Ed Lin is a persuasive guy who will not be denied. Back in 2018 when my friend and prolific novelist was promoting Ghost Month, he wouldn’t stop asking if The Linda Lindas would play his event in Pasadena. As if that wasn’t enough, he had the gall to request that they play a Joy Division song because his book’s antihero loved the Manchester band so much he called his noodle stall Unknown Pleasures! I hemmed and hawed, and said “Why would you want a bunch of kids to play your grownup event?” and “They haven’t even played a proper show yet!” But Ed was relentless. And now he is a trivia answer for the hardest core fans of the band: Whose book release did The Linda Lindas play a couple weeks before they made their official debut at the Save Music in Chinatown show with Phranc, Ford Madox Ford, LP3 & The Tragedy, and The Horseheads?
But when Ed asked me to write an introduction to his new book, there was no convincing necessary. He explained that his friend who ran the BooksActually shop in a Singapore wanted to print a story that was serialized on the old Giant Robot website. And Kenny was a big fan of the magazine that I helped start and spawned the site. Wow. Who gets asked to write a forward to a book? Who even gets a couple bucks out of it? That would be me, and I immediately told Ed I was going to blow all the money on the Bad Brains reissues.
Here’s what I submitted, and hopefully they fixed all the typos and mistakes:
I am honored to not only re-introduce Motherfuckerland to the world but be part of its first proper presentation in dirty, grainy, foldable, and Post-Itable print. It was first serialized by my friend Ed Lin on the Giant Robot website in 2012––a couple years after the zine that I edited published its final issue. But the saga of Sean Kerry is the opposite of slick cyber content. Not having eye-catching art to make it skimworthy, not being a listicle of bite-sized sketches of pop culture, and pretty much the opposite of erotic fan fiction, I wonder how many people actually read it online?
Although Motherfuckerland was a humble effort shared with the handful of loyal weirdos in the Robot Lounge, the pages you are now holding are packed with everything I love about Ed’s writing. A reporter by day and writer by night, one might look for and find unflinching, hyper observant slivers of Sam Quinones or Joan Didion. But to me his work is closer in spirit to DIY punk zine publisher and novelist Aaron Cometbus––stripped down, straightforward, low-key punk, and free of bullshit with poetry coming not from clever wordplay but the swirling undercurrents of just plain life.
I could swear there’s some Repo Man in there. Our hero is a suburban kid in a dead-end job surrounded by other oddballs with dead-end jobs but set in Lin’s sleazy New Jersey boardwalk instead of cult film director Alex Cox’s mutation of early L.A. punk. As Sean smokes out, just gets by, and is eventually forced to choose a path, his peers provide glimpses of what it means to be an actual outsider instead of a slacker. There’s also a brief-but-important (to me) conversation contrasting local products The Boss, Glenn Danzig, and Bon Jovi that compels me to imagine what the soundtrack to Sean’s story might include. In addition to being one of my favorite living writers, Ed has excellent taste in music.
Don’t get your hopes up. A movie won’t be coming any time soon or ever. But at least we have this book to put on the shelf alongside our favorite paperbacks, magazines, videotapes, records, and everything else that celebrates the lowlifes, badlands, and bittersweet truths of Motherfuckerland.
Thanks, Ed! Thanks, Kenny! I look forward to hanging out when the pandemic is over. Everyone else, buy Motherfuckerland straight from the source at the link below for just 25 bucks. If you are a high roller, get the signed copy with an obi for 50 and let me know what it looks like!