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Having been heavily into the straight-edge scene from 1987-91 or so, and having more or lest kept abreast of it since (while remaining SE), it was with some trepidation that I started reading this compilation of interviews with former band members and scenesters of that era. While I wasn't surprised at all to find a lot of revisionist history about what so-and-so "really" believed at the time, there was actually quite a bit more honesty and self-awareness than I expected. Even though most of the interviewees aren't SE any more, there was a general consensus that it had played a positive role in their lives, despite the wretched excesses that some in the scene were--and are--prone to. There are a few females (friends of the compiler) who have some semi-interesting things to say about how straight-edge is fairly exclusionary of women, but the best interview in the book is with Ian Mackaye. Far from dissing SE, he lauds its passability as a positive influence and force while recognizing its limitations and unexpected mutations. For people who were there, this book is an interesting look back, but as a work of anthropology it's kind of useless. One wishes Lahickey had pursued some of the obvious contradictions and obfuscations in some of her interviewees statements. The book is chock-a-block with live pictures and reproductions of flyers, which make up somewhat for the crappy typography and typos.
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on June 10, 1998
Since so little literature outside of fanzines exist on this sub-culture, it is great that someone went to these lengths to interview key members of bands involved in making straight edge so big in the mid-late 80's. The book is OK for capturing the straight interviews, but could have done so much more with commentary and perspective from the author, who seems to have some very well-thought and well-phrased words to put on paper when she opts to (limited to the intro). For those who know nothing about the subjects, the book will mean very little, and does not aim to educate. But for those interested in the music (both old and young), this book should be of interest, though it may depress you to find out how limited the subjects' approach to music and life was. I'm just glad to see something like this in print.
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on July 30, 1998
A look back into the origins of a movement that I have connected with so strongly for the last 10 years, this book was a fascinating read. At the same time, it leaves one feeling melancholy as so many of the influential participants in the scene have moved on and look back with a cynical eye. Constructed mainly of interviews, the book accurateely describes a time and place through the eyes of those that were there and involved. The tone is respectful of the movement, but not afriad to point out its flaws. Overall a job well done
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on November 18, 2013
well what can you say - straight edge folk don't do the drugs or the drinkin' and they like the clean livin'.

it's a great book. gives you a comprehensive look at people who have used a sharpie to make X's on their hands for no real reason.

just kidding - solid read. 10/10
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on July 31, 2013
While I genuinely enjoyed reading this book and looking at all the sexy photographs of muscular straight edge studs, there are many things about this book which I find really problematic. Of the 30 or so people that Becky Lahickey interviewed only three of them are women. She also only interviewed two people of color, both Latino/as, and only one out queer musician, the bisexual singer Dan O'Mahony. While I commend Lahickey for questioning the women about their experiences in a largely patriarchal subculture, it amazes me that she never discusses the issue of racism with the two Latino/as or the issue of heterosexism with the one out bisexual. Surprisingly, she never even mentions his sexuality at all, despite the fact that O'Mahony is definitely not in the closet. Just read his excellent and very erotic book, "Four Letter World". As a straight edge, radical queer, I would have really appreciated some LGBTQ perspectives on the movement. Given the fact that the straight edge community is so overwhelmingly dominated by white, middle-class, heterosexual, cisgender, young men, I think a discussion about racism, sexism, classism, and heterosexism would have been enormously valuable. As one example of straight edge machismo, many of the contributors speak in phallocentric terminology, talking about the importance of having a "hard" personality. Though the straight edge movement is overtly political, I was disappointed to find that Beth Lahickey barely discusses politics in this book at all. Moreover, in her interview with Ray Cappo, she never interrogates him about his responsibility for drawing so many straight edge activists into the Hare Krishna cult. Despite their exotic robes, vegetarian diet, and nag champa incense, the Hare Krishnas share the same conservative political opinions on sexuality and gender as their Christian fundamentalist counterparts. Like the hardline movement and Christian straight edge, I think that Krishnacore is a really negative and destructive development in the straight edge movement. For a much better book on straight edge, I recommend the straight edge, anarchist anthology, "Sober Living For The Revolution", edited by Gabriel Kuhn and published by PM Press.
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on April 14, 1999
as a follower of the staright edge movement for several years now, it's always good to see the issue gain public notice in a positive light. however, the interviews here seem to deal only with the state of the scene during nearly ten years ago. also, it's a bit of a dissappointment considering that the majority of those interviewed here no longer have any ties to the scene, and choose to portray it in a fairly negative way. this book, although slightly informative, is merely a collection of words and thoughts from a group of aging, jaded, bitter individuals who have long sense sold out their ideas and beliefs. i think the only reassuring words came from Mike Hartsfield who stated clearly he is still involved and always plans to be. everyone grows up, but that doesn't neccessarily mean you have to grow "out" of any aspect of life. growing up is merely learning. this book had wonderful potential in gaining wide coverage of a scene so sequestered from the media and society, but failed to touch on any topics of current action or up to date information. overall it serves as a collector's item to anyone involved with straight edge, past or present, as well as an up date to what has happened with individual's heroes from the last decade of hardcore music.
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Pour tous les straight edge francophones, ce livre, bien qu'en anglais, nous permet, au travers de plusieurs entrevues, de repondre a tous ses rumeurs que l'on entend comme quoi que tel personne n'est plus straight, que tel autre nie la scene, etc... ca nous permet de comprendre comment la scene de 88 a vecu au travers des entrevue de ceux qui etaient la. les reponses que l'on veut savoir par les personnes directement concernee.
Proud to be poison FREE
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on March 27, 2000
This book is a sociologist's dream as well as a hardcore music fan's dream come true. While Beth could have taken a more sociopolitical look at the straight edge movement, she decided to interview the icons of the movement and let them do the talking. Those unfamiliar with the hardcore music scene will find it difficult to read, but if you are interested in learning about youth counter culture then by all means check it out. If you are personally (or polically) straight edge yourself, you have no excuse not to read this book.
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on April 20, 1998
I've lived a drug-free lifestyle for most of my life...I've never really had a desire for drugs. One day, someone asked me, "Are you Straight Edge?" And it got me thinking, "What is Straight Edge?" If you ever wondered, this is the book to read. It is a great source of experiences. It's not a bible. It's here to make you think and let you come up with your own conclusions.
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on January 25, 1999
All Ages--Reflection on Straight Edge is a great resource for anyone having questions or looking for insight on the hardcore and straight edge scene. Excellent interviews including my personal favorite with Civ and his days with Gorilla Biscuits. However, spotted earlier, the book seems to only cover the time period between 1985-89 when it is today the hardcore scene has exploded out even more. Otherwise, well worth buying
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