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Los Punks: We Are All We Have

Teens in South Central and East Los Angeles fight back with backyard punk shows

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Punk rock has proved a durable form of musical expression, because, let’s face it, there is always something to be angry about. Especially when you’re young and when you’re already feeling disenfranchised like the teenagers, most of them Hispanic, in Los Angeles’ hardscrabble eastern and southern communities. Angela Boatwright’s on-the-fly doc catches up with these kids and their lively DIY scene, consisting mostly of backyard concerts. It’s a world where a 15-year-old near-homeless girl is a budding impresario, and a command of social media can bring out hundreds for a night of noisy camaraderie and raging against the system. Boatwright doesn’t probe too deeply, but the positive energy of the events is cut through with sadness, frustration and likely too much alcohol. Says one punker: “There are not a lot of options in the hood — what else are you gonna do but escape?”


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