If you buy and/or read only one book this year (or the next), I urge you to make it A Walk Across Dirty Water and Straight Into Murderer's Row: A Memoir by Eugene S. Robinson, the punk lifer who has been in such bands as Whipping Boy, Oxbow, and Black Face.
This book really has it all, including lots of behind the scenes, never before revealed bits of Hardcore history.
From exchanging weightlifting tips with Black Flag-era Henry Rollins to arguing with Ian MacKaye about gig money and that song (read the book), you will be enlightened and entertained. And possibly a little terrified.
But it's more than just hardcore history, a lot more. Ever been lured outside with the promise of untold adventure by a band of armed suburban red neck homicidal pre-teens, who subsequently inform you you’re about to die?
Well, Eugene has, and he was 5-years-old at the time.
Spoiler alert: he made it out alive, if a little bit scathed.
Lots of things that I figured out much later in life Eugene had pegged when he was a teenager, or in some cases when he was 8 or 9 years old. For one, when it comes to fighting it’s not just knowing how to engage in that particular activity, it’s knowing when that really matters. Kenny Rogers for the next generation.
By the time he was a teenager this dude was going to CBGBs and Studio 54, he had all his bases covered. In case you're unfamiliar, Eugene has been a purveyor of Un-EZ listening music with his bands Whipping Boy, Oxbow, Buñuel, etc. since the early 1980s.
In terms of his music, the book mostly deals with the formation and subsequent recording and touring activities of Whipping Boy and doesn't get into his later bands too much. Perhaps Book II will delve further into his musical career, we'll have to wait and see.
From 1960s Brooklyn to 1980s California and beyond (and back), Eugene’s story is the definition of, “Those were different times." I don’t want to give away too many details from the book but one thing I will say is: remember kids, if you move to California you are going to pierce your ears and get tattoos, so keep that in mind.
I have a lot of unanswered questions, so hopefully there’s a part two!
- Amazon (paperback)