Arts Desk

DC Punk 2008 Part 2: John Stabb

Second in a series of 6 articles, movie buff John Stabb of G.I. on his favorite film and show of 2008.

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Best film: Iron Man. Surprisingly a far better comic book superhero story than the latest Batman one, The Dark Knight (even though Heath Ledger's wonderful portrayal of The Joker was creepy-crawly cool!) which could've been as good as Batman Begins. I'm not down with the comic book live action genre, but this one won me over. Robert Downey Jr. turns in his best acting job in eons as the cocky moneybag industrialist playboy who invents a big-ass iron outfit to take on the villains.

There really was very little action and making-things-blow-up-real-good special effects in this and that made it cool to me. I always prefer more storyline in my film fare. Everyone's favorite baby-namer/actress Gwyneth Paltrow as Downey's assistant babe, Pepper Potts, was more than likeable for this non-Gwynnie lover. I don't know about you, but I've been so annoyed by the Hollywood popcorn movie machine taking something like the Incredible Hulk and turning him into a gigantic dumb cartoon with all their oh-so-clever CGI nonsense. Or placing baby-faced Tobey Maguire in a Spider-Man costume just to get the Teen People reading girls to make it zillions at the box office. So I have to commend director Jon Favreau for keeping it real, yo! And most of all, thank you Mr. Favreau for bringing back an amazing character actor like Robert Downey Jr. when all most folks in tabloid-land can only remember the talented chap as the "drugged out nutlog who kept getting arrested or turned up in a child's crib."  When I was a mere lad, Iron Man was not in my comic book collection but after seeing this I have to say (with apologies to Ozzy) "I am (an) Iron Man (fan)."

Best live gig: Gray Matter (all original member reunion), Black Cat, 7/11/08:  I'm truly not fond of what I call the "punk rock must pay my rent" reunion tours; Dead Kennedys (there's no "Holiday in Cambodia" without any Jello Biafra), the Misfits (where's the Danzig?), the Jam (I'm not 'avin it when the Modfather Paul Weller's not "Running on the Spot"), and the Undertones (only Feargal Sharkey can provide the "Teenage Kicks"). So why are so many of these old punks doing shows without their original frontmen? To paraphrase a Clash song, they're all hoping to "Rob the Cashbox." But the guys from that '80s Revolution Summer sensation Gray Matter weren't doing it for the bread. It was to help celebrate Black Cat's 15th Anniversary, so this sounded like a winner to a punk geezer like me.

In fact a huge percentage of the turnout was a bunch o' punk geezers from the "Heyday of HarDCore" circa the '80s. Man, it was cool to see Cat owner Dante Ferrando behind a set of skins drumming up a racket. Sometimes it's easy to forget how great of a drummer that fellow is when you see Dante just walking through his club checking out the night's festivities. Singer/guitarist Geoff Turner looked a mite brawnier (tossing in his big hippy curly 'fro for a Rollins-taught buzzcut!) and sang even stronger than I remember from his younger years. The emotional (and let me be the first to say "Fuck that 'emo' tag along with the jackass journo who coined it!) angst and intensity was still in full force as he belted out most of their debut release, Food for Thought, the entire Take It Back EP and pieces from Thog.  And then there's bassist Steve Niles taking time out of his busy graphic artist/writer (did anyone know that Niles wrote the screenplay for the film 30 Days of Night?) schedule to do this show and Ace guitarist Mark Haggerty, both rocking out the evening.  How can you go wrong? From the garage-y punk of "Caffeine Blues" to their over the edge Rites of Spring-inspired roar of "Head," they still managed to have a fun time.

John Stabb sang in the seminal DC hardcore band Government Issue, and The Factory Incident.

All contributors to this series were guests on DISSONANCE, a DC punk oral histories show on Radio CPR. John Stabb's interviews can be found here and here.

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