Commentary on Real Punks Don't Wear Black (100% of the reason for starting this journal is so that I can link this post to my MySpace page, since MySpace doesn't really provide a good place to put reviews).
"He writes as if he's dancing, fighting, killing time, and trying to change the world."
"He treats the New York Dolls as his favourite philosophers and Ludwig Wittgenstein as his favourite band." (This link is the same as the one above it; I just felt like pulling two quotes.)
"Probably the best non–Lester Bangs collected-music-writing book I've ever read."
"Frank Kogan's Real Punks Don't Wear Black is a devastatingly good book."
"Frank Kogan's writing changed my life."
"It's painful but it's awesome like an opossum and my teeth, I don't floss 'em."
"Kogan is the ultimate example of the critic as an artist."
"...using e-mails, diary excerpts, and chat-room postings to vividly memorialise that moment of high-school satori when Kogan realised 'I'm so obsessed with my own mind that I can't think of anything else.'"
"Kogan is piercingly intelligent without ever being pompous, pedantic, or inscrutable." If only this were true.
"References body parts in his reviews."
"Raunchy rap lyrics and free-floating expletives!"
"People should buy it and make Frank Kogan famous."
"looks amazing at a quick skim."
[EDIT: Here are another two raves:
"willing to be seduced by this silly woman"
"Don't even attempt to fuck with Real Punks Don't Wear Black"]
And for those of you who don't want to click the links, here's how the UGA Press summarizes them (the first four are blurbs, not summaries):
"If Frank Kogan had assembled his writing a decade ago, by samizdat or whatever, it would be a cornerstone by now, read by every current and former teenage malcontent."
--Luc Sante, author of Low Life: Lures and Snares of Old New York
"Doesn't this book at least partly fall into the 'academy is doomed/betrayed' genre (albeit way off on its own wing) vis-à-vis 'closing of the american mind'/'tenured radicals'? Certainly one of the questions it persistently seems to be asking is: 'what is college/knowledge for?' Obviously I think Frank Kogan's answer is a bit different from Allan Bloom's. Isn't it also about restoring the grand ambitions and claims for self of '60s rock-crit culture/counterculture: refusing to settle for a specialist niche, whether ivory-tower cultstud thinkage or leisure-industry enablage? (I am somewhat projecting my own dreams and hungers onto it for sure.)"
--Mark Sinker, author of if. . . . (BFI Film Classics) and The Rise and Sprawl of Horrible Noise
"Kogan is at his intellectual best when annoying academics like me. I would recommend this book to students and expect any self-defined 'popular music scholar' to have read it."
--Simon Frith, author of Performing Rites: On the Value of Popular Music
"Frank Kogan dares you not to listen to music in the context of your life. He knows that dare is impossible, and that in itself puts him head and shoulders above pretty much every other rock critic of the past couple decades. As do his tastes, which are impeccable, even though his format is the farthest thing from a consumer guide. As does the fact that he has more ideas worth stealing than anybody else writing about music; in fact, I kind of hate that this book is coming out, because now everyone will know where I stole all of mine. The book is a mess, full of trap doors, just like the music Frank likes best. He knows none of it is as simple as people pretend."
--Chuck Eddy, Village Voice music editor**, and author of The Accidental Evolution of Rock'N'Roll: A Misguided Tour through Popular Music and Stairway to Hell: The 500 Best Heavy Metal Albums in the Universe
"A devastatingly good book."
--Tom Ewing, Freaky Trigger
"to label Kogan a music journalist understates the philosophical and exploratory qualities of his verbiage ... He draws out pre-conceived notions and puts them under the microscope. It's in this process that Kogan truly shines as not just a critic of music, but of the culture at large ... The voice in his head spills out onto the printed page with both style and substance. Witnessing his words in action as they unfold is at once baffling and alluring"
"Kogan's autodidactic obsession with making a precise point reminds me a lot of the short stories of Woody Allen. With both writers, we are treated to large quantities of self-deprecation that result in humor which makes the traveling through discussions that might otherwise get dry a fascinating trip...an inspired look into the world of sounds we make and the attitudes of those who make them as well as the dances we do because of them."
--Denver Daily News
"Kogan - himself part of a distinguished lineage of committed contrarians which includes Richard Meltzer, Lester Bangs, and Chuck Eddy - laid the intellectual foundations for the 'Blogging' era with his interactive fanzine...this first collection of his work promises (and delivers)."
--The Independent (UK)
"Kogan is great, for instance, at explaining the dynamics of punk clubs: why the performers have to insult their audiences or else they're 'contaminated' by their acceptance. Unlike most music critics, Kogan's omnivorous, willing to consider music that makes him 'feel things that I don't want to feel, so I have to rethink who I am, where I place myself.'"
"Kogan's collection ... comes alive in his well-told reflections, where he examines when and how we define ourselves through choices in music. His rockin' auto-analysis shares a quality with his inspirer, Richard Meltzer, though Kogan straddles the line between the gonzo poet and the upper-crust of rock critdom"
"Kogan is piercingly intelligent without ever being pompous, pedantic or inscrutable ... Kogan is funny, perverse and contrarian without resorting to shtick or insincerity ... [Real Punks Don't Wear Black] never fails to be an illuminating and entertaining ride."
"the best writing needs to be as sharp, romantic, challenging and catchy as what it's trying to describe, but also willing to be as profane, stupid, noisy and contradictory. And that's why Kogan's brilliant, all-over-the-map collection Real Punks Don't Wear Black has something to offer people who - unlike the author - don't fret much about whether Mariah Carey is great or god awful or what ... you get 'music writing' that's also about the social terrors of junior high school, about the lure and numbness of the suburbs, about how communities are created and threatened, about bohemian self-hatred, about the limits of deconstruction and ultimately about what music writing - in fact, all writing - can and should do ... [Kogan] writes as if he's dancing, fighting, killing time and trying to change the world."
"Kogan has a way with a turn of phrase ... but he can also go the distance, endlessly questioning preconceived ideas and leading the reader to question them herself ... Frank Kogan's writing changed my life."
--Austin American Statesman
Here's the listing at the University of Georgia Press Website. And Amazon.
And you can comment or read comments on Real Punks Don't Wear Black here.
[UPDATE: A couple more reviews linked here.]