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Sober Living for the Revolution: Hardcore Punk, Straight Edge, and Radical Politics

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Examining the multigenerational impact of punk rock music, this international survey of the political-punk straight edge movement—which has persisted as a drug-free, hardcore subculture for more than 25 years—traces its history from 1980s Washington, DC, to today. Asserting that drugs are not necessarily rebellious and that not all rebels do them, the record also defies co Examining the multigenerational impact of punk rock music, this international survey of the political-punk straight edge movement—which has persisted as a drug-free, hardcore subculture for more than 25 years—traces its history from 1980s Washington, DC, to today. Asserting that drugs are not necessarily rebellious and that not all rebels do them, the record also defies common conceptions of straight edge's political legacy as being associated with self-righteous, macho posturing and conservative Puritanism. On the contrary, the movement has been linked to radical thought and action by the countless individuals, bands, and entire scenes profiled throughout the discussion. Lively and exhaustive, this dynamic overview includes contributions from famed straight edge punk rockers Ian MacKaye of Minor Threat and Fugazi, Dennis Lyxzén of Refused and the International Noise Conspiracy, and Andy Hurley of Fall Out Boy; legendary bands ManLiftingBanner and Point of No Return; radical collectives such as CrimethInc. and Alpine Anarchist Productions; and numerous other artists and activists dedicated as much to sober living as to the fight for a better world.


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Examining the multigenerational impact of punk rock music, this international survey of the political-punk straight edge movement—which has persisted as a drug-free, hardcore subculture for more than 25 years—traces its history from 1980s Washington, DC, to today. Asserting that drugs are not necessarily rebellious and that not all rebels do them, the record also defies co Examining the multigenerational impact of punk rock music, this international survey of the political-punk straight edge movement—which has persisted as a drug-free, hardcore subculture for more than 25 years—traces its history from 1980s Washington, DC, to today. Asserting that drugs are not necessarily rebellious and that not all rebels do them, the record also defies common conceptions of straight edge's political legacy as being associated with self-righteous, macho posturing and conservative Puritanism. On the contrary, the movement has been linked to radical thought and action by the countless individuals, bands, and entire scenes profiled throughout the discussion. Lively and exhaustive, this dynamic overview includes contributions from famed straight edge punk rockers Ian MacKaye of Minor Threat and Fugazi, Dennis Lyxzén of Refused and the International Noise Conspiracy, and Andy Hurley of Fall Out Boy; legendary bands ManLiftingBanner and Point of No Return; radical collectives such as CrimethInc. and Alpine Anarchist Productions; and numerous other artists and activists dedicated as much to sober living as to the fight for a better world.

30 review for Sober Living for the Revolution: Hardcore Punk, Straight Edge, and Radical Politics

  1. 5 out of 5

    Vera

    I really enjoyed some of the essays in this book, particularly those by Nick Riotfag, as well as Mark Andersen, Santiago Gomez and Jenni Ramme, as i really appreciated their analysis and contextualization of straightedge. Some of the other texts were a bit too focused on recalling events and mapping out a timeline, for my taste. Also, a lot of the texts give off the impression that sXe never was particularly meaningful and certainly isn't anymore today.. I really enjoyed some of the essays in this book, particularly those by Nick Riotfag, as well as Mark Andersen, Santiago Gomez and Jenni Ramme, as i really appreciated their analysis and contextualization of straightedge. Some of the other texts were a bit too focused on recalling events and mapping out a timeline, for my taste. Also, a lot of the texts give off the impression that sXe never was particularly meaningful and certainly isn't anymore today..

