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MDC. Memoir From a Damaged Civilization. Stories of Punk, Fear and Redemption by Dave Dictor (Ma nicD Press)

DaveDictorbookDid you ever see The Decline of Western Civilization documentary? The first one?

Pretty uneven, isn’t it? And by god, there’s a lot of indifferent stuff in there. The Germs are horrible, but rather wonderful. Fear are also quite nasty, and funny, and wonderful. The rest … well, it’s kind of interesting. But Decline (Mk I) is not a film I readily return to.

Even so, because it captures a scene in a scattergun style, it’s significant. By no means was that every significant band. By no means known to man, woman or beast.

But when it first came out here in Australia (1984, I think) it made and confirmed a huge impact. The wave of US hardcore and secondary punk was finally breaking into our homes (well, not if you listened to mainstream radio and watched TV, granted. I mean, us in the alternative scene.

You remember that…) and gentle young souls with spiky hair, the right jeans and Doc Martens and leather motorcycle jackets with UK punk band names and patches all over them? (I was always reminded of my school exercise books when I was about 13; I figured I’d done that already, I didn’t need a jacket that reminded me of school.) When, in 1983, we tried to explain to these gentle souls that, you know, it was the American punk bands which were amazing, they were aggressively dismissive.

MDC's Dave Dictor and muscle on the take

mdc-2013
The smiling face of hardcore: MDC with Dave Dictor in yellow

Do I like hardcore? Er, not usually, no. Or punk? Well, no, not really. Very little of it grabs my attention or interest. I am particularly suspect of any band which declares themselves to be 'punk'; usually such outfits may be filed under 'rebel lite', possibly in an Elmer Fudd voice.

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