You’ve heard of ‘big in Japan?’ ” Steven Lee Beeber said with a laugh. “I’m big in the other former Axis power.”
Beeber’s book The Heebie-Jeebies at CBGB’s, first published in the United States in 2008, was a bold revision of punk rock history, studying punk as the creation of a bunch of leather-jacketed Jewish boys from Forest Hills, Queens. (…)
German punk fans were into “the wild hair, Johnny Rotten style of look and the screaming and the rebellion, but missing a lot of the humor that was part of that.”
Instead, German audiences have preferred Beeber’s take on the darkness lingering at the heart of punk rock: “I think the disturbing element of punk is what interests them more, maybe for all the right intellectual reasons. So that they do respond in my book to the parts about how punk is a reaction to horror, to the Holocaust.” (…)
The evening does not quite work out the way he had hoped. Everyone, it turns out, is part-Jewish or has Jewish relatives, or at least says they do.
“Apparently Hitler was right,” he remarks, deflated. “We’ve watered down the race considerably.”
Germans’ newfound Jewish roots, real or feigned, are indicative of a society that seeks to embrace the exotic foreigner as a means of partially deflecting their historical guilt.
“Everybody had some sort of Jewish background, somewhere,” says Beeber. “It seemed to me that it was like ‘I couldn’t be part of the horror, because I was on some level a victim. We were one of you.’ ”
When I got chucked out The Clash they couldn’t get it right anymore, and Bernard [Rhodes, Clash manager] would say “No, no do it like Mick!”
When I’d left they were shouting at the new guys and Bernard would turn to Joe and say, “See, Immigrant Blood!” because Bernard had a similar back ground to me, and he believed it was all in the blood [laughs].
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