Having seen the film “Positive Force” last December, I see this as a natural companion piece to an important part of punk rock history. Salad Days: A Decade Of Punk In Washington, D.C. (1980 – 90) tells the story of the birth and rise of the Washington D.C. punk scene and the words come straight from those who played crucial roles in its genesis: not surprisingly, Ian MacKaye, Alec MacKaye, Henry Rollins and so on – this isn’t a story that you haven’t heard before. But at least here, the recollections are coming from those who spear-headed the movement themselves.
Built around a turbulent time in the Nation’s capital, D.C. punk came on the heels of bitter disappointments with the government, a spike in crime and drugs and a general malaise that settled over Washington at the dawn of the 1980’s. Beginning with Bad Brains and rise of Minor Threat (formed from the ashes of Teen Idles), along with the formation of MacKaye and then-Minor Threat drummer Jeff Nelson’s Dischord Records label, D.C. punk forged a scene that itself helped give rise to an organization like Positive Force, through the messages in the music and the manner in which the community (at the outset) was all-inclusive (teens, etc.). Make no mistake – this wasn’t a Utopian community – misogyny, etc. did manifest itself – but at least they tried to do something of merit. A perfect example was putting on shows which featured both punk bands and go-go bands (think Trouble Funk, etc.) on the same bill.
While the documentary itself comes off a little dry (and I have heard before/am well familiar with the story), it’s still an interesting enough tale to merit checking out. So do look for Salad Days for a deeper glimpse of D.C. punk.
*photo of Void by Jim Saah