Born Frustrated by Michael Essington

28 Feb
Gordon Ison

Gordon Ison

Born Frustrated

Born Frustrated

This week we have a guest columnist, writer Gordon Ison, who some may be familiar with his great blog 50 & Broke! (, if not check it out.

It was twenty years after the fact before I learned my septuagenarian uncle’s Doo-Wop group performed at the same concert hall as my eighties punk band. Nowadays he drives a late model Caddy to his own business, still cranking out the music of his era from rolled down electric windows. I’ve often wondered when I’m his age; will I still be cranking the We Got Power/Party or Go Home Mystic Records American hardcore compilation from my own sweet ride while shaking my fist and hollering along to Willful Neglect’s “Eat My Shit & Die”?

Michael Essington came up in that same early West Coast punk scene and now as a father, a husband, and somebody’s uncle is still a part of it to this very day. In his third novel, Born Frustrated A Memoir, Essington describes what life is like before, during and after this heyday, taking us back to when your haircut could be cause to get you, cut-up…or worse. All at once silly, somber, sardonic yet still anti-social, Essington writes about life as a punk-rock dad in palatably staccato short bursts of affable anecdotes.

Broken down into seven chapters, with titles like; Now You Know What It Is To Want and There’s Mongoloids In The Family, he takes us down a potholed memory lane where we familiarize ourselves with the plight of a man who knows you cannot tiptoe around an issue, especially in a pair of steel-toed boots! Aside from the usual money, religion, and politics, he also ponders aloud about caring more for animal rights than human ones, the media’s engagement in Orwellian newspeak, as well as trying to figure out the best way to convey the drugs are bad! message conversationally to his young son. At times, you can picture a smirk or even a wince as he lights up another Cuban looking out into the burning L.A. County dusk.

Inspired by more writers than I’m allowed to list here, Born Frustrated completes the triumvirate of narrative essays in novella form with the first being Last One To Die followed by Life Won’t Wait. I’m a bit somber myself at having to begin with the last one, but in the immortal words of the band Kraut sometimes “You gotta go backward to go onwards.”

Gordon Ison played in the band Grievance Committee from 85-91. Check out his blog at;




Broken is available now:

One Response to “Born Frustrated by Michael Essington”

  1. 1
    Eddie Cook Says:

    Great book!

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