Decline of Western Civilization (Part 1)

The last Ivy Hill Weekly was a showing of Penelope Spheeris’s Decline of Western Civilization (Part 1) in conjunction with Bleeding Audio as it nears its final days of its Kickstarter campaign. The film is one of director Chelsea Christer’s favorite rock docs, similar to the film she’s trying to create.

This was my first time seeing this documentary and it was really amazing. Penelope Spheeris filmed the Los Angeles punk scene before it really took off, so she has footage of bands like Black Flag, X, Germs, and Circle Jerks from the beginning.

There’s an interview with Nicole Panter, Germs’s manager before she could no longer deal with them and quit.

The pits in this film are nothing like the pits I’m used to. I love my pits, but I would not be able to handle these. They looked like the violence was intentional. I’m sure it was. They were getting out aggression, which I can understand, but with actual violence set to music. Things have changed a lot since 1979. (Or have they?)

There was one girl who kept spitting at the band playing, and they’d kick her off the stage, and she’d go right back up, and they’d kick her down again, and she’d go right back up again, over and over. More power to ya, girl, but I could not.

And of course, the footage of the bands. Ugh, so good. My favorite was probably X.

Then there was Germs, who did a LOT of drugs, even (especially?) while playing.

And Circle Jerks.

And Black Flag.

We also get a nice little tour of the closet the members of Black Flag sleep in in a church.

Definitely a film worth checking out if you haven’t. Punk history always gets to me.

Lindsay Marshall

One time I sneezed and Billie Joe Armstrong blessed me.

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