Friday, July 20, 2007

Douglas Wolk

Douglas Wolk is a pop culture critic. He writes about comic books and he even has a new book of essays out about them called Reading Comics. He also did an ultra cool 33 1/3 book on James Brown Live at the Apollo. I met him at CMJ when I was in Nerdy Girl. We hit it off, and Douglas used to send his friends the COOLEST mix tapes. He really just knows music. And it was cool when in my new incarnation as comic book writer, he came back into my life again!

So I am delighted to share with you Douglas and his very multimedia essential punk!

Thanks, old buddy!

X-Ray Spex: I Am a Poseur (no embedded version available)
Poly Styrene was way, way ahead of her time--angry, funny, smart, really loud, and a better lyricist than almost anyone ever. X-Ray Spex basically self-destructed after one album, Germ Free Adolescents, but everything on it is great. Also see the intro to their first single (which I notice is perched at the top of your iMix, Cecil): Polly announcing "Some people think little girls should be seen and not heard, but I think--OH BONDAGE! UP YOURS! ONE TWO THREE FOUR!"

The Raincoats: Fairytale in the Supermarket

Raincoats bassist Gina Birch's original video for their first single--I had no idea this even existed. In a way, it's too bad that YouTube's compression makes Vicky Aspinall's violin sound like squeaky crud. In another way, that's not so bad: the Raincoats were never as cranked-up as their scenemates, but the most punk thing about them is the way they lunge at you to catch your attention--"listen to me, damn it, LISTEN to me!"

Devo: Uncontrollable Urge

A live version that's way too quiet--crank it up, please--but it gets across the two big things about Devo that get lost by reducing them to, like, "Whip It": 1) The point of the band was that they felt totally, profoundly, agonizingly alienated from mainstream culture, and from the pre-packaged way they were supposed to experience reality and emotion. 2) They were freaking hilarious.

Wire: Another the Letter/The 15th

A live 1979 performance of two songs from the German TV show Rockpalast, by the band I probably listened to more than any other in my late teens. "Another the Letter" is the great one here, stripping the already-pretty-minimal studio recording down to a one-chord rocket-blast. I'm pretty fond of the way that the four of them, even on stage, look and sometimes sound like they're in totally different bands...

Flying Lizards: Money

Punk as prank, or rather as getting into the "normal" way of doing something and eating it whole, from the inside. You can also read that as "not even trying to do anything right," if you like. The self-titled Flying Lizards album (on which this appears), by the way, is fantastic and mostly nothing at all like "Money"; it can be found in used record stores everywhere, thanks to having been bought by people who thought the rest of it would be more like this.

The Clean: Tally Ho

The greatest band in the history of New Zealand. This was their first single; they still get together every five years or so for a tour, and miraculously keep getting better over time. Here's what they sound like now...

Delta 5: Mind Your Own Business (no embedded version available, and actually I think this is somebody's homemade clip)
One of the most perfect songs ever written: a loping loop of a groove, eight flawlessly indignant lines, a neatly affectless unison-then-not vocal, and two guitar breaks that are pure spattering havoc.

The Fall: Totally Wired (live)

The band that will outlast us all, live in New York in 1981, monomaniacal flame-jets in their eyes, on the verge of falling apart, even though they're mostly just hammering away at one note. I love Mark E. Smith's top-of-the-dome spasm of obscenity two minutes or so into this clip... trying to keep track of the Fall's enormous discography and still-ongoing career can be exhausting, but the 1979-1982 period is pretty impeccable.

Melt-Banana: Monkey Man

Oh, right, the other thing about punk rock? It's fast a lot of the time. This is somebody's ridiculous homemade video for the phenomenal Japanese hardcore band Melt-Banana's cover of Toots & the Maytals' "Monkey Man"; I'm sure there exist faster songs and recordings, but Melt-Banana give the impression that they're actually playing so fast they can't stop.

