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Lexicon Devil: The Fast Times and Short Life of Darby Crash and the Germs Paperback – April 15, 2002


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Lexicon Devil:  The Fast Times and Short Life of Darby Crash and the Germs + We Got the Neutron Bomb : The Untold Story of L.A. Punk + Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Since his heroin overdose in 1980, Darby Crash has become a symbol of punk irreverence, but his posthumous fame has tended to overshadow the seminal work of the punk band he fronted, the Germs. Mullen (who coauthored We Got the Neutron Bomb: The Untold Story of L.A. Punk), along with ex-Germs drummer Bolles and writer Parfrey, quickly deconstructs the myth of Crash (n Jan Paul Beahm) to reveal an embattled and confused soul who struggled with drug use and his homosexuality. Featuring raw quotations from Crash's peers in the burgeoning 1970s West Coast punk scene, the book offers both positive and negative views of the singer and the scene that raised him. Crash's fans were known for their cultish reverence, and Crash himself is shown to be a self-conscious misfit who used psychological ploys to enlist followers. It is unlikely that this book will reach a wide audience and thus imbue Crash's legacy with more humanity and, in turn, the Germs with more respectability, but it does strengthen the growing literature on American punk music. Recommended for popular music collections, especially as a complement to We Got the Neutron Bomb, which covers similar ground and whose oral history format this book replicates. Robert Morast, "Argus Leader," Sioux Falls, SD
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

This intense oral history traces the life of a rock icon so enigmatic that few knew he was gay. The Germs had released only one album, G.I., before their leader, Darby Crash (ne Paul Beahm), 22, OD'd in a suicide pact (the other participant survived). His death, covered in detail here, just enhanced the Germs' cachet as protopunks. The book's compilers--Germs drummer Don Bolles is one of them--also serve up a lot about early West Coast punk, reported by a virtual punk who's who, sans, perhaps refreshingly, Henry Rollins, but including Jello Biafra, Exene Cervenka, Phranc ("America's Favorite Jewish Lesbian Folksinger"), and two who figured massively in the love triangle that, among many other factors, precipitated Darby's last exit, Gerber ("Queen of L.A. Punk") and Rob Henley. Evocative as hell of the punk ethos ("Part of the $400 [for the overdose drugs] was my rent money," mourns Ella Black), not least because of scads of photos of baby-faced adolescents (some nude) trying to look ugly. Mike Tribby
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Feral House (April 15, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0922915709
  • ISBN-13: 978-0922915705
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #803,469 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Trent Reinsmith on May 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
Anyone that has any passing interest in LA/American punk has heard the names Darby Crash and the Germs. The songs of the Germs (Darby Crash/Pat Smear/Lorna Doom/Don Bolles) have been heard for almost 25 years. The image of Darby and the Germs live in the film Decline of the Western Civilization has been visible for almost as long. In the years since his death in 1980, many tales have been told about Darby and the life he led. This book attempts to clear up some of the confusion and offer the story of Darby from people who where there with him. Band members, family members, hanger on's, hustlers, and scene makers all contribute in this recount of the life of Darby Crash.
The charm and allure of this book is that it is not a one-sided biography of Darby. Lexicon Devil is not presented as a "this is how it was" history. Instead, the three co-authors Adam Parfrey(Feral House founder), Brendan Mullen(founder of the Masque) and Don Bolles(drummer for the Germs, Vox Pop, 45 Grave and Celebrity Skin) compile a huge number of recollections and piece them together in chronological order. Lexicon Devil shows how a young man transformed himself from Paul Beahm to Bobby Pyn to Darby Crash and finally to death. This approach bears spectacular results. It allows the reader to see the same occurrences through multiple eyes and perspectives. And while this approach may not be the norm in the world of biographies, it is a style that works in this case; Darby Crash didn't live a life that can be pinned down in a one-dimensional conventional biography.
So was Darby a Manson like cult of personality? Was he a David Bowie glam rock wannabe? Was he a troubled genius? Was he a drunk? Was he a junkie? Was he gay? Was he a suicidal mess? Was he a hustler looking for a handout?
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Robert B. Morgan on March 15, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
this book is super but be warned, i bought it years ago and loved it, bought a copy recently and it has been censored..nude photos are re edited and i worry the text has been altered..not cool..try to buy an old used copy to get the orignal...bob
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 7, 2002
Format: Paperback
Rest assured, this riveting chronicle of the brief rise and ugly eclipse of Jan Paul Beahm, aka Darby Crash, will not make you dream how romantic your life would have been as a first generation punk rocker in the late 70s. By the time the average reader has traversed the nearly 300 pages of damaged life documented here, they'll want to take a shower to wash off all the dried blood.
Wrapped with a stunning color photo (by Ruby Ray) of Darby in a filthy San Francisco dressing room, this book captures all the mayhem, the confusion, the broken glass and the shattered brains that a film like "The Decline of Western Civilization" only offered a fleeting glimpse at. Lexicon Devil is pure oral history, with the spit, vinegar and vomit right there alongside the vitriol. In this case, a thousand words are worth a lot more than one picture (although the book contains a goodly number of the latter that have never been seen before).
It's no wonder the cesspit of HelL.A. played home to a tragic tale of this sort. It's the stuff California is made of-the slime behind the hippy new age façade. In their few years of existence, the Germs captured something almost profound, although they themselves might not have realized it at the time. This book captures the Germs and Darby Crash in a way that will not likely be surpassed.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By sabrina stevenson on December 4, 2004
Format: Paperback
I love The Germs. I love this era of punk rock. I love that Southern California had it's own punk rock cult leader . We went to the same high school! I like how this book portrayed Darby as kind of nerdy and idealistic. I appreciated that he was such an earnest fan of David Bowie,searching for hidden meanings in his lyrics on LSD. I was also fascinated by the strange relationship with his mother. I thought the book did an excellent job of humanizing an "icon". I could really see and feel him as a disturbed young man creating work that still has profound ripple effects.
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30 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Nicole Panter on September 25, 2010
Format: Paperback
No stars, this is purely revisionist history with an agenda

Reviewer: Nicole Panter from Venice, CA USA

This book is a steaming pile of revisionist history "written" by two people who didn't ever like Darby very much. I managed the Germs for two of the three years they existed (the crucial GI period) and despite what the authors would have you believe, I did not cooperate with them in any way whatsoever -- to do so would have been a violation of my friendship with Darby Crash. All the "quotes" attributed to me are cannibalized from old interviews, chopped and channeled to suit the way the "authors" wished to present me -- in an extremely negative light.

A measure of the disingenuousness of this project is the fact that Mullen thanks me in the acknowledgements, a ploy designed to lead the reader into believing I cooperated with them. Along with Lorna and Pat I have kept my mouth shut over the last 20 years and watched those who were very much at the periphery of what, in hindsight, has become a glamorous place to be place themselves at the center.

Don Bolles has spent the last 23 years trying to spin his involvement with the band into something bigger. He was the 3rd of 4 drummers (luckily for him during the GI period). Darby and the others disliked him intensely and Bolles never, never, never had a voice in the creative life of the band. Mullen has spent years trying to flog his completely sensationalized, tawdry version of events to anyone who might buy it, in any form possible -- script, book, whatever.

In light of the fact that I am untruthfully portrayed in this book, do I regret my non-cooperation with the "authors"?
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