First-time filmmaker S.A. Crary couldn't have picked a more apt title for his vivid and complex history of New York's art-punk scene. After all, how do you draw a timeline of a movement for which the point is and always has been to consciously rebuke what came before you? In Crary's case, the answer is to simply let the players reflect in the moment, which they often do with as much of an eye toward subtle subversion as toward any kind of objective truth. "We weren't trying to make music, we were trying to be monsters," says Teenage Jesus & the Jerks bassist Gordon Stevenson. He gets support for such claims from bandmate Lydia Lunch, DNA's Arto Lindsay, Glen Branca, Thurston Moore and others from the late '70s/early '80s art-punk explosion. Exclusive interviews with these originators and a new generation of practitioners -- from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to Black Dice to Gogol Bordello -- reveals a consistent hunger for invention through subversion, motivations that come into cacophonous focus in the new and archival concert footage bridging the interviews. What also comes out is a depth of retrospection amongst the older generation that puts the younger generation's musings in a context that will surprise even the most plugged-in of scenesters. By documenting art-punk in the same spirit as the movement itself has played out -- he directed, shot, and edited the film himself for less than $300 -- Crary has created a compelling reference for a movement that defies them, and managed to stay true to its spirit in the process.
S.A. Crary was born on the island of Oahu in 1978. He learned how to march before he learned how to dance, and he held a gun before he held a girl's hand. Crary now resides on the island of Manhattan, where he lives a hermetic life as a writer and visual artist. He began making films in 2001. Some of his idols are: Jean-Luc Godard, Francis Bacon, Simone Weil, Leonard Cohen, Fernando Pessoa, David Lynch, Franz Kafka, Tom Waits, Leos Carax, Oscar Wilde, and Claude Debussy.