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ajeje Brazov

    Non riesco a credere ai miei occhi quando vedo il merchandising straight edge! E' da pazzi. (cit. Ian MacKaye) Gran libro pieno di riflessioni, impressioni, storia di vita vissuta, filosofia, di vita straight edge. Ma partiamo con ordine, premetto che a me le etichette di qualsiasi tipo mi fanno letteralmente schifo ed è anche un po' quello che dice Ian MacKaye, nel senso che sei hai idee straight edge, non vuole dire per forza tatuarsi la X, vestirsi con magliette ed altro delle band, o cazzate d Non riesco a credere ai miei occhi quando vedo il merchandising straight edge! E' da pazzi. (cit. Ian MacKaye) Gran libro pieno di riflessioni, impressioni, storia di vita vissuta, filosofia, di vita straight edge. Ma partiamo con ordine, premetto che a me le etichette di qualsiasi tipo mi fanno letteralmente schifo ed è anche un po' quello che dice Ian MacKaye, nel senso che sei hai idee straight edge, non vuole dire per forza tatuarsi la X, vestirsi con magliette ed altro delle band, o cazzate del genere. Lo straight edge è "nato" per un rifiuto di una parte del punk classico e cioè l'uso e abuso di alcol, sostanze stupefacenti e quant'altro che ti annebbi la mente, il pensiero, perchè la società capitalista è il vero male da combattere. E strafarsi e ubriacarsi fa solo il favore del sistema capitalista malato. Poi ci sono discorsi quali veganesimo, antiomofobia, diritti degli oppressi, libertà personali ecc... Tutti temi molto interessanti, che il mainstream lascia sempre un po' da parte. Devo ammettere che mi sarei aspettato un libro sulla storia dell'hardcore-punk con connotazione straight edge (che sinceramente conoscevo poco, perchè facente parte di una cultura molto di nicchia, ma internet sta aiutando molto, almeno nel mio caso). Ma questo non vuol dire che mi ha deluso, al contrario, mi ha sbalordito, perchè sì si citano molte band (e via di ricerca su internet), ma ci si sofferma di più sulla filosofia straight edge, con interviste, manifesti e fanzine dei vari protagonisti in giro per il mondo (purtroppo in questo è solo ristretto all'Europa, USA e Sud America), ma l'autore ha spiegato benissimo la sua motivazione di questa scelta e...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Topher

    An interesting exploration of straight edge - from its beginnings, glossing over (but not ignoring) the very conservative / reactionary period during the 90s, and into today. What does it mean to live sober? to be a straight edge? There is a strong focus on the political aspects, particularly liberal politics, and DIY culture.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Hudson Jr.

    An interesting dive into diverse perspectives on the relationship between straight edge and politics. It’s difficult to decipher an overall thesis and the wntire book might not be very interesting to people outside of straight edge or hardcore punk. But there’s a good amount of engaging interviews and reflections from people like Ian Mackaye, Refused, ManLiftingBanner, Mark Anderson, and others that general punk fans will get a lot out of.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Vince

    Took me awhile to read this (slightly over a year), but what a great book to spend time on. Reading the different essays has been interesting, nostalgic, and empowering. My favorite quote, on page 286, from Mark Andersen of Positive Force DC: “My revolution would look like each of us reaching towards the best of who we really are, while also looking out for and standing up for each other, past our many differences.” Forever Straight Edge. The revolution starts within.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    A quite comprehensive overwiew on the straight edge subculture. Some interesting points of view by protagonists of the straight edge punk movement in Sweden, US, Portugal, Brazil, Poland, and the Netherlands are put forward. It is not so much about the music but more about society and politics. The book is a quite a bit lengthy and repetitive, though.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nosmo

    Surprisingly engaging. I didn't expect myself to finish this given the narrow subject matter, but I found it to be full of fresh insight and powerful personal stories. The essays included throughout varied quite a bit, with some being a complete snooze and others being gripping and insistent (although the reflections on even the boring ones were still very interesting). Getting a variety of perspectives on hardcore, straight edge and politics is quite illuminating, and the book does a good job o Surprisingly engaging. I didn't expect myself to finish this given the narrow subject matter, but I found it to be full of fresh insight and powerful personal stories. The essays included throughout varied quite a bit, with some being a complete snooze and others being gripping and insistent (although the reflections on even the boring ones were still very interesting). Getting a variety of perspectives on hardcore, straight edge and politics is quite illuminating, and the book does a good job of showing several scenes and wisely avoids focusing on the US. The book is impressively honest in rendering its interviewees - on some occasions when the interviewer asks a question asking how radical politics and straight edge are linked, the interviewee will simply say a brusque "For me, they're not" and things will move on. As someone who isn't straight edge I still massively enjoyed the book, and only in one section did I find one of the interviewees to be preachy or childish about their choices. A lot of the ideas raised have given me reason to reconsider my own attitude and relationship to intoxicants.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Melita

