Salad Days – an inspiring documentary about Punk Rock, Hardcore, Social Activism, and the scene in Washington during the 80s and early 90s.

usa_district_of_columbia_117928To say this documentary is well done is an understatement. It exudes the integrity and quality of the very scene it documents and captures the exuberance, growth, and growing pains of a unique place in time and important part of our musical and political history. Scott Crawford and Jim Saah have created a grounded portrait of the scene in their documentary.

Watch this trailer now:

Notice there is a download link under the trailer; this documentary is worth every penny and then some!!

The title of the film is a reference to the song Salad Days by Minor Threat. In the song, singer Ian Mackaye rails against stagnation and complacency decrying that “salad days are a lie”.   The expression salad days being a term to denote a better time, a heyday, or a youthful peak.


For me, one of the most inspiring moments in the documentary is when Positive Force Co-founder Mark Andersen says “Salad Days … that’s not then; it’s now! It is always now! So go! Make it real now!!”

Positive Force is a group for positive social change in DC and beyond and you can find out more about them here: Positive Force

The music of DC and the benefits for Positive Force were such a formative influence in my life and many of my friends. We were there, at the shows, bringing our bands up from Richmond or the Beach, playing in Dupont Circle, the 930 Club, the Black Cat, house shows, and loving every minute! I made many great friends that I am proud to still be in touch with and inspired by their continued efforts to make the world a better place.

While I was only 12 during the revolution summer, that ethos lingered in DC and Virginia and inspired so many of the bands I love and political action that sparked a lifelong passion for social justice. I can truly say that the seeds for eventually becoming a teacher were planted back then.

I was also pleased that the film honored the connection that DC Punk Rock has to reggae music and Go-Go music. Learning about these wonderful sounds captivated my soul at any early age and informs and comforts me to this day!

Additionally, I am glad the documentary gave voice the expression of women, as the eventual Riot Grrrl movement made a significant impact on me and my peers. I remember many a fanzine made by a friend!!

As, I am more grounded in Fugazi, Hoover, Shudder to Think and all the bands of the 90s, it was awesome to see some of the earlier footage of the DC scene. Those shows were the stuff of legend and sometimes I was lucky enough in the late 80s to go “skating” in DC and catch a show or two but by the 90s I was definitely getting up to DC to see shows as much as I could and was always honored to play shows with Dischord bands there and in Richmond!

This is a great documentary!!

You need to watch it!

You need to support the artists and purchase it!

To find out more check out:

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and go start your own band, or school, or social movement now!!


Review of the Clibber Jones Ensemble “3+3 EP”

coverFrom the explosive opening percussion of the first song KCB to the transcendent melodies of Accepting Hardships as the Pathway to Peace, the Clibber Jones Ensemble come out swinging on the “3+3 EP” with thoughtful music that is exciting to listen to.

On the first track, KCB, the band is fueled with a passion reminiscent of the aftermath of Carnival in Rio or a night in New Orleans. The repetitive rhythmic lines are minimal at times but harkens to the traditions of composers like Karlheinz Stockhausen and Terry Riley, but with a punk rock edge. The bass playing reminds me of David Sims from the Jesus Lizard and it is so refreshing to hear vibraphone and flute laying down melodies.

The heavy opening of the next song, 1997, reminds me of DC hardcore; very driving, very rhythmic; hypnotic in the best sense. The guitar playing adds a nice sonic wash that would make Greg Ginn proud. The expressive entrance of the saxophone hits me in the stomach every time and with the support of the keyboards is very moving. In addition, the sax spirals out to a playful melody mindful of Charlie Parker; Salt Peanuts!

The interlude in the middle of 1997 sounds likes the Clibber Jones Ensemble is searching for something, creating a musical tower of Babel that is cerebral but entertaining. It is always a pleasure to hear music that’s written in time signatures other than 4/4; 1997 being predominantly in 6/8.

Tim Clibber JonesThe third track, Accepting Hardships as the Pathway to Peace, has a lighter feel with an almost 80’s introduction courtesy of some crafty guitar playing. The saxophone starts out a little lighthearted playing with the rhythm once again, but soon blossoms into a beautiful solo that is played on soprano saxophone and very reminiscent of late John Coltrane. Two thirds into the track the song becomes very uplifting and melodic; just transcendent followed by a minimalistic breakdown that sets up a screaming end once again recalling Coltrane from the One Up One Down era.

