Wow! Heavily researched and packed with information that has been carefully woven into an intricate narrative tapestry, Aaron Lange’s Aint It Fun: Peter Laughner & Proto-Punk in the Secret City is a heaping hunk of history. While Peter Laughner is a special focus of the book, his presence is perhaps best described as the most pronounced thread in this magnificent tapestry of the power and the glory of the 1970s Ohio Scene that centered on Cleveland.
A visually oriented concatenation of text and illustration forge a quasi-comics presentation of key moments and crucial information that has not been widely disseminated and is largely unknown in the rest of America (or even in most of Ohio, for that matter!). Ain't It Fun takes readers from the roots through to the branches of the 1970s Ohio counter culture – particularly its vastly underrated music scene that gave birth to Devo, Rocket from the Tombs, Pere Ubu, The Deadboys, The Pagans, The Waitresses, The Bush Tetras, and so many more – along with being the home state of Chrissie Hynde and Lux Interior – but that also gives space to a wide spectrum of culture, including Harvey Pekar and Robert Crumb (who, yes, has a Clevelend connection).
Given Ohio’s association with conservatism and “the right”, the history revealed in Ain’t It Fun shows these qualities can inadvertently provide a fertile ground for cultural revolt by demanding – or provoking – an intelligent response. That the Kent State shootings of 1970* were the pivotal event that likely was a prime catalyst for the rebellious and at times even nihilistic stance of the Ohio Scene is shown here by the way it is incorporated into the the narrative thread. Ain’t It Fun provides a mountain of information, of the best kind, in an engaging and accessible manner and a easily absorbable form. Aaron has done the world a great service by creating this document. The real right stuff is here. This is a great place to start for anyone looking to learn more about the history of punk, 70s music and the Cleveland/Akron scene, and, really, the essence of America itself.
softcover w/French flaps | 444 pages | black & white
*which were also the subject of fellow Ohioan, Derf's massive and moving 2020 comics documentary, Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio