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Gosh! Best Of 2022

A heartfelt memoir from Afro-Punk documentary filmmaker and now cartoonist James Spooner. More than a narrative about growing up in a small town as a mixed-raced punk kid, it is a long hard examination of Black identity within constrictive White spaces. While it is true adolescence the world over is synonymous with tidal waves of acne, confusion and isolation, for Spooner, now proudly referring to himself as a “Black Weirdo”, being an outcast was nothing short of a constant in his formative years. Trying to exist in traditionally non-white scenes and constantly pushing the very definition of “belonging” while navigating the complex mechanics of life, love and community, Spooner takes us for a spin through time and the California Desert in the late 80’s and early 90’s. At times endearing and others challenging, it is a politically charged, eye-opening book, all the more important that it still resonates with issues still present today. More than a music genre, the activism behind Punk is what brought Spooner to become the unapologetic pioneer he is today. A must read for the budding activist punk-rocker you were back then or the one around you right now.

(W) James Spooner (A) James Spooner Apple Valley, California, in the late eighties, a thirsty, miserable desert. Teenage James Spooner hates that he and his mom are back in town after years away. The one silver lining-new school, new you, right? But the few Black kids at school seem to be gangbanging, and the other kids fall on a spectrum of micro-aggressors to future Neo-Nazis. James doesn't know where he fits until he meets Ty, a young Black punk who introduces him to the school outsiders-skaters, unhappy young rebels, caught up in the punk groundswell sweeping the country. A haircut, a few Sex Pistols, Misfits and Black Flag records later: suddenly, James has friends, romantic prospects, and knows the difference between a bass and a guitar. But this desolate landscape hides brutal, building undercurrents. Everything and everyone are set to collide at one of the year's biggest shows in town.