Enter the South Bay, One Last Time

19 Aug

Naomi

Joe Carducci’s new book, Enter Naomi: SST, L.A. and All That… (Redoubt Press, 2007) is finally out, and boy is it a doozy. Though ostensibly a bio of rock-photographer Naomi Petersen, the book approaches its subject with the widest berth possible – beginning with 35 disparate but complimentary quotes about L.A., from everyone from Louise Brooks to Richard Nixon. The narrative then follows Naomi from Simi Valley teen fuck-up to SST Records hanger-on and finally to well-respected but destitute rock photographer over the course of 2 decades.

Along the way, there’s some lengthy digressions: ruminations about the trippy characters that populated SST Records in the 80’s (Spot, Mugger, Merrill, Medea et al.), the day-to-day wonders & frustrations of running an independent label on amplification/faith/coffee alone, some serious thinking about L.A. punk and the South Bay’s place therein, and tons of photos/miscellaneous detritus to elucidate those long-gone days. Plus there’s some keen insight into the personality of the much maligned/misunderstood SST leader, Greg Ginn. The path Joe takes is pretty circuitous – this edition is 10-fold longer than the version published on the internet in 2005! But then, so were the riffs on those later BLACK FLAG records that Joe loves so much. I wouldn’t expect anything less.

You won’t find any of the polemical ranting that defined Joe’s classic first book, Rock and the Pop Narcotic here – and I’m thinking this is to his credit. His writing style is no less inspired/gonzo in this one, just more pensive and hence more balanced in the process. At times it reads like a rambling but unsentimental love song, which is clearly how he meant it. But this song’s not meant exclusively for Naomi – it’s sung for that entire dive-in-headfirst SST approach to engaging life, producing art, and getting it out there to where the fuckers just couldn’t ignore it no more. It was a working philosophy that bound tight a bunch of stinky, eccentric dorks (musical and non-musical alike) together in an oddball patch of Reagan-era Southern California, and consequently gave rise to some amazing rock n roll. Favorite quote: “In L.A., then, you had your choice: physical assault, or mind-fuck. Maybe the worst that can be said of SST at the south bay center of Los Angeles cosmology was that it was the best of both worlds.”

As heartfelt memoir & micro-history of a genuinely inspirational, faraway time/place, Enter Naomi‘s unfuckingbeatable. I can’t wait for the oversized retrospective of Naomi’s photos, one that’ll no doubt blow minds from here to Thurston Moore and back again.

Get it today, direct from Joe’s warehouse via Night Heron Books.

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6 Responses to “Enter the South Bay, One Last Time”

  1. Jeanne August 19, 2007 at 6:22 pm #

    Thanks for the review, I want to read this! I never met her, but remember seeing her at some shows in DC and of course her photographs which are amazing!

  2. JB August 20, 2007 at 1:35 am #

    Latest on Carducci:

    http://www.rmchronicle.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1284

  3. mrowster August 20, 2007 at 8:24 pm #

    Thanks for the link, JB! How are you and Darren doing? I STILL have bad dreams about that synth-heavy 2nd BAD RELIGION rec, to this day – you guys are to blame.

  4. Sandy September 6, 2007 at 8:15 am #

    I ordered my book last night and can’t wait to read it. Naomi was one of my dearest friends in the ’90s and I miss her incredibly. The 2005 internet pre-version was written with so much love and insight into Nomer’s soul, I will cherish this book as I will once again have my sweet friend back with me, if only in print.

  5. mrowster September 6, 2007 at 12:34 pm #

    You’ll love the book for sure – I certainly did, though I never had the opportunity to meet her.

  6. Suzanne August 3, 2008 at 4:22 am #

    I can’t wait to get my copy. Naomi and I were high school friends in Simi Valley for a while and I last saw her just as she started doing album art. I was devastated to learn of her death but am glad for the chance to reacquaint myself with her, albeit posthumously.

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