"How long will punk rock last?" asks a disembodied voice at the beginning of "The Slog Movie." The answer, from a 12-year-old kid: "Forever." In 1981 -- when "Slog" was made, that seemed like an utterly absurd insistence. The L.A. hardcore scene was a hotbed of isolationist nihilism, less concerned with social change than complete social dissolution (check Circle One's "Let's Get Rid of Society" for clarification of the concept). Director Dave Markey -- of "Desperate Teenage Lovedolls" fame -- was in the thick of it with his "We Got Power" fanzine and as much a part of the scene as the bands that made the music. "Slog" is neither a documentary nor a standard rock movie. There's no narrative, few complete performances and, with all due respect to the D.I.Y. mindset, little quality control. Raw audio and Super 8 footage doesn't do much to diminish the power of any of these bands (Black Flag, Sin 34, T.S.O.L., Circle Jerks, Redd Kross ... you know, the greatest bands ever), but it doesn't do much to enhance it either. Yet Markey's deft, quasi-psychedelic touches add an element of artful permanence to these flailing gestures of youthful desperation. Twenty years later, it seems that punk rock will indeed last forever. And to the kids who were actually kids back then who have watched two decades go by while fists were pumped and slogans were shouted to no avail, that's a wholly depressing notion.
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