Now, while I’m too cheap to pay the collector’s price on old issues of Punk, I’ve read them all at one point or another over the years at the homes of friends and stores who didn’t mind an extended perusal. In that sense, the book was a great purchase. Cheap ol’ me got a bunch of the material that I had long coveted, but the best part of The Best of Punk were the chapter lead ins written John Holmstrom. So much of drawing on influences is looking at a final product and asking “How’d they do that?” It’s a deconstructive process… y’know… flat out guesswork. Each chapter of the Best of Punk begins with John’s perspective on the creation of each issue of Punk, each of which either affirmed for me some of the things I’ve done with Nix and (better) showed what else I could try.
So, what aspects of Blondie were brought to light to me that warranted promotion?
The first Best of Punk revelation was that Blondie went out of their way to seek ubiquity within creative communities. I think everybody knows that they were equally at home at in dark narrow hallway of a bar at CBGBs as the glitzy dance floor at Studio 54. That’s the lore of it. What the Best of Punk illustrated was that Blondie (Fair to the rest of the band or not, shorthand for Stein and Harry from this point forward.) was more than at home, they were involved in promulgating of their creative peers from all extremes of New York City creative scenes. Blondie took an “all boats rise with the tide” approach to their peers.
The second was that they were strong contributors to Punk Magazine. Debbie Harry graces the pages innumerable times and both Harry and Stein seem to have more often than not served as both sounding boards and cheer leaders to the Punk gang. While certainly much of this was done in quid-pro-quo fashion by a band needing to build an image and a message, the fact that Blondie recognized Punk Magazine as a valid venue for image building shows uncommon insight and dedication to a peer group. That they continued to work with Punk once their sun began to break the eastern horizon shows legit love and generosity. Basically in a symbiotic relationship with the fledgling magazine Blondie created a persona without indulging in the overt sell out to commercialism of contemporaries like Kiss or Devo. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of Devo, but every new tchotchke they put up for sale sure seems to reek of “we secretly hate you.” I’ll pass on the multi-colored energy domes thank you!)
Blondie has always been worthy of fandom because in that they have style by the mile, but at the same time aren’t afraid to poke fun at the very notion of style. Just look at the jacket for “Parallel Lines.” Super smartly dressed, good looking people over a high mod background, and yet half the band is wearing crappy old chucks. A terrific “YOU better take us seriously, even if we don’t always bother to take ourselves serious: statement. What’s added for me now is depth of character. Blondie went out of their way to show that there is a kinder, gentler side to “Success isn’t what you do, it’s who you know.” Creativity can’t exist in a vacuum. Beyond that, nothing breeds creativity like joint effort by as many different types of artist as possible. Blondie clearly gets that.