The Thermals: No Culture Icons

You can argue that all punk is about punk--I don't think so, but this is, for sure: the Thermals' first single, it's also their manifesto, a declaration of what they demand and what they're rejecting. Low-fi, low-tech, high-minded in a really good way--a testament to what punk rock is good for in the 21st century. And one of my favorite things about living in Portland is getting to see them play a lot.

many thanks, & I hope you'

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Ed Brubaker

Ed Brubaker writes comics. You may know Ed from his stint on Captain America, which had a lot of press when issue #25 came out. He's written Uncanny X-men, Catwoman and The Authority just to name a few other titles. But I know him and I love him because he wrote a monthly series called The Deadenders that made me long to write comic books because it was so YA. When Shelly Bond called me to ask if I was interested in maybe writing a graphic novel, I told her that one of my fave Vertigo titles was The Deadenders. Turns out Shelly edited that.

The Deadenders is where it's at. Go get it.

So, flash forward to my new life in comics and color me so excited when I got to meet Ed at Wizard World LA. Everyone else in line had their copy of Captain America Issue #25 in their hands to get autographed, but me, I had my copy of The Deadenders.

Ed was kind enough to give me not only his punk list, but his YA list, too.

Because he rules.

Cecil -

Here's my list, but this is all off the top of my head, and could change tomorrow. I think these are the ones that made me care back then, though:

The Once Over Twice - X

Away From the Numbers (I know it's the ballad, shut up it's still punk) - The Jam

Courage - Minutemen

Celebrated Summer - Husker Du

I'm So Bored With the USA - The Clash

I Wanna Be Sedated - Ramones

Beverly Hills - the Circle Jerks

Look at the Rain - Meat Puppets (this is more from their post-punk era, but it's a punk song)

I Love Livin' in the City - Fear

I still like most of those songs, I think.

Here's my top ten YA books, which is easier:

Nobody's Family is Going to Change - Louise Fitzhugh

Great Brain at the Academy - John D. Fitzgerald

You Must Kiss a Whale - David Skinner

The Farthest Shore - Ursula K. LeGuin

The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death - Daniel Pinkwater

Young Adult Novel - Daniel Pinkwater

The Egypt Game - Zilpha Keatley Snyder

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiler -- E.L. Konigsburg

The Long Secret - Louise Fitzhugh

Harriet the Spy - Louise Fitzhugh

Friday, May 25, 2007

Simmone Howell

Simmone is from down under, we've never met, but she wrote the YA novel Notes From The Teenage Underground. I liked it so much, I blurbed it. I said ""Notes From The Teenage Underground is a refreshingly honest, straight-to-the-heart story of a girl finding her own artistic vision. This is like a primer for any teen that is serious about doing art."

She gives us her Punk essentials Aussie style!

Oz punk ish
(or songs that made me lose it when I was young and wore too much eyeliner)


shivers - boys next door

Immortal first line: I've been contemplating suicide ...

jack the ripper - nick cave & the bad seeds

This is all stomp and primal: I got a wooooman she rules my house with an iron fist she screams out jack the ripper everytime I try to give the girl a kisss)

true love - marching girls

First found on the Dogs in Space soundtrack. Awww, cute.

aloha steve and danno - radio birdman

Rob Younger - knows how to pony

she's crackin' up - cosmic psychos

she's a dish - hard ons

my pal - god

My friends and I were in awe of joel silbersher who was only 16 when he was in God. Wikipedia says he is "like history, short and violent"

slave girl - lime spiders

(I'm) stranded - the saints

psycho - beasts of bourbon
(Tex Perkins! He's still got it!)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Brian Wood

Brian Wood is my new friend, but he feels like an old friend. I met him last year at the San Diego Comic Con at the Vertigo / Minx family dinner. I felt Brian was a kindred spirit from the get go and it was confirmed to me the next night when I went by myself to the bar to hang out, only I didn't know anyone in the comic book community yet, and so I was feeling shy and lonely and stupid. Basically, I was pretty much hugging the wall, sipping my beer, and not talking to anyone, just like a wall flower, when Brian walked up and rescued me from myself by introducing me around.

