by Richard Laing
Public Dick Punk 83
by Richard Brammer
East German Sunshine, 2014
93 pages / $5.98 (print version) $1.28 (e-book)
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1. This is Richard Brammer’s second book following on the heels of last year’s MDMA and Menthol Cigarettes which first discovered and borrowed on Alt-Lit library. This one isn’t free but it’s still pretty inexpensive (especially the e-book but I’d recommend the print version).
2. This is to be the first in a long line of Public Dick Punk… books. The next is mooted to be named Public Dick Punk 82. We are not sure about the significance of the ‘83’ or the ‘82’. These poems/writings appear to be set in the present day.
3. Number 2 may be a lie as previously Richard Brammer stated that his second book was to be called ‘Selected Serotonin’ and fabricated (presumably fabricated?) an interview with retired English ballerina Darcey Bussell about the new book. He said the new book would be a homage to Teenage Fanclub album ‘Bandwagonesque’ but there book never appeared and was never mentioned again.
4. Public Dick Punk 83 is an extremely fast read, the reader flies through it and then wishes to fly through it again afterwards. In the words of poet Michael Hofmann it is ‘a machine for re-reading’.
5. It contains many proper nouns and names and brands and theseare collected in a particularly unhelpful index at the back. I will now list a few of these things: Michelle Williams, the Roland 303 drum machine, the NSA scandal, cupcake lesbian, Bjork, Bourne Supremacy, The Fall, Dreampop, Instagram, John Updike, Fractional Reserve Banking, Estonian Shoegaze, Google, TV, Hipster and PDF, Husker Du.
6. The index also elucidates on which pages basic conjunctions and articles such as ‘the’, ‘and’ and ‘if’ appear on. For instance: ‘if’ appears on pages 16, 29, 34, 37, 47, 55, 65, 70, 72, 84, 87, 92, and 96.
7. The poems/writings are split into five sections: ‘Log In, Remember me’, ‘Thrift with outside detractors’, ‘Food and Activities Outside’, ‘On Coloured Vinyl’ and ‘A short history of all memory’. None of these section titles appear to have much to do with the poems that they envelope but sometimes you think ‘Hey there’s a plan, here!’ so sometimes the reader thinks they do.
8. The book is very hipster friendly and is unapologetic for that, defiant even. It is dedicated to ‘the unreconstructed hipster’.
9. There is a poem about a girl named Edie whose name ‘isn’t Amy’ and who has ‘a cool cervix’.
10. The poems/writing themselves are generally written in a breathless kind of way with many idioms recognisable from social media but also from a variety of registers. You get the impression this writer hasn’t only grown up on the internet and references to early 80s style magazines such as ‘The Face’ and to a number of bands much beloved of what was, at one time, called ‘college radio’ (now known as bands that Pitchfork are likely to review) crop up throughout. As does late-80s, early 90s British rave culture. You never know, maybe he’s just Googled alot of this ‘vintage’ stuff.
11. A few examples of titles of these poems are ‘Eye Chlamydia’, ‘Girl crouching outside Pret-a-Manger with a cigarette’, ‘Estonian Shoegaze’, ‘Generation X’, ‘Adventures on the East Central European Study Tour’, ‘Minimal, Deep, German and Swedish’, ‘TV together now is my permanent life?’, ‘I bet even Diana would laugh and retweet this’, ‘This Old Psychedelic Rock Song is New’ and ‘The 8 Habits of Highly Successful’.
12. The title ‘Public Dick Punk’ apparently comes from some graffiti in an underground public toilet converted into a hipster bar named ‘The Temple of Convenience’ in Manchester, England (home of such bands as Joy Division, The Smiths, New Order and The Fall, not to mention famous nightclub haunts such as ‘The Hacienda’ and the independent 80s/90s cult record label ‘Factory Records’.
13. The cover is really plain. Absurdly plain. Merely the authors name and the title of the book. It is a really ugly grey colour that is prone to fingerprints but at the same time it is sort of charmingly austere.
14. There is a poem therein written in English that a note informs us is ‘translated from the English’.
15. If you Google ‘Public Dick Punk 83’ or ‘Estonian Shoegaze’ + video the author has made a few promotional book trailers which are actually very lo-fi and quite entertaining. The main book trailer takes as its soundtrack the song ‘Ben’s my friend’ from Sun Kil Moon album ‘Benji’ and appears to feature alot of hipster types cavorting around interspersed with images of some kind of out of time marketplace and red London buses from the Sixties.
16. This writer definitely frequents craft microbreweries.
17. In fact, the whole feel is that of a Mumblecore film. There is a consistent voice throughout which is why it seems quite readable and not too weighty at first but the massive amount of different registers or ghosts of registers require a second read, a third read if you want to ‘get them’ except they can’t be got because I’m not sure that the point isn’t that there is nothing to get.
18. It is very funny at times.
19. Sometimes it is sad.
20. It has some kind of debt to Jon Leon probably, as well as to alt-lit and is occasionally flarfy but doesn’t read as nonsense or as too abstract.
21. Speech rhythms abound and any semblance of good, well mannered syntax is completely eschewed in favour of odd line breaks, endless polysyndetic and….and…ands but all held together with judicious pronouns.
22. It contains occasional David Foster Wallace footnotes but they differ in as much as they are usually really short and mostly only point up really obvious things.
23. It doesn’t seem to be alot of money and despite being published by ‘East German Sunshine’, I’d guess it was self-published and this is good because it is too full of misdirection and tricks to please a mainstream publisher.
24. Is ‘Confrontational, challenging, unmoving, exhausting, complex’ according to the blurb on the back of the book.
25. Is ironic, or post-ironic or ironic or quite sincere and generally not in a completely insufferable way. Something is going on here.