    The writing in this book is wide ranging both in subject matter and in quality. On the bizarre side, Andy Hurley's piece was strange as he seemed to be arguing against engaging with maths and science at one point. In contrast, 'The Shape of Punk to Come' has a vitality that makes it worth a read. 'The Antifa Straight Edge' by XsaraqaelX is also worth your time. 'Towards a Less...' by Nick Riotfag is by far the best piece in the book. Everyone will get something out of it. The writing in this book is wide ranging both in subject matter and in quality. On the bizarre side, Andy Hurley's piece was strange as he seemed to be arguing against engaging with maths and science at one point. In contrast, 'The Shape of Punk to Come' has a vitality that makes it worth a read. 'The Antifa Straight Edge' by XsaraqaelX is also worth your time. 'Towards a Less...' by Nick Riotfag is by far the best piece in the book. Everyone will get something out of it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Artnoose McMoose

    I think of this as part of familiarizing myself with straight edge history that I missed out on because I wasn't straight edge back then, which is why I gave it four stars instead of three. For most people, I'd say it'll be a three-star read. This is a collection of essays and interviews explaining the intersections between straight edge and activism. Although I appreciate that the editor brought together many people to interview, I found a lot of things repetitive. I think of this as part of familiarizing myself with straight edge history that I missed out on because I wasn't straight edge back then, which is why I gave it four stars instead of three. For most people, I'd say it'll be a three-star read. This is a collection of essays and interviews explaining the intersections between straight edge and activism. Although I appreciate that the editor brought together many people to interview, I found a lot of things repetitive.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin

    This book gave me some new insights on straight edge I didn't read about before. Some parts were overlapping to me, but it's good to read about the political side of hardcore and sXe and how a lot of people use their sobriety for activism or to send out a positive message.\ Another thing I liked is how it covers something else than the violent male dominated part of the scene. Definitely worth reading and complementary to Ross Haenflers Straight Edge. This book gave me some new insights on straight edge I didn't read about before. Some parts were overlapping to me, but it's good to read about the political side of hardcore and sXe and how a lot of people use their sobriety for activism or to send out a positive message.\ Another thing I liked is how it covers something else than the violent male dominated part of the scene. Definitely worth reading and complementary to Ross Haenflers Straight Edge.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kelsey

    There are a lot of different perspectives presented in this book, which made it an interesting read for me. It did feel a little repetitive about 1/4-1/2 way through as multiple bands rehashed the "scene" surrounding the early 90s vegan sxe movement, but overall I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone looking for a basic overview of the politics/history that has helped define the sxe movement. There are a lot of different perspectives presented in this book, which made it an interesting read for me. It did feel a little repetitive about 1/4-1/2 way through as multiple bands rehashed the "scene" surrounding the early 90s vegan sxe movement, but overall I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone looking for a basic overview of the politics/history that has helped define the sxe movement.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rheuben Bundy

    an excellent look at the late nineties early millennium punk/hardcore vegan straight edge scene. Kuhn connects the movements in the scene at that time with the radical politics that rose up around SXE at that time. It is an excellent look at the other side of vegan straightedge that went largely unnoticed by the media, and tough guy hardcore that subsumed it.

  13. 5 out of 5

    wombat

    Read the essays by Nick Riotfag, Jonathan Pollack, Bull Gervasi, and Santiago Gomez. Skip the rest.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Donald

    This is a pretty mediocre book, but it was fun to see articles/interviews with people I know. The interview with Lucas is the best part of the book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kersplebedeb

    this is a unique study of the intersections of straight edge and progressive politics. recommended not only to straight edgers!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Larry-bob Roberts

    Just bought a copy at City Lights Books. The deciding factor for me was that it contains a couple pieces by straight edge queers.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Colin Spindler

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mike

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

  20. 4 out of 5

    Penny Organ

  21. 5 out of 5

    A

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nellie

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ilari

  24. 5 out of 5

    Hartwon

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ernie Martelo

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lolo Brown

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ian Callaghan

  28. 4 out of 5

    Corey

  29. 5 out of 5

    Erin

  30. 5 out of 5

    J. Harding

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