He writes great comic books, DMZ is simply astounding. Demo is so great that it was named an ALA Great Graphic Novels For Teens and a NY Public Library Book for the Teen Age. And he also has Supermarket. His next series, Northlanders, is about Vikings, so I already know, sight unseen, that I'm going to be ga ga over it.

Other things I know and like about Brian Wood:

He's got the nicest, coolest & cutest family.

He designs the best t-shirts.

And, more importantly, he has great taste in music.


my top 10, avoiding the obvious ones already listed:

Transmetropolitan by The Pogues
Sacred Love by Bad Brains
Clampdown by The Clash
Blueprint by Fugazi
America by Sick Of It All
How To Start a Fight by Murphy's Law
Rebel Girl by Bikini Kill
Slip It In by Black Flag
Blank Generation by Richard Hell
Good Guys Don't Wear White by Minor Threat

here's a pic of me and brian at NY Comic Con

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Tuesday, May 8, 2007

BEIGE is out today!

Learn a little bit about Beige and why I wrote it!

Monday, May 7, 2007

Holly Black

How do I love Holly Black? Let me count the ways... she's fantastical, she writes exquisite books ( Tithe, Valiant, Ironside, The Spiderwick Chronicles, ) she likes coffee, she has a great laugh, she's smart as hell, and I adore her. She is a little Goth, a little Punk and more than a little bit awesome.

She even liked BEIGE so much, she blurbed it. She said, "Subversive and raw and surprising."

I love her list. I'm cranking it to 10 right now.


Here are my essential ten punk songs. Okay, I was a little liberal with my definition of punk, but I hope they will do.

Love, Holly

1. Whip in My Valise - Adam Ant
2. Clash City Rockers - The Clash
3. Teenage Lobotomy - Ramones
4. The Killing Jar - Siouxsie and the Banshees
5. The Man Who Sold The World - David Bowie
6. God Save The Queen - Sex Pistols
7. California Uber Alles - Dead Kennedys
8. Shadow Play - Joy Division
9. I Want to be Your Dog - The Stooges
10. Waiting for the Man - Velvet Underground

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

KL Going

KL going and I have met briefly, twice. We are both tiny little ladies with books that have the love of rock in them. So I thought I'd email her and ask her if she had a list. KL kindly pointed me out to her soundtrack for her awesome book Fat Kid Rules The World.

She says Hey Cecil... This is the perfect question for me to answer because I didn't know a lot about punk before I wrote Fat Kid. My discovery of it was partly what sparked the idea for the novel. I was like, hey this is so cool I need to write about it! So, punk primer I can definitely do. I came up with a soundtrack list for Fat Kid which I posted on my web site. I'd still choose most of those, maybe a few different ones less related to that book.

Behold her kick ass list!!!!

Fat Kid Rules the World Soundtrack

1) The Stooges - Search and Destroy
2) The Sex Pistols - Pretty Vacant
3) The Ramones - Outsider *
4) The Buzzcocks - What do I Get?
5) Beatles - Yellow Submarine **
6) Lou Reed - Perfect Day ***
7) Nirvana - Come As You Are
8) The Fall - Totally Wired
9) The Urinals - Ack, Ack, Ack, Ack
10) Nirvana - Pennyroyal Tea
11) The Eyeliners - Party Till the Break of Dawn
12) The Clash - White Riot
13) Iggy Pop - I Got a Right ****

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Michael Ian Black

When I had to drop out of NYU when I was 18, it was a real heartbreaker. I came back once to visit a few months after I'd left. All my good friends were busy living their fabulous dorm lives without me, so I stopped by Michael Ian Black's room, cause we were pals in a comedy sketch group called The New Group together (with Showalter) and he was fun to pal araound with. We had one of the best conversations that you could have in college, you know, about life, the universe and everything, and I really appreciated it and his perspective on everything. Flash forward to a million years later and Black is kicking butt and taking names and being funny as hell (as always) all over the place. He's also poised to join the kid lit ranks with an upcoming picture book, and you can bet your sweet ass that it's going to be terrific.

