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Book Review: The Heebie-Jeebies At CBGB’S – A Secret History of Jewish Punk by Steven Lee Beeber

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In The Heebie-Jeebies, Steven Lee Beeber delves deep into the tangled history of Jewish Punk, from Lenny Bruce to Lou Reed, the Ramones, Jonathan Richman, Lenny Kaye, Hilly Kristal (owner of CBGB's), Dick Manitoba, Richard Meyers, and Chris Stein.

Also considering Jewish American Women and the birth of Female Punk, along with the Radical Jewish Culture Movement, Beeber writes of the psychic roots of punk music. He examines the post-Holocaust generation of disaffected youth who grew up with a different viewpoint than their parents. Considering themselves the ultimate outsiders, all paths led to New York and the East Village/Lower East Side.

Taking cultural cues from such sources as Mad magazine, and EC comics, (those paragons of taste), the wisenheimer, smart-ass attitude of New York City comes through loud and clear in punk rock. Not by accident. Through interviews with more than 125 people, Beeber tells personal histories of participants in the scene. Some tried to hide their Jewish heritage, some embraced it, some, paradoxically, embraced the trappings of Nazism. Others promoted the music, wrote about it, and sold it.

This is more than just another rock and roll book. It is an examination of how a culture effected and created an art form.

Author Steven Lee Beeber will be appearing at CBGB's Gallery this Friday, October 13 from 6-8 p.m. He'll be reading selections from his book The Heebie-Jeebies At CBGB'S: A Secret History of Jewish Punk. Following the readings will be performances by The Dictators, Sic F*cks, and Bullys. Further info is available at jewpunk.com.

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About Neal Gardner

  • Oblomov

    I thought this was one of the dumbest and most pretentious and boring books I’ve ever read about rock music. Maybe as a follow up Beeber should write an equally silly book about Catholics in Rock.