by Joshua Finnell
Tattoos are like a passport, a record of the roads a person has
traveled over the years. They are also a publicly displayed philosophy,
articulating the wearer’s worldview in swirls of ink. For interviewees
in this book, “the Bars”-the iconic four-barred logo of punk band Black
Flag, designed by Raymond Pettibon-signify their deep connection with
the punk scene. Writer and photographer (and punk fan) Ebersole, through
numerous interviews and photographs, explores the ways in which this
symbol is given meaning, convention, weight, and philosophical narrative
by its adopters. For some the tattoo is a sign of a larger ethos; for
others it signifies an awakening or turning point in their lives. In
sum, the individual narratives collectively suggest that “the Bars” are
larger than Black Flag, symbolizing a punk rock code for standing
against the establishment and being true to yourself.
VERDICT Ebersole successfully employs the frame of Black Flag to assess the social and cultural impact of “the Bars” across countries and generations. If you have four vertical black bars tattooed somewhere on your body, you will enjoy this book.