Joe Carducci.
Enter Naomi: SST, L.A., and All That...

2007

William Gillespie

What I want people to know about Black Flag is this: despite music that on the surface seems aggressive and nihilistic, and despite a reputation (unfortunately glorified by certain observers) for violent concerts, the band was idealistic. Idealistic in a way beyond what is appropriate for a rock band, much less a hardcore punk rock band. Idealistic, determined, unflagging, and even, dare I say, professional.

Not much about all that in this book though.

Enter Naomi is ostensibly the story of punk rock photographer angel Naomi Peterson, but the digressional, anecdotal, personal, diary style of the prose seems to rarely touch upon its subject. I am still not sure how she died, and the author apparently did not interview her husband nor family. What we get is an involuted flavor of the narcissism of the southern California hardcore punk milieu . As few histories of this scene exists, this book carries an unfortunate burden it cannot live up to: that of documenting the idealism.

There’s a lot of information about the author’s friends and colleagues, but these characters¬† tend not to be properly introduced, vividly portrayed, or add up to anything. In other words, if you know the players, this book could provide a useful reference to certain evaporating gossip for those who were there. But for the rest of us, it is a reminder that we were not.

With this tribute, I can’t decide whether Carducci has honored Peterson or committed the unfortunate (he would agree) act of rendering her forever a female sidekick to the important people with names like Spot, Mugger, and Henry Rollins.

To be fair, the writing style, at its best, is rock solid and razor sharp. The book is far more intelligent, scholarly,  and typo-free than one might expect. Unfortunately for me, the book defied all expectations, including hopeful ones. There but for a merciless editor.

 

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