rock star Sam Lee isn’t like other girls. She’s the super-talented bass player and songwriter for an all-girl indie band and an incurable loner. Then one night after a concert in Central Park, she’s attacked by a “wild dog.”

 

Suddenly, this long-time vegetarian is craving meat—the bloodier, the better. Sam finds herself with an unbelievable secret and no one she trusts to share it with. So begin the endless lies to cover up the hairy truth.

 

When a new girl gang app …

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Portrait of a Thousand Punks /tp

Hard Core Logo
edition:Paperback
tagged : literary

Wildly talented Canadian comix illustrator Nick Craine skilfully renders his own unique cover-version of the already cult-classic Hard Core Logo in images. A must-have for all Hard Core fans and comix aficionados.

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