John Joseph - The Evolution of a Cro-Magnon [book] (Cover Artwork)

John Joseph

John Joseph: The Evolution of a Cro-Magnon [book]The Evolution of a Cro-Magnon [book] (2007)

Reviewer Rating: 4

Contributed by: misterspikemisterspike
(others by this writer | submit your own)


The black-and-white photo on the cover is both menacing and contemplative. To some, the face cradled by folding hands and caressed by shadows looks ready to jump out of the photo and throttle your head to the pavement–Just Becauseâ?¢. To others, the lined face and strong hands show a spiritual strength to match the brawn. Ladies and gentlemen, meet the various sides of John Joseph: thug; criminal; street urchin; punk rocker; Cro-Mag; ...Krsna devotee.

The Evolution of a Cro-Magnon starts with a bang, not a whimper. The reader is immediately sucked into a world where family abuse, drugs, and crime rule. Joseph goes through his family history and introduction to street crime, as well as various foster homes and incarcerations all within the first 50 pages. What follows is 400 more pages of stories that are alternately frightening, enlightening, and unbelievable.

While Cro-Magnon may seem suited only for adherents of punk music and whatever philosophy they may ascribe to it, it is more. Much more. The chapter detailing Joseph's experience with the Valenti family is not only reminiscent of Dave Pelzer's A Child Called "It", but warrants a movie script of its own. This chapter, in and of itself, is terribly hard to digest. Not for the writing, but for the content. It's extremely difficult to not put the book down, as the tale being told is repugnant and worthy of ire and disgust in even the most passive of readers.

Simply put, the emotional and physical abuse endured by Joseph and his brothers is more than enough to fill anybody's nightmare closet. Locked on/in a patio and/or garage? Check. Eating Alpo? Read all about it. Spit-up Oreo sandwiches? The recipe is in there. And just when you think the book is falling into a "woe is me" tome, Joseph also explores his Krsna faith throughout. Reconciling his own earthly desires with Krsna philosophy, his internal struggle is fascinating. He shares just enough dirt on the Cro-Mags and the nascent hardcore scene of the early-to-mid-'80s to make readers continue turning pages– as well as stories of searching for his own spiritual faith to make the hardest person soften and begin to look within.

John Joseph's story is one filled with trash, dirt, poison and, most importantly, inspiration. Fans of his music should seek this book out. Non-fans should find it and pass dog-eared copies along to others to Inspire. Whether you know John Joseph, or notice the book on a shelf, you can't help but be drawn to its candor. Recommended.


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
bud_boomer (February 24, 2011)

i'm very curious about this.

survival...of the streets!

istapledmyfoot (February 24, 2011)

good review, and to the dude below me, "where to buy" already exists and it is called google.

discofucker (February 23, 2011)

Any idea on where to buy this for not outlandish prices?

I haven't really looked; busy at work, but any help is appreciated.

Maybe PN can add in a little "Where to Buy" addendedum on reviews with links and what not. For big releases, obviously it isn't important, but for smaller releases and oddballs like this, it would be pretty helpful.

Just a thought.

FLHC (February 23, 2011)

Back when hardcore bands actually had a real struggle to be singing about

pavexparadise (February 23, 2011)

I read this last year, such a good book. Very intense I couldn't put it down. Definitely recommend this.

irish_punk_is_gimmickry (February 22, 2011)

i got to read this.......................................

overdefined (February 22, 2011)

I plowed through this book. Such a great read, even if you're not a fan of the Cro-Mags.

Hd (February 22, 2011)

I got sucked right into this one. Couldn't put it down for the first few hundred pages but this guy really started to shit me after a while. In the end I thought Joseph was a bit of a dick. He had an interesting life but he was a cock.

publichousing (February 22, 2011)

Such a great book.

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