My fellow Atriots know that in that forum, we are lucky enough to share the company of a poster from (oops! not New Mexico, but) Arizona known as GWPDA, a smart and funny woman who shares her domicile with a big dog named Arthur and has a thing for comfy chairs. And really, really dislikes Pergo. (As it turns out, engineered wood is comparably priced, so I'm there.) GWPDA is not, in fact her name. In fact, it is an acronym of her place of employment: she's an historian who works in the Great War Primary Documents Archive.
When I was in high school, I took AP classes in English and History, and the history exam included something called a "Document-Based Question." It was absolutely my favorite part of the exam. (Many years later, as I teacher, I saw that DBQ's had been integrated into the regular curriculum and was immeasurably cheered.) They basically collected a series of documents which they presented to we infant researchers without comment, then asked us to draw a conclusion, write an analysis based on them. Ours was on whether WWI had helped or hurt the nascent German aircraft industry. How many of you can remember a single question on a single exam taken 21 years ago after which you got well and truly plastered? Thought not. Obviously, this had a profound effect on me.
I've always loved primary documents. There's something about in-the-moment commentary, taken without reflection, that tells the story differently, lets one see the implications and possibilities inherent in a historical moment or a cultural movement.
Which leads me to the PPPDA.
The Power Pop Primary Documents Archive is under construction. Currently, I'm collecting old 'zines, and if anyone has any to share, I'd love to see them. Send me pdf's, send me jpegs, anything. I start from Bomp!, because I have to start somewhere, and the late Greg Shaw did as much as anyone else to create the moment I want to focus on in my book.
BOMP! was a magazine published out of California. Genuine pop fanatic Shaw started in the mid-60's with Mojo-Navigator Rock and Roll News, one of the first magazines to take rock and roll seriously--and very influential on Rolling Stone and Crawdaddy. (Its relationship to Creem is a bit more complicated, but it is always, always mentioned in company with such publications.) By 1970, Shaw had moved on to found Who Put The Bomp--later just Bomp!--well, enterprise. The mag, irregularly published, was always cool. (Shaw published Lester Bangs' long screed "James Taylor Marked for Death" in 1971.) It became a label, a movement. Bomp! was a true labor of love from someone who loved rock and roll enough to take it seriously. And Shaw saw power pop as one of the most important movements in rock in the 1970's. Good history, with pdf's, etc, here, at the Bomp! Records website.
And so the PPPDA starts with Bomp! I'll be putting up selections of Shaw's writing on the movement, looking mostly at those crucial years from 1977-79 (that's late Bomp!, for you guys playing along at home....), when he was convinced power pop was going to be the next big thing, then it wasn't, then it was. It's a fascinating on-the-ground report from the one who knew it best.
More to follow.