HARLEY FLANAGAN - Hard-Core: Life Of My Own
January 17, 2017, a year ago
Harley Flanagan, the controversial New York Hardcore (NYHC) pioneer and founder/bassist/vocalist of the Cro-Mags, tells it like it is in his gritty memoir, Hard-Core: Life Of My Own. Boasting a “Don’t fuck with me” attitude, Flanagan holds nothing back throughout its 448 pages. From his first published book at age nine, to being the drummer in his aunt’s punk band the Stimulators at age 11, to forming the Cro-Mags in 1981 while still in his teens, Flanagan experienced way too much at an early age. The beginning of the book focuses on his dysfunctional childhood, which includes his discovery of drugs and alcohol at an early age and his exposure to rampant violence in his neighborhood on the Lower East Side (LES) of New York. Sometimes Flanagan’s tale is so outrageous that it sounds excessively exaggerated and almost unbelievable. But Flanagan’s not one to mince words.
Flanagan’s natural speaking voice is successfully captured within the book’s pages as if he’s just shooting the shit with one of his friends. Not only is Flanagan describing his life experiences, but he’s also sharing the cultural history of New York City as well as the musical history of NYHC, in which Flanagan almost single-handedly created. The most interesting parts of the book is when Flanagan talks about the Cro-Mags, the making of his band’s albums and subsequent tours, then finally his devotion to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. But the moral of Flanagan’s story is how a 7th grade-dropout skinhead hooligan kid from the LES has successfully become a devoted father of two boys, became a black belt instructor of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and just released a solo album early this year. Throughout the book, Flanagan often exclaims that it’s a miracle that he’s still alive, and by completing this book (in which he started writing back in the ’90s) brings closure to parts of his life. Warts and all (along with some vulgar language), Flanagan makes sure that Hard-Core: Life Of My Own is a brutally honest read.