Punk House, Interiors in Anarchy (yes, that is really the title) landed in my mailbox last week. A thick, photographic tome featuring images by Abby Banks and a rather awkward introduction by Thurston “I never lived in a punk house, I never even heard of them until the mid-1980s.” Moore, makes me wonder if some coffee table books should be left unpublished. Banks traveled the country to some fifty squats, warehouses, and communal houses. Her photographs reveal what you would expect: crusty couches, milk crates stacked with mix tapes, compost bins, stenciled grafitti, a few pierced and patched-together denizens (the guy in the Jawbreaker t-shirt wins my heart), and scrawled flyers tacked to the walls in the spirit on one of my favorite books, Fucked Up and Photocopied, from which this volume certainly draws inspiration, if not market share.
Like Thurston, I’ve never lived in a “punk house,” and since my participation punk culture in generally is more about the zines and the music, rather than full blown peacocking or lifestyle, I am not sure I have much right to feel any indignation about the packaging of said subculture. In fact, I am not sure I even feel any indignation, this kind of commodification goes back to punks roots, like it or not. So why are my panties in a twist? I guess it is because I feel like Aaron Cometbus definitively captured punk houses with Double Duce. Meticulously handwritten, the pages spark with punk rock ethos, caffeine-fueled mishaps, and love-live-loss introspection as Cometbus tells his fictionalized biography of a flop in Berkeley. The narrative offers a better glimpse of these “anarchist interiors” than any shot of a dirty bathroom stained with hair dye.