When Heebie Jeebies crossed my desk, I was intrigued by the premise: how Judaism as a faith and tradition influenced the people responsible for making my scene what it was.
Anyone who’s seen a Woody Allen movie can tell you that self-loathing and guilt are very much a part of Jewish life. What’s also a part of that same culture is the ability to use art, music, and dark humor to survive and transcend. Punk is a culmination of all of those things, tied together with a final element crucial to Jewish culture – family.
In no other place is this more apparent than in the story of The Dictators, outer-boro punks fronted by Handsome Dick Manitoba, whose borscht-belt, irreverent comedy between songs endeared him to the early audiences and to Epic Records. But when the first album tanked, The Dictators rebranded themselves as a more “serious” band, and their glow slowly faded…their thunder seized by the Ramones.
From Lou Reed to John Zorn, author Beeber weaves an intriguing tale, with each chapter pulling the covers off some of the most famous and infamous punks and showing how their Jewish heritage and experience made them, and they made the music.