Community Music Punk Rock

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:

Like them on Facebook:

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

Community Education Punk Rock

Lighting a fire in the mind, a stirring in the soul!

White Board

“Drink deep, it’s just a taste, and it might not come this way again. I believe in moments, transparent moment, moments in grace when you’ve got to stake your faith.” Guy Picciotto singing Drink Deep” by Rites of Spring

To me, Punk Rock is about being educated. Perhaps not on the surface to some, but when you dig in, challenging the status quo is about claiming difference and when you embrace the difference you’ve become, you have to think it through at some point. The music, the people, the protests were all initiations for examining life, for critical reflection, for asking difficult questions. Searching that ultimately lead me into the classroom.

Scott Cheshire, author of the forthcoming novel High as the Horses’ Bridles, recently shared with me a story about seeing Mike Watt perform once: “This was 1997, at The Point, for the Engine Room record (which is still a mind blow of a record), and before the show started he had Coltrane’s Sun Ship playing over the PA and I asked myself, ‘What is this? This is crazier and more punk rock than anything I’ve ever heard.’ Then the show starts and it’s amazing and I’m there with my brother and friends, and I actually remember telling myself that I was so happy to be in a room full of people, and some who I loved, and when it was over, Watt told the whole audience (as he often does): Go home and read as many books as you can, and listen to as many records as you can, and then start a band, or make a painting, or write a book.”

To me this is what Punk Rock is all about. Not just the bands, but about lighting a fire in the mind and a stirring in the soul, creating the conditions that spark creativity, authenticity, and expression. After many trials and journeys, I ended up in the classroom, to do just this, inspire and educate.

The beginning for me was here:  Friday nights in Richmond, VA in the early 90s skating in the 7-11 parking lot, getting coffee at the Village, heading down Grace Street to see what was going on at the Avail house, or taking in a show at the Metro or Twisters. Many of us were idealistic, fired up, and passionate. Richmond is a college town, home of Virginia Commonwealth University, a confluence of ideas and people.

For me, that was a period of change, growth, and becoming. I was embraced by a community of caring passionate folks that instilled in me a sense of curiosity, compassion, and depth of feeling towards the world at large. From the kitchens of Blue Point Seafood, to the streets of the Fan, the campus of VCU and Shockoe Bottom, I learned to be open to new ideas, to be real, and to share what I know.

I believe this scene, this time of punk rock and Richmond hardcore, created the conditions that ultimately led me to becoming a teacher. I didn’t take the straight path; I wasn’t even sure then if I would go to college. All I knew at that point in my life was that I wanted to be in a band.

First Five ThruFortunately, I met four other guys who shared a passion for music and knowledge. They taught me about Fugazi, Rites of Spring, Public Enemy, Parliament/Funkadelic, and so many other wonderful groups. Essentially the music we listened to and created (our band was called First 5 Thru) was a study in authentic creative self expression and the role of justice in our culture and society. Big ideas!

The blogs that I will write will explore this story, of how becoming a teacher was ultimately the most punk rock thing I could do. I hope to share not just my story, but the stories of those in the trenches with me, folks I have met along the way, and what I see as the challenges and possibilities of education in our country. I hope you all will keep reading and chime in. Lastly, but of much importance, I would like to dedicate this blog to the memory of India Mara Stanley, who will be my guide and mentor as I write.

Here are links (following flow of blog):

Folks Interested in the band Rites of Spring or Fugazi should check out Dischord Records

“Salad Days: The DC Punk Revolution” Documentary

Similarly, here in Atlanta, we have a record label which I am proudly associated with that has documented the underground rock and punk rock scene in Atlanta.

Moodswing Records:

Scott Chesire, Author

MIke Watt of the Minutemen, punk rock legend, has a website as well as a radio program Watt from Pedro

Interestingly – the paragraph about Richmond is captured musically in a song by my current band the expats

The song is called Back In ’86 and can be heard here

The Richmond VA Punk Scene 70-90s Facebook site

My first band First 5 Thru has recordings on Soundcloud: