Author Joe Carducci, who’s built a career out of eloquent curmudgeonhood and the sort of I-was-there vehemence usually associated with Vietnam vets, has written a book I’m finding to be an even bigger challenge than Rock and the Pop Narcotic. Last year’s Enter Naomi: SST, L.A. and All That . . . is in some respects a biography of and tribute to Naomi Petersen (pictured), a photographer whose images of Black Flag, the Meat Puppets, the Minutemen, Saint Vitus, and countless others capture the vibrancy and scary energy of the 80s LA scene. But Petersen died alone in 2003 of liver failure at age 38, and Carducci didn’t hear until two years later.
The book clearly reflects his anger with himself about that, but Carducci also displays an apparent inability to truly focus on Petersen, his nominal subject. She hovers around the edges of the book, a deliberately mysterious figure among the more lionized male artists who often find it to their advantage–or just a lot easier–to remain self-absorbed and oblivious. The author deserves props for the unusual candor of his self-examination, but speaking as a female reader, let me just say that Petersen’s loneliness–as Carducci describes it, anyway–doesn’t seem odd or surprising in the least. It’s a frustrating, moving, and mostly honest book.
Carducci will read from his new one and discuss his work in general at Quimby’s, 1854 W. North, at 7 PM on Saturday–his first appearance there since 1995. It’s free.