Book Review: Under the Big Black Sun: A Personal History of L.A. Punk”

“Under the Big Black Sun: A Personal History of L.A. Punk”
Author: John Doe w/ Tom DeSavia and Friends
Da Capo Press
Hardcover: 227 pages

Our score: 4 out of 5 stars

“Under the Big Black Sun: A Personal History of L.A. Punk” was written by X vocalist/bassist John Doe along with help from Tom DeSavia and laundry list of who’s who from the late 70’s and early 80’s L.A. punk scene. For the first time in one place the true story of a scene often overlooked is told in all of its gritty and grimy detail by none other those who experienced it and by those who helped create it. This is not your typical memoir however as this book tells not only of how the scene began and developed but also how it went on to change music forever.

Before I get into my review of the book I want to point out that if you are unfamiliar with the scene this book documents or the bands that appear grab a copy of Penelope Spheeris film “The Decline of Western Civilization” as a majority of the people’s names and a lot of the places featured in the film coincide with those who are also in the book. After a very brief forward by Green Day front man Billie Joe Armstrong we are quickly whisked back to the not so glamorous side of Los Angeles. Just a few brief years before hair metal would dominate the sun set strip bands like X, Black Flag and the Minute Men were the bands to go see. John Doe does a great job recounting his stories from this era with vivid detail and truthfulness that make you want to keep turning the page. As an added element to Doe’s story there is often even more colorful commentary provided by other musicians or friends who were there to experience everything as well. Not only does this add different angles to a previously told story but it fills in gaps with intricate firsthand accounts. For me this only pulled me further into the already captivating story. To go along with the stories there are several black and white photo sections which are chocked full of rare photos that by themselves are worth the price of the book.

From cover to cover Doe and DeSavia and crew nail it. Aside from actually being around during this specific time I don’t think you could get any closer nor could it be anymore real. There were a few times when I wished Doe had kept going from his perspective as sometimes when the story teller switched you were in a sense re-reading some of what was just told however, that aside “Under the Big Black Sun: A Personal History of L.A. Punk” is a great book for not only punk rock fans and music but for those wanting to learn about a period of time in Los Angeles that isn’t sugar coated with all the normal glitz and glamour LaLa Land is often associated.

Product Review “Coleman: Quickbed Elite Queen Extra High Airbed & 4D CPX Personal Size Led Lantern”

Recently, the family and I decided to take our first camping trip. Thanks to the wonderful people at Coleman. They hooked us up with some amazing products including the Coleman Evanston Screened 8 Tent, which is simply outstanding (read our review here) But one after effect of our camping trip was one hell of a sore back. Getting old definitely sucks. I used to be able to sleep absolutely anywhere and have no effect. My bad was killing me after this trip, so I thought to myself that if we are going to do this again (which we certainly are), I need to get an airbed.

Luckily, Coleman came to the rescue again with their product: Quickbed® Elite Queen Extra High Airbed W/ 4D BIP. Let me tell you, this thing is mega mega comfortable. I know that my next trip to the great outdoors if going to be must more comfortable. This airbed has extra height and along with the 48 internal coils provide fantastic support. Even with the whole family on board, this bed help up very well. It also comes with an Airtight system, which is guaranteed not to leak and the easy-to-use Double Lock valve that allows you very easily inflate and deflate the bed.

Another aspect during our camping trip that we figured out too late that we needed was light. Of course we have our phones but a little more stable light would have been nice. Luckily we were able to find the 4D CPX Personal Size Led Lantern. This lantern is outstanding. You are able to really control the this 360° light with four settings, which shines a strong 190 lumens up to 29 ft. (8.84 m) while it is on its highest setting and 100 lumens on the lowest. There are four positions to choice from including High / Low / Nightlight / Off. This will come in handy after the kids go to sleep and you need a little reading light.

If you are worried about how this bad boy is powered. You have control of that! You can choose whether you want to use four D cell batteries or one CPX 6 rechargeable power cartridge (both sold separately). This lantern will pack a runtime of up to 65 hours on high, which is plenty of time for a nice weekend away. Another bonus is that the Cree XLamp XR-E LED light actually lasts a lifetime and never needs replacing. This is a real treat especially for the price. Also this device runs cool, so there are no risks of burning and lastly it is water and impact-resistant.