Last One To Die is a chronicle of Michael Essington's
time spent in the late 1970s through mid 1980s Southern
California Punk Scene. Essington is likely best known for
his writings in Spark Plug, Flipside, as the author of the
Mike Check column in Strange Reaction, and lead vocalist in a
short lived punk band called Cold War.
Essington's Last One To Die opens with a description of
his charmingly eccentric family, lower middle class
upbringing, divorced parents . . . essentially, a socio-
economic recipe for the makings of a punk. There are
literally too many fist-fights to count as Essington embraces
punk culture and aesthetics and feels the backlash from the
more lockstep status-y quo-ish types. These fights, and run
ins with the cops that have become all too familiar scenarios
for anyone in any outsider community are nothing short of
hilarious, as Essington relays them. Anecdote after anecdote
is punctuated with the type of characters that are so
complicated and grotesque that they are almost hyper-real.
Essington, the unapologetic, good-natured ball of rage
finds something that resembles peace with a life changing
event, and manages to hang on to his punk rock ethos. It's
always inspiring to read memoirs from punks who were there
for the first wave and as bleak as the third wave has been,
are still holding on. Last One To Die offers some sharp
criticisms of the Hot Topic age, yet remarkably not so sharp
as to cut anyone too deeply. The last third of Last One To
Die is a collection of Essington's best show reviews and
interviews, including a great interview with Rikk Agnew of
the Adolescents, D.I., and Christian Death.
I wish Michael Essington great success with this work of
his, and likewise with his future work to come.