Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

The Heebie-Jeebies at CBGB's

It's 6:30 a.m. on a dark, dreary Northwest morning. No need to go to work. Nu, so why am I buzzing my way through a discourse about Jewish American women and the birth of female punk?

The answer is Steven Lee Beeber, who at first glance has taken a far-fetched and farblondjet (Yiddish for mixed-up) premise and turned it into a straight-ahead fast ride. His premise is simple: no Jewish Americans, no punk rock. Such a loss! (I jest.) But it's how he makes his argument -- beginning with Lenny Bruce and ending with John Zorn -- that will engage and propel even readers initially disinclined toward this raucous music.

No picture book, this. But Beeber is an original thinker with an impressive gift for sociology, psychology and gossip. I may die without knowingly hearing the Ramones, but I get their place in this secret history. (Read an excerpt describing the home life of young Lewis Allen Reed, aka "Lou.")

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit