WE GOT THE NEUTRON BOMB -- The Untold Story of L.A. Punk edited by Marc Spitz and Brenden Mullen (Three Rivers), 296 pages, $20 paper. Rating: NNN
Clearly inspired by Please Kill Me -- the entertaining oral history of New York punk by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain -- Masque club founder Brenden Mullen and SPIN writer Marc Spitz try to document the Los Angeles punk scene of the late 70s by similarly weaving together recollections of key participants. They've got some good quotes from people like John Doe, Exene Cervenka, Lee Ving, Pleasant Gehman, Robert "El Vez" Lopez, Black Randy, Peter Case, even Simpsons creator Matt Groening and then a record store geek at Licorice Pizza. However, the authors don't contextualize the raw data, let alone describe what was exciting about the L.A. scene. Some bit are hilarious, such as the Chuck E. Weiss account of Tom Waits's hair-pulling slap fight with Bags drummer Nickey Beat, but we need to know who the sources are and how they're connected. Besides the dearth of photos of artists, clubs and scenesters or flyers (there's not a Raymond Pettibon poster in sight), the absence of any discographical detail is also a huge oversight. Even a list of recommend recordings would've been an asset.