J Hunter Bennet
To be succinct and forward, Prodigal Rogerson is an extremely fun book to read. J. Hunter Bennet tells the journey of Robertson and those which he ensnared in his tumultuous wake propagate stories of shock and disbelief. The adventures of this tornado in human form, unable to disengage from self-destruction, were repetitive and sad. Watching a man with such talent and energy, and later, such paternal instincts, was crushing. Robertson’s time in Circle Jerks was limited, yet fervently vibrant.
Prodigal Rogerson is told to its audience by collecting comments, stories, and narratives from those who knew him. The juxtaposed chronology which Bennet utilizes adds tension and suspense to what we know is self-inflicted demise. The return of Robertson to his Jerks, a decade later, when punk goes big is disheartening. The reader has to wonder why fame and money were more rewarding than a nurtured, vibrant scene. While some would claim the access to the drugs could be the most obvious answer; clearly, Robertson saw the material compensation as a manifestation of proof of worth. Praise and respect were sought, but his impulses conquered his actions. Rogerson craved a tangible, flashy reward instead of emotional gratification.
Hearing that one step-son had no desire to be interviewed is not surprising when reading the melee that followed Rogerson. The more surprising element of the book is the step son that did talk, harbored no negative memories or resentment. He spoke with reticent grief about Robertson excessive drinking, but still saw a light in the man. And as we hear about the small bar band Rogerson started in his domestic years, one he knew would not reap fortune and riches, the reader is allowed to peer into Rogerson’s love of music. Looking back, the Circle Jerks seem to be such an avenue, injecting passionate electricity into L.A.’s youth. Why could not he find value in the Jerks’ music?
Still the tolerance of Hetson, Lahrer, Morris and others were amazing. The shit that Robertson pulled and the downright thievery is painful to read. Rogerson clearly was battling the monstrous shadow of his father, the eluding definition of self, and a yearning for accolades that continued to escape. As he moved on to the Hollywood Hills and soap opera stars safe rock bands, Rogerson seems to evade an allaying lifestyle. His demons, and undiagnosed mental illness, gnawed at his desires.
The book is 115 pages, able to be read in one sitting. The easily digestable conversational approach is welcome. But, in no way, is it dismissive or simple. Anytime I can read something and picture Keith Morris’ voice in my head, I will jump in that opportunity. Bennet does a solid job collecting interviews and editing them. The stories are remarkable and opens an insight into one of the greatest scenes in musical history. The Circle Jerks were masters of honing anger and spite with their sardonic view of the upper class and status quo of such a defining American era. The Circle Jerks were a perfect counterpoint to the yuppie and materialistic culture of the USA. Prodigal Rogerson gives us a chance to dissect the factors that created that.
Microcosm continues to delve into an American Subculture and unearth idiosyncratic tales. Microcosm paints images, this time via Bennett, defining the individual stories of this broad spectrum of punk instead of general histories of a forty year subgenre of rock and roll. Bennett wonderfully illustrates Rogerson’s pinball existence as he struggled through bi-polar disorder and addiction. Bennet’s work here is an essential read for any punk.