PAPER magazine


Subterranean homesick blues.

By Steven Blush

For nearly two decades, Glen, E. Friedman's noted photo work has served as a historical log on seminal suburban/urban subculture. From his earliest days as a 13-year-old skateboarder photographing top mid-late 70's skate icons like Jay Adams and Tony Alva, to his documentation of the burgeoning early-80s hardcore punk scene (captured in the '82 cult soft-cover classic My Rules), to his high-profile work as a renowned hip-hop photographer (most notably, the legendary album jackets for Ice-T's Power and Public Enemy's Yo, Bum Rush the Show), Friedman has kept his finger on the pulse--not for fame and fortune but as a vital lifeline. Thanks to the help of many of his music scene compatriots like Rush impresario Russell Simmons, Fugazi's Ian MacKaye and Beastie Boy Michael Diamond -- Fuck You Heroes over 100 full color pages of Friedman's memorable photos, has come to light.

Friedman finds common ground among the rap, punk and skate subcultures he's so rapidly explored over the years. "They're all communicating alternative viewpoints," he says. "It's rebel youth culture -- young people doing what they want to, and being very creative with it. All the people I know from skateboarding the 70's got into punk rock after that. By 1983, most of the punk rock bands had fallen apart. But at that same time, there was hip-hop as the new rebellious art form; black people yelling about what the fuck is goin' on, and making their own music with scratching. It was a continuation of that punk credo."

Few people today can discuss American hardcore punk rock history with the accuracy and veracity of Friedman. "Punk rock is now just a sound," he relates with a tinge of nostalgia, " and that's legitimate to a lot of people. But back then, we had no other outlet. Sure there was a lot of preaching to the converted, but punk was where you could express ideas. The reason I've done this book is because subculture ain't what it used to be. Because of the media and the hunger for information in the world these days, subculture becomes pop culture very quickly now."

So why Fuck you Heroes? "Even though they're all my friends, they're also huge heroes to me, and I honestly think they should be recognized as heroes in this society. They say "Fuck you" to everyone and everything they are not into. They say "Fuck you," when they don't agree with what someone else is saying. They don't give a fuck about the standards that people before them have set.

"I'd like people to get something out of this book," Friedman candidly explains. "For people who don't know, it's to get an understanding of where these subcultures really came from. For people who've already been involved, it's to remind you of what got you interested in these things in the first place. Putting this book together just made me feel so great to remember where I came from."

Photographs form Fuck You Heroes will be on display at the Thicket Gallery, 44 Lispenard St., from Sept. 13-Oct1.

Paper Magazine
Sept. 1994