"http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> LAST ONE TO DIE
By: De Fen
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.