I give you, Michael Ian Black's punk mix. Go and get it.

Music you want, eh? Alright, I'm rifling through my brain here trying to come up with something decent for you.

Essential punk list:

I'm going to start with the obvious, but I don't see how you can have an essential punk mix without:

1."God Save the Queen," the Sex Pistols.

From there, you should probably skip across the ocean and include:

2. Anything by the Ramones. They're all pretty much the same song, so you can just pick one and listen to it for two and a half minutes, which is most likely longer than the actual song.

Now you've got your seminal British and American punk bands covered. Now I think you want to skip ahead a few years and head west to California for a little Black Flag. I suggest

3. "TV Party," by Black Flag. It's angry and loud and catchy and features a very young Henry Rollins

If you want to go to the other extreme of punk, but stay in the same geographical location, check out

4. I'm Not a Loser" by the Descendents. There is no Green Day without these guys.

Back on the East Coast, Washington D.C. was kicking out the punk rock jams. Who can forget:

5. "I Don't Wanna Hear It" by Minor Threat. Vintage D.C. punk, which gave birth to:

6. Fugazi, who epitomized the whole "never sell out" D.I.Y. spirit of punk rock. Their album "13 Songs," is one of my favorites of all time. They are not, however, my favorite band. That honor belongs to:

7. Husker Du. Minneapolis based thrash trio, who imploded in the early 90's after releasing a ton of great music. A lot of aficionados love their early work: "Land Speed Record," "Metal Circus," and especially "Zen Arcade." But my favorite album is "Candy Apple Grey," which was their first major label release, and the beginning of the end for the band. Most punk rock song on that album? The opening track, "Crystal."

For just obnoxious political punk, you might want to check out

8. "California Uber Alles" by the Dead Kennedys. A good band with an even better name and an even better named frontman: Jello Biafra.

Two bands with still better punk names: The Circle Jerks (best song: "Wonderful") and the Day-Glo Abortions (I can't remember any of their songs, but the name really sticks with you.)


Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Francesca Lia Block

Francesca Lia Block is a legend in the YA world. Her books are lyrical punk magical fairy tales and they all ooze Los Angeles, Music and Cool.

Dear Cecil

revised. i saw your list and my yoga teacher played dancing barefoot for sun salutes today
sometimes i think of patti as almost pre-punk goddess of it all so i left her out. wrong.


I present to you all the swell put your top down and drive down the highway with your iPod blasting list of the amazing Francesca Lia Block.

x by los angeles
wild in the streets by the circle jerks
sheena is a punk rocker by the ramones
creatures by the adolescents
goo goo much by the cramps
we got the beat by the go-go's (original superfast version --not on cd)
new york new york by nina hagen
secret agent man by agent orange
dancing barefoot by patti smith
lust for life by iggy pop

Friday, March 9, 2007

Santiago Durango

For this blog I've been asking my most kick-ass punk friends. Julia Durango is punker than she thinks. Also she has punk sons. And a punk ex. She is the fabulous picture book author of such great books as
Cha Cha Chimps
, Yum! Yuk!, Dream Hop and Pest Fest. She also is a member of the blog Three Silly Chicks.

When I asked for her list she wrote me this:

Miss Cecil. I hope you don't mind that I asked my ex-husband, Santiago Durango, to make a list for you (since my essential punk list would have contained 10 Clash songs, which seemed much too boring for your purposes).

Here are some wikipedia links about him and his bands (cult faves here in Chicago during the 80's):

Santiago Durango
Big Black
Naked Raygun

These days Santiago spends most of his time being a very good father and trying to impart solid Punk Rock values to his (and my) sons. I believe he is doing an admirable job.


