Punk kids today got it easy. Never had to deal with getting beat up because of their funny-colored hair. Never had to put up with just-for-the-hell-of-it harassment from the cops—hey, a lot of cops today were once punkers. So maybe that's part of the reason for screening Michael Bishop and Scott Jacoby's excellent documentary Rage: 20 Years of Punk Rock as part of the winter season program of UC Irvine's Film and Video Center: a history lesson for people who think living a punk rock lifestyle means spending an arduous afternoon watching Blink-182 videos on MTV. Bands like Blink, Green Day and the Offspring only exist and thrive these days thanks to the battles—literal blood-spewing battles—fought by the old, late 1970s/early '80s California punkers. Rage nicely documents this era via some vintage video footage, but it is centered mostly on latter-day interviews with such entertaining and articulate people as TSOL's Jack Grisham, who smartly pinpoints the relationship between the punk scene he was raised in and the gangsta rap that would conquer the world a decade later (he also laughs about huffing on Pam as a troublemaking nine-year-old); Duane Peters, who neatly sums up the origins of OC skate-punk with one sentence: "Before I heard the Ramones, all I had was Alice Cooper, and you can only skate to Alice Cooper so many years" (Duane also calls Gwen Stefani "the most annoying pile of shit I ever fucking heard"); Circle Jerk Keith Morris, who tries playing eloquent to the camera while sporting goofy plastic glasses, a fright wig and a stupid-looking hat; onetime Germs drummer Don Bolles (suffering here from some sort of bizarre facial-hair disaster), who proclaims that Darby Crash "had more charisma than Jesus"; and the Dead Kennedys' Jello Biafra—modeling his "DARE to keep kids out of church" T-shirt—who waxes about the San Francisco scene. As well-done as Rage is, it looks to get even better: Bishop is currently working on a DVD of his film that will include extra footage, as well as a soundtrack on which he hopes to include new songs by some of the film's interview subjects, proving that the art they're making today is just as fresh and creative as it was then. Regardless of what version you wind up catching, though, Rage is an important flick that captures a history worthy of proper preservation—a time that will certainly never be repeated, no matter how hard some people keep trying. It's not as formulaic and slick as Behind the Music, and that's why we love it.
RAGE: 20 YEARS OF PUNK ROCK SCREENS AT THE UC IRVINE FILM AND VIDEO CENTER, HUMANITIES INSTRUCTION BLDG., RM. 100, CAMPUS & W. PELTASON DRIVES, IRVINE, (949) 824-7418; WWW.HUMANITIES.UCI.EDU/FVC. THURS., MARCH 1, 7:30 P.M. $5.
Check out this week's featured ad for Entertainment