Fury's Hour - A (Sort-of) Punk Manifesto
Random House - 2005
Though not without merit, Warren Kinsella's Fury's Hour is a frustrating book on a number of levels. The Toronto-based lawyer, ex-Liberal staffer and occasional scribe for the right-wing Toronto Sun newspaper, initially starts things off with what seem like the autobiographical renderings of an ex-punk's mid-life crisis. Indeed, Kinsella injects a healthy dose of self-deprecation in the first chapter when he refers to himself as "a boring old fart of the type that I used to malign back when I wrote songs for the punk outfit calling itself the Hot Nasties. Yes," he adds, 'I have become that which I once sought to destroy."
That story - an introspective look at the invariably poignant and ultimately pathetic futility of an aging hipster - would have been a welcome addition to the overcrowded shelves of books on punk. (What crusty old ex-punk hasn't tried to boost their street cred with tales of some long-ago show only to be shot down with that blank stare that the youngsters do so well?) But unfortunately Fury's Hour quickly changes tack, setting off on a different, totally unnecessary course through punk's back pages, from Sniffin' Glue's Mark Perry to John Lydon...basically anyone Kinsella could track down to interview, really. For this sort of stuff, we can consult Wikipedia.
And if that weren't enough to cause an editor to demur, Kinsella wastes reams of space on that most risible of canards, the true punk. Surely anyone who lived through those days of parsing guitar solos or sizing up haircuts to determine who was new wave and who was punk would realize the utter silliness of it all. At forty-five years of age, the otherwise perceptive Kinsella ought to have known better. And speaking of poseurs, this mostly well-written book is sullied with his frequent and gratuitous use of profanity, specifically the use of "fucking" as an intensifier.
All that said, Fury's Hour does contain two excellent chapters that make it essential reading (especially since it has been heavily remaindered and can probably be picked up pretty cheap). The first deals with punk's more extreme elements, both right and left, where Kinsella picks through the brains of RaHoWa founder and former white supremacist George Burdi and ex-Subhuman and direct actionist Gerry Hannah. And the second is a positively charming account of how a teenaged Kinsella and pals hiked from Edmonton to Vancouver to see the Clash on their 1979 tour, only to end up serendipitously partying with their heroes backstage. If there were any doubts as to who was the coolest punk ever, the lads' brief moment with the late Joe Strummer will lay those to rest forever. My eyes actually welled up reading this one.
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