I would not have survived the ’70s and other lessons from Please Kill Me

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Earlier this week, Joseph Corrรฉโ€”son of designer Vivienne Westwood and late Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLarenโ€”announced festive Thanksgiving plans. On November 26, Corrรฉ says he’s going to burn his entire collection of punk memorabilia, worth an estimated $7 million.

The bonfire coincides with the 40th anniversary of the release of the Sex Pistols’ “Anarchy in the U.K.” and is meant to be a protest of more official 40th Anniversary of Punk celebrations in London. “The Queen giving 2016, the Year of Punk, her official blessing is the most frightening thing Iโ€™ve ever heard,” Corrรฉ said this week. “Rather than a movement for change, punk has become like a fucking museum piece or a tribute act.” He’s urging others to burn their punk memorabilia as well. All in all, a pretty punk move.

The birth of punk music may go back 40 years, but one of the genre’s most definitive histories was published a bit more recently: Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.

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Just kids stuff

In a bit of fortuitous timing, I finished Patti Smith’s Just Kids the same day that Girls, a new comedy from Lena Dunham/Judd Apatow, premiered on HBO.

Now, these two things aren’t directly related. In fact, they’re not really related at all. Rather, one just made me think of the other, and since the critical reception of Just Kids ran the gamut from appreciative to absolutely glowingโ€”while Girls received less favorable treatment from the likes of Gawker and, you know, viewersโ€”I thought it perhaps an apt time to share the comparison.

For the unfamiliar, Just Kids is a memoir written by artist/poet/musician Patti Smith, about her long relationship-turned-friendship with fellow artist Robert Mapplethorpe, he of controversial photography fame. Smith, now married with children, wrote the book in 2010, nearly 20 years after Robert’s death, and more than forty years after the pair first met in Brooklyn as 20-year-old aspiring artists. Smith’s is a memoir about love, but also about a time and a placeโ€”New York in the 1970sโ€”and about coming into one’s own as an artist and an adult. Although we as readers know how the story endsโ€”with success for both subjects and Mapplethorpe’s ultimate death from AIDSโ€”Just Kids isn’t so much focused on the tangible progression of the pair’s respective careers. It’s a glimpse behind the scenes, into the development and maturation of two people who at first glance really are just young and clueless, aspirational and broke, hopeful and driven.

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