City Paper is not for tourists
Standout Track: No. 1, “Unsafe at Any Speed,” which clocks in at an explosive 2:23. Led by Allison Wolfe of Bratmobile fame, D.C. punk veterans Crystal Bradley (drums) and Angela Melkisethian (guitar) let loose with a cheerleader-style chant of “Un! Safe! At! An! Y! Speed!” instead of a traditional chorus.
Musical Motivation: Wolfe says the song is a critique of Ralph Nader’s approach to activism, which the 36-year-old singer had been pondering since attending an event promoting one of the politico’s books. His suggestion that young people join organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union, she says, “seemed kinda old-fashioned…Like, what about spray-painting the walls and rioting in the streets?”
In a similarly hands-on approach, the band recorded Girls With Glasses in five hours in Melkisethian’s bedroom in Columbia Heights, where broomsticks and tape stood in for microphone stands. The EP was mixed in a bedroom, too. “It was a total bedroom recording—just different bedrooms all over town,” says Melkisethian, 28.
Bedroom Bliss: The disc’s opener reveals Wolfe’s own direct-action plan for Nader: “What about my Body Rights?/For the right to yours, I’m gonna fight/You can’t deny, you know I’m right/You know I’ll take you home tonight!” The 71-year-old Nader “fits my old-man fetish,” explains Wolfe.
Wolfe met him once, at the funeral for labor-union activist Tony Mazzocchi in 2002. “I got a little tipsy, and my friends knew I had the hots for Nader,” she says. “For $50, they dared me to go up to him and say, ‘I bet you’re unsafe at any speed.’” She chickened out, but, she says, “I circled around him a few times.”—Rachel Beckman