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Late ’70s punk scenes were explosions, gatherings of unstable elements all slamming and melding and burning together, rather than just a collection of short-lived bands and shut down clubs. Some said there was no future. Some lived too hard and fast to even find out. Others organized, documented, and supported the scene that had nurtured their creativity and offered an alternative to the increasingly disappointing mainstream. Luckily for those born a decade or two too late some of the most prolific pillars of the L.A. punk scene have never forgotten and refused to give up the memories and ethos that helped them find their way to and through punk, like the compass of a needle. 

Some might think of the west coast as the place where hippies and new-agers go to “mellow” out and deflate like overly ripe fruit, but during the germination phase of L.A.’s most notorious punk you couldn’t find a more intense, aggressive place besides maybe Alcatraz. The Bags were the L.A. band that would rip you from your reverie and force you to look into the face of the good, bad and ugly in the world. With songs like “Survive,” “Babylonian Gorgon,” “We Will Bury You,” and “Violence Girl,” it was impossible to ignore them, and with Alice Bag upfront on the vocals shrieking, writhing, and commanding ALL of your attention, even if you looked away the image would be burned onto the inside of your eyelids. 

Alice Bag, born Alicia Armendariz, has been and continues to be punk through and through. While music blogs and journalists come up with yet another way to categorize and define the sounds and attitudes they experience, it’s good to know that the spirit of punk in its most organic and unpolluted form is still celebrated by and within her. Whether she’s interviewing other influential women from the ’70s L.A. punk scene or getting ready for the release of her book “Violence Girl” coming out this fall, she seems to always be looking ahead, learning from the past and embracing the present.

Alice was kind enough to take time off from her duties as a mother, author, blogger, crafter, and so much more to share some of her favorite books for what’s going to be a regular feature here on Dynamite In A Dixie Cup. With her own book on the precipice of being unleashed onto the world, I thought she’d be the perfect woman to get our new book club of sorts off to the right start!

Get news on “Violence Girl”, Alice’s story of growing up in East L.A. and playing an integral role in the celebrated L.A. and Hollywood punk scene, on the Violence Girl Facebook page. Like me, Alice celebrates other dynamic women on her blog Women In L.A. Punk, and make sure to get the latest news and unbelievable photos by following her on her site and twitter

Without further ado, here are Alice Bag’s required summer readings! Hop on your bike and hit up your local library or independent bookstore or amazon.com NOW if not sooner!

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If you’re looking for something to read this summer here are few of my pussy-powered favorites.

At the top of my list is "A Thousand Splendid Suns" by Khaled Hosseini, who also penned "The Kite Runner." I loved this book. The story is set in Afghanistan and spans 30 years, painting a vivid portrait of life under each changing regime and giving a mini-history lesson along the way. At the core of this novel is the story of two women who endure countless hardships but find strength in what becomes an unlikely alliance.

Another suggestion is "One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd" by Jim Fergus.  Although if the two books with Thousand in the title went mano a mano Splendid Suns would easily win, I found this fictional journal a light, enjoyable read. It’s the story of an unofficial exchange between the U.S. Government and the Cheyenne: Native American horses for white brides. A wild west woman’s tale of adventure.

Another couple of notable reads with a common word in their long ass titles are "American Eve: Evelyn Nesbit, Stanford White: The Birth of the ‘It’ Girl and the Crime of The Century" by Paula Uruburu and "American Rose, A Nation Laid Bare: The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee" by Karen Abbott. Both books are great summer reads. I liked American Eve better than American Rose. Who woulda thunk the teenage Gibson Girl would have a juicier story than burlesque superstar Gypsy Rose Lee? It’s true. Both books are good but if you want velvet swings instead of velvet gloves, then American Eve is for you. Escandalo!

And if you prefer the classics read "Jane Eyre" again, I did and fell in love with it all over.