Over the PA system, Johnny Rotten, of the Sex Pistols, sings “please don’t be waiting for me” as the Weirdos get ready for the night’s performance. For the four main characters at the show, it’s a climactic moment. Months before, one of their own died during a similar concert and now, at this one, they think they’ve found her killer. Between then and now, Scott, Bridge, Benny and Micah uncover the mystery surrounding Nadya’s death catastrophe by catastrophe. First, they think the bigoted WPODS – who beat them up and vandalize their homes on a regular basis – are the culprits, but it turns out our teenage punk heroes are hated for more than their freakish clothes, dyed hair and makeup; Nadya’s murder is revenge for stolen drugs the dealers want back.
This second novel by Todd Stadtman is an insider’s take into the San Francisco/Berkeley punk scene in the early 1980s. With humor, wit and thriller action, he paints a sympathetic picture of a band of friends who back each other up and are supported by some of their parents, as well as very few police and other representatives of public institutions. Those who don’t support them can’t seem to ignore them either; they’re blamed and targeted, giving our protagonists reason to dole out heavy doses of “punk love.” With chapters that begin with great one-liners such as: “If you want to have fun, you have to make the run,” or “In the last two weeks, Scott had spent the night in a roadside ditch and a filthy Chinatown doorway,” we’re sure to want to read on, no matter how messy it might get.
In the end, the friends reach a tepid but workable bargain with the world, “accepting the world’s embrace [while]… forever mindful for its betrayals” (271). A coming-of-age story, it is “an artwork in process,” (271), an unforgettable experience that will continue to reverberate throughout their lives – and ours. Ironically, it reads not only as history, but as relevant to our current cultural landscape. The punks were scapegoats then; who are they now? book site