Three Punks and the Truth

Todd Taylor, welcome to the wonderful world of good hygiene.

"I'm used to hanging out with people that don't shower and don't shave," says Taylor, author of the punk rock homage Born to Rock, and the featured reader at the DIY ("doing it yourself") Punk Rock Reading Monday, April 19, at Eastside Records in Tempe. "So, that's been a nice thing on this punk reading tour -- people who smell good."

The pleasant aroma has been a refreshing change for Taylor, as he and his fellow punk rock scribes have been touring the country's bookstores and record stores for the past few months in support of Born to Rock -- and the counterculture that inspired the book. Taylor says he's been somewhat surprised by the eclectic demography of the audiences that have come out to hear the literature he says "helped save [his] life."

"There are 7- and 8-year-old kids there. There are people in their 60s and 70s. And then there's this real arty crowd that I'm not really used to," says Taylor, who lives in East L.A., but earned his graduate degree in literature from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. "It definitely validates to me that punk rock is an appreciated art form. Which is nice, because, too often, I think punk rock ghettoizes itself when it doesn't have to."

Some of Taylor's more colorful essays include the story of Hot Water Music's Chris Wollard's first childhood guitar, which he unwrapped and immediately smashed to the ground, "because that's what he saw on TV," Taylor says. And then there's the excerpted interview from Thrasher magazine in which tiltWheel's Davey reveals that he chose punk rock over enrolling in clown school while sitting on the toilet.

But the content of Monday's Eastside reading isn't limited to Taylor's experiences living and covering the punk rock life for Thrasher and Razorcake magazines. Mike Faloon, who edits Go Metric! and Zisk magazines, will read, as will ASU grad student/professor and skateboarder Wez Lundry, who publishes his own punk magazine, Pool Dust.

"Punk rock is more than going to shows and drinking under bridges," says Lundry, who will read from an anthology of skateboarding writing he published in the most recent issue of Pool Dust. "Thanks to a rise in the stuff that's been coming out in the last couple of years, I think this rebirth of punk literature is helping to diminish that perception."

Taylor hopes to break the stereotype on a more personal level when he visits his hometown of Boulder City, Nevada, next month, where he'll read portions of Born to Rock at the Boulder City library.

"I can't wait to show the librarian that was there when I was a kid that, yeah, I'm a punk rocker," Taylor says, "but I'm not a fuckup.

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Joe Watson