Have You Hugged a Punk Today?

Fury's Hour : a (sort-of) punk manifesto by Warren Kinsella

A manifesto is a declaration of principles, usually of a political nature. And Kinsella, who still plays in a punk band when not busy being a (Toronto) lawyer and politico, writes this manifesto to discover what punk was, what it is, it's future, and where he and the other old farts fit in, since punk was founded in part on the principle that you can't trust anyone over thirty.

Kinsella talking about punk music is a lot like Nick Hornby talking about alt rock - the songs and musicians are described in relation to their audience and his experiences of them (like meeting Joe f**king Strummer), and the direct influence they (their music and personalities) had on all those angry punk kids.

But Kinsella brings more to the table than music nerd angst - because punk isn't just about being pissed at mom and dad, it's about being pissed at 'the man' and 'the system' and everything little thing wrong with the world, and it's about shouting until something gets done. His history of punk music is tied to the history of punk as a movement and a political ethic, springing from class and race conflict as well as aggravation with the bland meaninglessness of top-forty hits.

A lot of young punks these days come in bass-ackwards - getting to the Ramones and the Clash after listening to Green Day and wondering why they like Blink-182 so much. Kinsella wonders if punk has now been entirely co-opted by capitalism, if all of the rebellion has been reduced to clever slogans on tee-shirts and over-produced three-chord songs. In interviews with everyone from Johnny Rotten to Good Charlotte, the evolution of punk is considered, focusing mostly on where it goes from here, if it still even truly exists.

Perhaps the most unusual assertion Kinsella adopts is punk's ultimate optimism and hope. In discussing the musical and political roots of punk and his own personal response to it's ethic and aesthetic, he infuses the reader with the same enthusiasm.

I enjoyed reading Fury's Hour immensely - Kinsella's inclusive conversational style avoids music journalism snobbery and his passion for the subject matter is contagious. Kinsella urges the reader to embrace their inner punk, to get out and do something. Now all I need is a guitar.

(An additional bonus - reading the advance copy while on vacation really confused my grandparents)

Fury's Hour is published by Random House and will be released in August, in paperback, for $27.00

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