No Punks Are Safe in The Hard Times: The First 40 Years

A collection of satire in advance of the imminent apocalypse is just what the doctor ordered.

Before Matt Saincome was running The Hard Times, he was editing these very words.

Well, not those words exactly, but Saincome was SF Weekly’s music editor before leaving to launch his punk satire empire. What started as a website in 2014 has grown into podcasts, festival appearances, merchandise, and, on Oct. 29, a book.

The Hard Times: The First 40 Years offers Saincome and his staff (full disclosure: I contributed to The Hard Times in 2016) an opportunity to go back through the site’s “archives” and offer takes on all of the day’s biggest punk and hardcore news from the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s. There’s no need to brush up on your punk history to appreciate headlines (and ensuing articles) like “Saddam Hussein’s Abandoned Spider Hole Now Iraq’s Most Popular Punk Venue” or “The Postal Service to Cease Playing Shows on Weekends.”

This collection also features a number of the site’s best contemporary articles as well, including subversive treasures like “New Version of Garage Band Exports Songs Straight into Trash” and the subtle brilliance of “Father John Misty Cancels Concert After Disappearing into Own Asshole.” It’s also probably prudent to mention that every Hard Times story, including the above item concerning Papa Misty, has original artwork that’s often just as funny as the words they complement.

The Hard Times: The First 40 Years is probably not the best book to buy your grandmother — unless your grandmother happens to have a thing for GG Allin.

The Hard Times offers comfort amid today’s endless news cycle of shootings, corruption, and environmental catastrophes. There is a genuine catharsis to be found in takes like “All Warped Tour Stages Moved 100 Feet From Audience to Comply with Sex Offender Laws.” Sometimes we need humor to heal, and this book has as much of the former as you could possibly hope for.

It also includes interludes reminiscing about the “old days” and a playful aesthetic that at times borrows from zines and includes one-offs like the illustrated “How to Shoplift with Wendy O. Williams.” It’s unclear how many punks actually have coffee tables, but The Hard Times: The First 40 Years is a book you’ll want to revisit and show your friends whenever they come over.

Be sure to mark your calendars for Wednesday, Nov. 13, at 7:30 p.m., when members of The Hard Times’ staff will take questions and sign books at Green Apple Books on the Park (1231 9th Ave).

The Hard Times: The First Forty Years

Edited by Matt Saincome, Bill Conway, and Krissy Howard.
Oct. 29, Mariner/HMH

Five Other Books We’re Excited About This Fall

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

Sept. 10, Nan A. Talese

In the wake of Hulu’s critical success for their televised adaption of The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood — the masterful novelist responsible for the book that inspired the show — is returning with a sequel of her own that promises answers to questions “that have tantalized readers for decades.”

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Sept. 24, One World
Arguably the most highly-anticipated release of the fall, The Water Dancer marks the first foray into fiction for acclaimed essayist Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me). Set on a plantation in slavery-era Virginia, the story of Hiram Walker is one we’ll be discussing for years to come.

Face It by Debbie Harry

Oct. 1, Dey Street Books

Blondie frontwoman Debbie Harry finally pulls the curtain back on her iconic career with a memoir that takes readers back to the glory days of 1970s New York City punk while also giving insight into Harry’s work as an advocate for the environment and LGBTQ rights.

Find Me by André Aciman

Oct. 29, Farrar, Straus and Giroux

When Aciman’s 2007 novel, Call Me by Your Name, was adopted into an acclaimed feature film, fans clamored for the story to continue. Find Me takes place decades after the Italian summer where Elio first met Oliver to question whether true love can ever really die.

Little Weirds by Jenny Slate

Nov. 5, Little, Brown and Company

At long last, beloved comedian Jenny Slate is releasing an essay collection that promises to be as peculiar and hilarious as her fantastic work in projects like Big Mouth, Kroll Show, and Obvious Child.

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