Tricksters and Punks of Asia
and Punks of Asia (ISBN 978-616-90336-2-2, Fast Track Publishing (Thailand),
2010) is another new book from Phil Nicks (probably not his real name, but
just another of Nicks’ tricks).
The first part of the book attempts to explain the
phenomenon which was called “punk”, with images of Johnny Rotten and Sid
Vicious of the Sex Pistols coming immediately to mind.
As well as pure punk (if that’s not an oxymoron), Nicks
brings in free thinkers and ‘outsiders’ and those mavericks who just don’t
fit in, and their creativity and ways of expression that these groups and
individuals have available to them.
Nicks writes, “The goal of authentic punk is freedom of
creative expression; and their enemies are found in limiting restrictions
and standards, interfering control and manipulation, and outdated or unjust
systems. Pseudo punk is driven by nihilism, commercial exploitation,
insanity, political extremism, criminality and juvenile delinquency … (it is)
characterized by immaturity, emotional reaction, rebelliousness and brazen
provocation with intent to offend or cause harm.”
One can debate the definitions, particularly when author
Nicks uses The Sex Pistols as examples. Johnny, Sid and the boys showed in
my opinion a complete lack of uniqueness, and quoting from Nicks’ book, “The
Sex Pistols were clotheshorses for (Dame Vivienne) Westwoods’ designer punk
outfits which were retailed from the partner’s Sex Boutique on London’s
Fulham Road.” Hardly ‘original’ expression.
The second half of the book is devoted to the tricksters,
and much is made of tricksters in the publishing business, but perhaps a
little too much is made of Nicks’ good-guy publishers, which becomes almost
a paid advertisement.
Faith or ‘fake’ healers from the Philippines are examined,
with a former impressing Nicks, though most were of the latter group. His
descriptions of Manila show it as a place not appealing as a backdrop for
The second half of the book is not as thought provoking
as the first, with much being stories of people being duped in business
dealings, followed by some items which only loosely fitted into the title of
tricksters of Asia.
Good glossary and bibliography at the back.
This book is a much deeper treatise and philosophical
examination of today’s society than the cover would have you believe. Never
judge a book by its cover they say, and this one proves it. Mr. Nicks, or
Fast Track Publishing, what in the name of Beelzebub possessed you to use
seven fonts to write “Tricksters”? Use of multiple fonts is much loved by
Thai designers, but produces illegible wording, which cheapens the product.
It is neither original nor ‘punk’. Redesign the front cover, then go and
read the information on using white letters on black backgrounds (David
Ogilvie of Ogilvie and Mather did it all for you) and redo the back cover
and present the book again. It will sell well. In its current format it will
be passed over, which is a shame. The first half is worth reading,
especially as it mentions Wile E Coyote, one of my all-time anti-heroes. B.
495 through Asia Books, Kinokuniya, MK Book Services and Amazon dot com.