So without further ado, the fabulous list of Santiago Durango.

Ye Ole Skool Punk.

1. "Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue" and "Beat on the Brat" by the Ramones.

2. "Anarchy in the UK" "God Save the Queen" and "Pretty Vacant" by the Sex Pistols.

3. "Stab Your Back" "New Rose" and "Neat, Neat, Neat" by the Damned.

4. "White Riot" and "London’s Burning" by the Clash.

5. "Boredom" and everything else ever released by the Buzzcocks.

6. "Oh Bondage, Up Yours" by X-Ray Spex.

7. "Grip" and "No More Heroes" by the Stranglers.

8. "In the Sun" by Blondie.

9. "Sonic Reducer" by the Dead Boys.

10. "Born to Lose" Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers.

11. "Walked In Line" and "Love Will Tear Us Apart" by Joy Division.

12. "Don’t Dictate" by Penetration.

13. "We Are The One" by the Avengers.

14. "Do Anything You Want To Do" by Eddie and the Hot Rods.

15. "Child Star" by the Diodes.

16. "Hate Breeders" by the Misfits.

17. "Pay to Cum" by the Bad Brains.

18. "Pogo Dancing" and "Into The Future" by the Vibrators.

19. "Blank Generation" by the Voidoids.

20. "Mannequin" and "Dot Dash" by Wire.

21. "Warhead" and "Stranglehold" by the UK Subs.

22. "Bad Man" by the Cockney Rejects.

23. "Jealous Again" and "Nervous Breakdown" by Black Flag.

24. "Ice Ice Baby" by Vanilla Ice (wake up!).

I’ve gone way over. This list doesn’t begin to do justice to all of the great early punk music. Sue me.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Holly Ramos

If there was a vote for a Queen of the NYC punk scene, pretty much I'd vote for her. She's so cool, she's got the best fashion sense, as in, she's a trend setter. She's a musician who's recorded with the best, has some pretty amazing stories and all around I'm pretty stoked she even knows my name.

10 essential punk songs by Holly Ramos
singer/song writer
former front woman of FUR
former dj of legendary punk rock and roll dance party greendoornyc (vinyl only).

Cecil, i am a purist. in my mind, punk was a very specific sound for a limited time.

1. oh bondage up yours, x-ray spex
2. piss factory, patti smith
3. x-offender, blondie
4. 20th century boy, siouxie and the banshees
5. so messed up, the damed
6. i need lunch, the dead boys
7. i love you, johnny thunders and the heartbreakers
8. kiss me deadly, generation x
9. 53rd & 3rd, ramones
10. another girl another planet, the only ones

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Michael Showalter

When I went to NYU, I joined a sketch comedy group started by Mo Willems. It got too big, so a couple of us branched off and started a New Group, and that is where I met the fabulous Michael Showalter. I remember vividly one rehearsal where he did a sketch that was a guy trying to impress a girl on a date to the supermarket produce section, where they lay in the aisle staring up at the veggies. You probably know him from his excellent turns in The State, Stella, Wet Hot American Summer and The Baxter.

He's brilliant, hysterical, multi-talented and if you've seen some of his comedy, you know that he is a big music lover.

I proudly Present Michael's list (and totally want to sit next to him at 5th period lunch)

(A very New Wave'y) Top Ten Punk Songs
by Michael Showalter

1. Wave Of Mutilation - The Pixies

2. 52 Girls - The B-52s

3. What's The Matter With You - Split Enz

4. Away From The Numbers - The Jam

5. Waiting Room - Fugazi

6. Gates of Steel - Devo

7. Straight To Hell - The Clash

8. TV Party - Black Flag

9. Watching The Detectives - Elvis Costello

10. Message In A Bottle - The Police

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Showalter please sit at my lunchtable

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Rachel Cohn

You and I know her as an excellent YA author of such books as Gingerbread, Shrimp and Cupcake and of course as the co-author of one of my fave books of 2006 - Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. Her list is a little funky-punky and I adore that!!! I am very glad to call her my funky friend.

