Punk Rock Explained


I have an admission to make. I’m one of those people who changes the subject whenever punk rock comes up. Don’t get me wrong. I like the music. But I refuse to memorize the name of the Sex Pistols’ first bassist, I don’t understand the difference between all the different sub-genres,  and I’m always hoping no one will notice how much of a poseur I am. Over at Jacket Copy, Nicholas Rombes answers many of the questions I didn’t know I had while publicizing his new book A Cultural Dictionary of Punk

For example, Rombes explains the differences between New York punk, British punk, and California hardcore: “The Ramones were suburban kids from Forest Hills who played CBGB’s. The Sex Pistols were really delinquents. I know there’s a class distinction there. California hardcore?  By the time you reach California, punk has been boiled down to its dark essence. California sort of becomes the final dark heart.”

It’s about time someone wrote a textbook on these things.

Seth Fischer’s writing has twice been listed as notable in The Best American Essays and has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize by several publications, including Guernica. He was the founding Sunday editor at The Rumpus and is the current nonfiction editor at The Nervous Breakdown. He is a Dornsife PhD Fellow at USC and been awarded fellowships and residencies by Ucross, Lambda Literary, Jentel, Ragdale, and elsewhere, and he teaches at the UCLA-Extension Writer’s Program and Antioch University, where he received his MFA. More from this author →