Filmage: The Story of the Descendants
directed by Matt Riggle and Deedle LaCour
starring The Descendants
It’s depressing to watch all the punk rock idols of my youth join up for AARP and start showing pictures of their grandkids and great-grand kids. But that’s life; I, too aged right along with them. L.A. punk may have begun in the froth of Sunset Boulevard, but it quickly dribbled down to Hermosa Beach and Huntington Beach and points south and more Republican. The Descendants as good a case as you can find for the clean-cut all American rock and roll in the late 1970s. They fished and boated and wrote screaming peans to parental indifference and tween age hormonal angst. They played so hard their pants fell. They played dive clubs like The Starwood and got arrested and had fights. They played hard and loud and had great lyrics, and reached a peak when Milo Aukerman signed on as vocalist. Aukerman’s caricature became a trademark for the band, and overall, this was a classic SoCal punk band. They were prolific, hardcore, and had a solid fanbase, including myself.
As punk rock documentaries go, this one is typical. Childhood eight-millimeter footage mixes with police reports and club riot footage. The Descendants were highly respected in their disrespectful persons. They had hit albums – not hits in terms of gold records on the wall, but hits that sold out entire pressings. Collectors loved there 45s with their distinctive “Milo” artwork and clean musical production values. Successful as they were the band broke up and reformed several times and ran through musicians as fast as any other punk bands. Things hit a low when Frank Navetta died unexpectedly, the band has been less up and more down in the intervening years. This documentary shows a tight knit group of friends who mostly stayed to gather over the years. The music is rough and energetic, and the story flow is brisk and always on topic. Punkers may cover their tats and get jobs in banking, but their never ever really grow up, and why should they? The pier and beach are still there, and you can always find a drummer.