Miss Rachel Cohn!

Hi Cecil –

I created an iMix for you. This is the text I used to describe the Beige mix:

I freely admit to totally being a poser when it comes to any true punk cred. I grew up in D.C, so I am all about the funk much more than the punk. I chose these tunes as a sort of primer on some funky tunes and artists I liked back in the day, with some political grooves thrown in there, too. (For some great punk/pop/thrasher - and everything in between - playlists created by teen readers, please check out the playlist creator on

Here’s the list:

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Jeff Abarta

When I first moved to Los Angeles, punk rock photographer Lisa Johnson and Tim Armstrong from Rancid helped me to get a job. That job was at Epitaph Records where I worked everywhere from the marketing department aka "The Green Room" to the mail room and then finally ended up as the temp publicist for a bunch of the bands. This is where I met the fabulous Jeff Abarta -A&R at Epitaph / Anti / Hellcat. He's cool as shit, made me feel right at home and was always fun to talk to.

Here's his swell list

Hey, Cecil:

Good luck with your novel!

This is by no means definitive, but here ya go:

Adolescents - Amoeba
Bad Religion - I Want To Conquer The World
Black Flag - My War
Born Against - Mount The Pavement
Crass - Big Man, Big M.A.N.
Dead Kennedys - Nazi Punks Fuck Off
Misfits - Where Eagles Dare
NOFX - Linoleum
Subhumans - From The Cradle To The Grave
Rudimentary Peni - Blasphemy Squad

Jeff (photo from 1988)

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Houston Sams - Stylist

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Houston Sams is a stylist. She's dressed the best and is cool as pie. I've spent many a punk rock holiday with her (Thanksgiving, Christmas, 4th of July) and had lovely times at Spaceland with her back in the indie rock days.

I've added the songs to the iMix with my suggestions for songs (in parenthesis) from her "anything by them" bands, but she's right, pretty much, you can't go wrong by adding anything by them to your mixes.
Big Black - "Kerosene"
Sonic Youth - " Schizophrenia"
Pixies - "Bone Machine"
Transplants - "Tall cans in the Air"

and anything by:

Fugazi - (Suggestion)
Helmet -(Unsung)
Dinosaur, Jr. -(Freak Scene)
Flaming Lips -(She Don't Use Jelly)
Guided By Voices - (I am a Tree)
Bad Religion -(American Dream)

Rock on, y'all!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Welcome! And Bienvenue!

Hello! My name is Cecil and I write books. My third novel is called BEIGE (Candlewick May 2007).

Anyway, in it a girl named Katy has to live with her punk rock drummer dad in silverlake and she hates music. In the book, a boy named Garth gives her a mix CD (you know what that means!) of a punk primer.

Since the book is about discovering your voice and also finding your inner punk and whatever that means to you, I thought it would be cool to ask my most musically inclined and punk ass cool peeps from all walks of life to give me what their ten essential punk songs for a mix tape would be.

There are some really amazing people giving me lists.

Now we can see how varied and wonderful an essential punk list is! Look! It's different for everyone! And we can all discover (or rediscover) some great songs.

I'll be posting the lists up on this blog. And I'll start with mine.

Cecil's Essential Punk Ladies to Have on Your iPod iMix is here

Patti Smith - Gloria: In Excelsis Deo
X-Ray Spex - Germ Free Adolescents
The Go-Go's - We Got the Beat
The Slits - Shoplifting
Lunachicks - Binge and Purge
L7 - Pretend We're Dead
Laurie Anderson - Walking and Falling
Blondie - Hanging On the Telephone
Siouxsie and The Banshees - Christine
The Pretenders - Tattooed Love Boys
The Runaways - Cherry Bomb
The Velvet Underground & Nico - All Tomorrow's Parties

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Cecil at 22