For the final three tracks, the Clibber Jones Ensemble has friends remix their songs to great effect. The KCB remix is lovely and clear, looping the soprano sax and yielding a drum and bass trip-hop feel. The track sounds like there’s a record spinning in the background as if there is a DJ remixing the song on the fly.

The next song is a remix of the driving 1997. The remix starts off really percussive and upbeat, almost like something Outkast might do. I like that it starts with the saxophone first melodically then the guitar saving the bass to slam into the song while still maintaining the hard driving integrity of the line. This is arrangement would sound good performed by the ensemble proper. This remix almost has a kind of twisted eastern European puppet show on the square in the wrong part of town at the wrong hour of night feel.

The final track is the remix for Accepting Hardships as the Pathway to Peace. I love the straight forward driving beats with the descending melodic lines; this is a really great remix and I would love hear Clibber pull it off. The middle section almost reminds me a little of the band MGMT with the octaves in the keyboard and using that wonderful sax solo is a nice touch. This morning when we were eating breakfast and listening to the “3+3 EP”, my children had to get up and dance to this remix. I can really see the Clibbers in their green kicks, some funky shirts, and cool hats dancing to this one. I want to see the ensemble perform an interpretive dance for this remix at one of the shows.

Clibber Jones

All in all, the Clibber Jones Ensemble “3+3 EP” is a great release!

Support local music!

You can check out the  “3+3 EP” on iTunes

Why Punk Rock?

Bulletin BoardIn my previous post, I mentioned that teaching is one the most punk rock things I could do; but why punk rock? Why as a point of reference and self identification should I choose such a penetrating and specific label to connect my love of teaching to community?

The punk rock I am talking about is not concerned with image and ought tos. We are not talking about the Sex Pistols or the Clash. We are talking about the sustained attitude of the DIY (do it yourself) ethos of American punk rock and hardcore over the last 40 years. The punk rock I was exposed to in Virginia Beach, Richmond, Washington D.C., and Atlanta was grounded in a political awareness of the times (80’s & 90’s), the possibility of authentic sustainable community, and a determination to break new ground.

Yes, many of us grew up and we have different views about the world, the role of government, community, leadership, economics, and education but this vital energy, this spirit of change and can do, affected many of us before we entered institution and career and we would do well to remember how much we wanted to help the world!

I see punk rock intersecting education in the following ways:

  • Teaching and embracing a DIY ethos, a self responsibility for learning and creating. As Mike watt would say Jam Econo!
  • Resisting the increasing commercialization of the field of education and the false analogy of education to business and its subsequent organizational models.
  • Connecting the politicians and policy makers to the classroom and putting positive pressure on them to make compassionate and innovate decisions that are well informed from a broad base of constituents and are unique and appropriate for their situations.
  • Creating radical and vibrant educational spaces that encourage joy, creativity, and innovation.
  • Resisting the over quantification of education and the boxing in of teachers with subjective metrics.
  • Organizing, communicating, and connecting with one another so that we may be stronger together than we are on our own!

Together we can create positive change and the time is now to reclaim our schools. I believe the solutions are really in each of us, especially the teachers, the majority of whom are beyond dedicated and have been in the trenches long enough to know what is needed.

It is important to note that I do not want our conversations here to be just about punk rock (or for myself to be only defined as punk) but rather we can use the shared cultural wisdom of the ethos of punk rock to re-energize and revitalize the discussion of education in our country and particularly what to do about it.

We have a responsibility to redirect the educational conversation in our country back to what is going right and how we can make improvements rather than to echo the constant critique of media, corporate interests, and the mandates of the state. We all come from many backgrounds, cultures, and have different points of view but by embracing one another and working together we can make a difference!

Let me know what you all think and chime in!

Until next time,



In doing research for this blog I got wonderfully distracted by the following:

Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991

Our Band Could Be Your Life is a well written look at influential bands from ‘80’s and ‘90’s. Anyone growing up then and listening to the bands in this book would probably enjoy it.

Edupunk as coined by Jim Groom. The term itself is debatable, as Groom will admit, but the concept around it is spot on. While primarily a higher education movement, many of the points raised by Groom and his peers are applicable to those of us in K-12 education.

Here is a good conversation between Jim Groom and Gardner Campell and the idea of a bill of rights (for teachers!) has been on my mind a lot.

Jim Groom talking about what is Punk Rock – Open ed – to open resources for the world on the web not as a repository or closed space

Jim Groom”s keynote for open ed conference 2011

Steve Wheeler

I also found this link showing open ed resources: