Friday, 18 January 2013

Gabriel Kuhn - 'Sober Living for the Revolution' review



Gabriel Kuhn - 'Sober Living for the Revolution' - PM Press
300 pages

I've never been too fussed about reading up on Straight Edge as a scene or movement; I've always just lived that way because it's what worked for me on a very personal level, however I thought I'd give this a blast, mostly out of curiosity. So what we have here is a collection of interviews and writing from a number of figures with varying degress of involvement with SxE over the years, including the 'founder' himself, Ian MacKaye. There were a couple of traps that 'Edge: The Movie' fell into that I'm glad weren't present here, these being a.) very North-American oriented coverage, and b.) largely male-oriented coverage. In contrast, this book is very heavy on the European side (including ManLiftingBanner, and Dennis from Refused), and features a number of women doing positive things (xSisterhoodx and Emancypunx Records) in what, along with hardcore in general, can often be seen or regarded as quite a masculine scene, so that was awesome to see. Admittedly I must agree with the review I saw of this in Maximum RockNRoll 336, in that the pieces by Nick Riotfag, one on queer culture within Straight Edge, and the piece 'Towards a Less Fucked-Up World' were two of the most interesting reads in the whole book. The interview with MacKaye was actually one of my favourite bits too, if only because it's always funny to hear him discuss how disproportionate the Edge scene became with regards to his initial, personal contribution. On the whole though, aside from a couple of rare exceptions (Point of No Return's 'Bending to Stay Straight' I found incredibly and unnecessarily long-winded), this is a pretty concise and informative collection of Straight Edge history, equally of use to those unfamiliar and educated alike. It's also printed on a nice off-white paper... (Lee)