There was a time right after I graduated high school when I sat around listening to Bay Area punk. I had a friend who was obsessed with a relatively new band called Green Day, and who made me crushed-out mixtapes full of romantic bands like Blatz, Screaching Weasel and Operation Ivy. The music was faster, wordier and more flip than the muddier, minor-chord-driven angst of Pacific Northwest rock, but I like its flippancy and the fact that the bands had a sense of humor.
At the core of my Bay Area punk re-education were three iconic entities: Alternative Tentacles, Lookout! Records and Maximum Rocknroll. The two labels, particularly Lookout!, I would end up having a relationship with for years to come. MRR -- a fierce and unapologetic fanzine that has been around since the early '80s -- always felt like a hallowed and mysterious presence. The black-and-white images paired with an unadorned layout spoke to the strident nature of the publication. MRR was serious; it was both the source and the soothsayer. I would devour its dense and esoteric music coverage, newsprint smudging my fingertips, wondering if my young suburban self could ever live up to the ethos preached and lauded therein. I didn't even like all the music MRR wrote about, I just loved how much they loved it; how their singular mission was to elevate punk above all else. The fanzine took a stand and never stopped standing there. An immovable force.
This year, Maximum Rocknroll released a photo issue, something they haven't done for a long time. Unfortunately, the issue is already sold out, but Wired.com has a bunch of the photos on their site for your perusal, some of which I've included in this post.