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Within the walls of Brother Rice, an all boys Catholic school in the suburbs of Chicago, Brian Oswald sits in his American History class listening to the droning voice of his teacher and taking notes: “American History can suck it. The U.S.A. can suck it…the whole fucking school can just fucking suck it.” Brian’s notes in American History depict the lying undercurrent of Joe Meno’s novel Hairstyles of the Damned.

Brian's notes, although ineloquent, outline teenage life: Brian is frustrated, full of angst, confused, awkward, lost, and in love. Brian, in this coming-of-age story about developing identity, slowly finds his way into the punk-rock scene, driven there originally by his best-friend Gretchen, the girl whom Brian is in love with. Gretchen, a slightly overweight, rebellious punk provides Brian with an escape from his house. A sexually driven teen who always seems to be getting in fights, Gretchen is in love with a twenty-six year-old, not Brian. Constantly making mix tapes, Gretchen is still trying to cope with her mother’s death. Whether belonging to the punk scene or not, anyone who has ever been a teenager can relate to Brian’s life with situations ranging from watching his dad sleep on the couch night after night until finally his parents split-up, being bullied in school because he’s a “nobody,” to getting a “monster-size erection” while hanging out with the girl of his dreams—his entire life is all that is considered embarrassing and uncomfortable during one’s teenage years.

Throughout the novel, Brian comes across multiple friends with whom he forms a strong connection, for, as an outsider, close friends are not easy for him to come by. Rod, a nerdy black student; Mike, a stoner burnout; Dorie, the girl next-door; and Nick, a delinquent skater are all outcasts like Brian and all contribute to his journey towards finding himself and what is truly important in life. From stealing his dad’s combat boots and shaving his head to wearing Misfits t-shirts religiously, Brian becomes immersed in a world of acceptance and of belonging, a place where no matter who you were you could, as in the words of the 7 Seconds, the first punk band Brian ever saw, “walk out of here together, punks and skins.” For Brian, this music gave him the chance to "change some things” in his life; through this music and this scene Brian saw a fresh start.

After growing up and seeing a school divided into jocks and cheerleaders, burnouts and punks, outcasts and rich-kids, blacks and whites, Brian has an epiphany at a Halloween party during his senior year. On a day on which people dress up to be someone other than themselves Brian sees through all the awkward situations, loneliness, anger, and longing and takes one step closer to finding who he is on the inside and why people choose to act the way they do. He realizes that “it was Halloween every day, for most people anyway, just to feel like they weren’t alone, to belong, just to keep being happy…”

If you are or at some point in your life have been a teenager, read this book. If you like music (of any kind, not just punk), read this book. If you’ve ever been in love, been rejected, and/or had your heart broken, read this book. If you’ve ever found ways to escape reality (perhaps through getting stoned, drunk, or simply by driving around listening to the same cassette-tape over and over), read this book. If you’ve ever felt pissed-off and horny, read this book. If you’ve ever stolen something for fun or gotten into a fight, read this book. If you’ve ever cried or have been unhappy, read this book. If you’ve ever rebelled against authority, read this book. If you’ve ever had a best friend, read this book. If you’ve ever wanted to scream at the world from the rooftops, read this book. If you’ve ever had that sinking feeling inside that creates a numbness no therapy, counsel, or drug can overcome (whether you’d like to admit it or not), read this book.



TO LISTEN TO A HAIRSTYLES OF THE DAMNED PODCAST CLICK ON THE BOOK COVER
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Joe Meno, at the age of thirty-three, has allready written four novels. The first, Tender as Hellfire, was published in 1999. He also has a collection of short stories, an online serial which runs through playboy.com, short works of fictions that have also been published in many magazines and reviews. Along with witing, Meno also teaches creative writing at Collombia College in Chichago.

His influences range from a numbe of other authors to music. Some of the fellow writers that Meno turns to include Donald Barthelme, Alessandro Baricco, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and William Faulkner.

Meno's writing reflects much of the music that influenced his life. Meno now ia contributing editor to Punk Planet magazine. He even draws from the traditional touring concept of music, where a band hits the road for a few month to promote their record. Rather than promoting a record Joe promotes his books. He calls it very, "Do-It-Yourself". "To me, going out on tour is a really important part of getting the book out there," Meno tells Douglas Light of Small Spiral Notebook. Meno's whole concept of Hairstyles of the Damned was to be all about the music. He even wanted the structure to be somewhat like a mix-tape.

In Hairstyles of the Damned, Brian is constantly is constantly listing Bands and listening to music throughout the book. The concept of a mixtape is brought up quite offten. Whether it is Gretchen making Brian a tape or him trying to maker her the perfect tape. The songs on a mixtape are ment to convey how someone feels about someone else or the feelings that they themselves are feeling. This is just a list of pictures and some samples of the bands that Brian talks about the most (click on pictures to listen to music samples).

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!!!!WATCH INTERVIEWS ON WHY THE DEAD KENNEDYS WERE SO INFLUENTIAL AND THEN WATCH THEM PERFORM LIVE FROM PARIS, FRANCE!!!! (click on picture at right to view)












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  • The Boy Detective Fails (2006)
  • Hairstyles of the Damned (2004)
  • Tender as Hellfire (1999)
  • How the Hula Girl Sings (2001)
  • Bluebirds Used to Croon in the Choir (2005)
  • The Secret Hand[[Teaching Controversial Texts|]]

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