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Winston Smith w/ V. Vale
June 29, 2016 @ 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm UTC+0
Pegasus Books teams up with 924 Gilman to present Winston Smith (illustrator of Dead Kennedy’s: Fresh Fruit for for Rotting Vegetables) in conversation with V. Vale (founder of RE/SEARCH: San Francisco’s longest running punk rock publication).
Presented as part of “Mosh Lit:” A Pegasus Books and 924 Gilman Event Series
Dead Kennedys routinely top both critic and fan polls as the greatest punk band of their generation. Their debut full-length, Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables, in particular, is regularly voted among the top albums in the genre. Fresh Fruit offered a perfect hybrid of humor and polemic strapped to a musical chassis that was as tetchy and inventive as Jello Biafra’s withering broadsides. Those lyrics, cruel in their precision, were revelatory. But it wouldn’t have worked if the underlying sonics were not such an uproarious rush, the paraffin to Biafra’s naked flame.
Dead Kennedys’ continuing influence is an extraordinary achievement for a band that had practically zero radio play and only released records on independent labels. They not only existed outside of the mainstream but were, as V. Vale of Search and Destroy noted, the first band of their stature to turn on and attack the music industry itself. The DKs set so much in motion. They were integral to the formulation of an alternative network that allowed bands on the first rung of the ladder to tour outside of their own backyard. They were instrumental in supporting the concept of all-ages shows and spurned the advances of corporate rock promoters and industry lapdogs. They legitimized the notion of an American punk band touring internationally while disseminating the true horror of their native country’s foreign policies, effectively serving as anti-ambassadors on their travels.
The book uses dozens of first-hand interviews, photos, and original artwork to offer a new perspective on a group who would become mired in controversy almost from the get-go. It applauds the band’s key role in transforming punk rhetoric, both polemical and musical, into something genuinely threatening—and enormously funny. The author offers context in terms of both the global and local trajectory of punk and, while not flinching from the wildly differing takes individual band members have on the evolution of the band, attempts to be celebratory—if not uncritical.
“We have a sense of humor and we’re not afraid to use it in a vicious way if we have to. In some ways, we’re cultural terrorists, using music instead of guns.“
—Jello Biafra, Dead Kennedys
Punk art surrealist Winston Smith, a master of “hand-carved“ collage, has been crafting his thought-provoking art since the 1970s. Smith first became known for his collaborations with punk legends Dead Kennedys and his numerous album covers, inserts, and flyers for the band in their formative years. His technique of cutting out by hand and gluing each individual element has inspired a generation of artists. His published collections include Act Like Nothing’s Wrong, Artcrime, and All Riot on the Western Front.
In 1977 V. Vale founded as sole proprietor Search & Destroy, San Francisco’s first Punk Rock publication. It was published at City Lights Bookstore, where V. Vale worked, and was funded by $100 each from Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg. In 1980, V. Vale launched as sole proprietor RE/SEARCH. V. Vale is most likely the longest lasting (and still active) Punk publisher. Although Vale released books which include Jello Biafra, Henry Rollins, Lydia Lunch, and many other Punk notables, RE/SEARCH is actually best known for its impact on the total world of underground culture.