Bookstore fills with punk fans

Laura Schocker

The nine folding chairs set up at Comix Revolution, 606 Davis St., on Sunday afternoon were still empty 15 minutes before the start of Joe Meno’s reading of his third novel, “Hairstyles of the Damned.”

Although Meno, 30, joked that Comix Revolution’s staff was optimistic about the turnout, it turned out that the nine seats weren’t nearly enough, as enthusiastic fans filled the bookstore and overflowed onto the floor and windowsills and even stood when necessary.

The event was co-sponsored by Northwestern’s Undergraduate English Association and also brought author Anne Elizabeth Moore and Dan Sinker, editor for Punk Planet Magazine, to Comix Revolution.

Meno’s “Hairstyles of the Damned” is a bittersweet recollection of growing up punk in Chicago while dealing with the pressures of divorcing parents, attending a strict Catholic school and finding an acceptable date for the Homecoming dance.

Meno, a Chicago native, read two excerpts from the book that centered around the protagonist’s friend Gretchen — a fat, foul-mouthed, pink-haired girl with a habit of beating up her schoolmates.

In Meno’s reading, the protagonist struggles with seeing Gretchen as more than a friend and debates how to tell her about his developing feelings for her. Ultimately, Meno’s character decides to make Gretchen “a mixed tape and then she would fall for me.”

Evanston resident Timothy Steinman, 16, said he related to the main character’s struggles.

“When I was younger, I made mixed tapes,” Steinman said. “Now, I make mixed CDs.”

Meno said teenagers like Steinman remind him how music changed his own life growing up.

“Music introduced me to a world of possibility that I didn’t know about,” said Meno, adding that bands and writers need to continue making art to inspire the next generation.

The program began with a guest performance by Chicago-based punk band PAL.

Dan Sinker of Punk Planet spoke after PAL’s introduction. Sinker, 29, decided to write one letter every day to President Bush, starting the day after the 2004 election, until the day after the following election.

“If I was going to have to live with George Bush for the next four years, he was going to have to live with me,” said Sinker, an Evanston native.

Sinker read a series of letters from the first few weeks of his four-year mission that will culminate in more than 1,400 letters. He discussed the events of his daily life, often interjecting scathing criticisms of Bush as a person, husband, father and leader.

After another performance by PAL, author Anne Elizabeth Moore read from the preface of her book, “Hey, Kidz! Buy This Book.” Moore said it serves as a guidebook for middle schoolers to becoming more involved in political activism.

The preface contained an anecdote about a middle schooler who lit himself on fire after watching a stunt on MTV’s “Jackass.” Moore discussed the deceptiveness of the label “reality TV,” citing the differences between reality and television.

Moore finished by cautioning that “we must find a way to mediate our media.”

Comix Revolution’s owner Jim Mortensen, 32, a Chicago resident and Northwestern graduate said he thought the program was probably “the best signing we’ve ever had.

“Everyone seemed to be having a really good time,” he said.

Reach Laura Schocker at [email protected].