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Denvoid and the Cowtown Punks: A Collection of Stories from the ‘80s Denver Punk
By Bob Rob Medina, 228 pgs.

By Rev. Norb
Monday, February 01 2016

The recipe for a scene biography (or whatever you wanna call it) in the post-Please Kill Me world has been a reasonably simple one: assemble quotes from scenesters to form some manner of semi-coherent narrative; add a few photos; garnish with lemon; serve over ice. Denvoid and the Cowtown Punks absolutely demolishes this idea as the eternal blueprint for such tomes, commanding attention from current and future generations simply on account of its unprecedented (or possibly only barely-precedented) MASSIVENESS. This thing is 8.5” x 11”, the better part of an inch thick, and there’s full color on every page. That just blows my mind. There’s so much ink on these pages—which are themselves on rather thick stock, presumably to hold all the ink—that opening the book up to read it made the whole room reek of printer’s ink. Unremarkable you say? I hasten to add that I started reading this book in the lunchroom at work, and I work in printing, in a building that ALREADY reeks like printer’s ink! Even more mind-blowing is the sheer volume of illustrations in this thing—apart from the de rigueur scans of flyers and records, there are only a handful of photographs included here. The brunt of the illustrative workload is handled by the author’s full-color drawings—there’s probably at least two hundred in here—which bring to mind some manner of Brian Walsby/Vincent Van Gogh hybrid, using the gross, color-by-the-wrong-numbers palette of Wesley Willis for added eyebrow raises. The sheer amount of effort it must have taken just to draw all this shit—to say nothing of, you know, the writing and the interviewing—should really give future authors of such works pause, or at least grist for the mill of scholarly contemplation. So, yes. This is a huge, weighty, colorful, stinky, profusely illustrated, sparsely photographed book about the Denver scene of the 1980s, a scene that, due to relative geographic isolation and the absence of internet, mutated largely along its own trajectory. The author spends the first thirty-odd pages giving his own origin story, starting as a tween-age cholo before discovering The Punk Rock; then devotes the rest to interviews with the Denver movers and shakers of the day. Ultimately, while it’s cool to read about Denver bands I’d largely forgotten—Hey, the Rok Tots! Oh yeah, the Lepers! Whoa, the Anti-Scrunti Faction!—the relative lack of star power (no offense intended) coupled with the book’s sheer voluminousness might make this massive volume a tough sell to anyone not either deeply invested in the Denver scene or a rabid consumer of random scene biographies. Rev. Nørb (Robot Enemy, bobrobart.bigcartel.com)

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