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It was a surprise of mixed emotions when I looked at the cover of a recent issue of the Washington City Paper. Bad Brains was the subject at hand. I should have been happy, although other stories published by the City Paper in recent years have insulted me and my perceptions of where D.C. is culturally. But I did not even read the whole articleI got real fired up thinking to myself about how the people at your papertransplants from New York, Boston, or whereverdid not appreciate D.C.’s music scene and Bad Brains themselves when they were around.
People that I have come across in this area now don’t even appreciate the bands that were influenced by Bad Brains. They do not even appreciate or acknowledge those bands that were influenced by other harDCore bands and spawned from everywhere. Bad Brains’ descendants range from Rage Against the Machine and Po Emcces (even) to a gazillion other punk and hardcore bands after them. I know the article was trying to pay some respect to Bad Brains and the rest of the D.C. hardcore scene, of old at least. I was surprised that authors Mark Andersen and Mark Jenkins even had the decency to put our hardcore or punk scene in the same category as New York or London’s. I grew up in this area. Everyone I knew from everywhere classified the D.C. scene (at one time) as being similar to or even better than the punk scenes in the Londons, New Yorks, and Bay areas out there. Not that competition really matters, but you should remember this.
Unfortunately, I get livid when I read articles that your fakes asses have published over the years. Like when I read “New York Fetish” (8/1/97) or “Love Knows Color” (11/21/97). Stories like that were portraying D.C. as a Southern, racially segregated, culturally challenged, unhip town. It would, of course, never produce an awesome, positive, intense, leftist, anti-racist punk band from Southeast. The scene would not have a scary but respectable group of black, white and even Latina punks and skins, either. They were at times as violent as other punks and skins in bigger cities. It was not so bad if you weren’t looking for trouble.
I am no expert on punk and hardcore. I saw shows here and there and have a modest collection of vinyl tapes and CDs. I have D.C. and general classics: DK, Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Suicidal Tendencies, Scream, Dag Nasty, Black Flag, Sick of It Allyou know, the basics. I realized later that real Washingtonians, even as unpunk as they could be, knew Bad Brains was local and classic. That band alone ended the argument of whether D.C. (and its surrounding suburbs) was a sleepy Southern town that had nothing going for it but politics. It was the end-all roots or continuance to the anti-racist or “hardcore not hatecore” side of the real punk and skinhead scene everywhere. I met New Yorkers who talked about HR as if they would blow him if they saw him in person. You would not know this when you read cheesy self-hating articles in your paper ranking on other local bands now. Sometimes, you just rank on your own city culturally too much. These bands are now doing their best to bring back the fire Henry Rollins, Minor Threat, and Bad Brains gave us.
There is also a new Latina punk band out now. It is “the Spanish version of Bad Brains,” from what I hear. Nobody knows enough about it. Your paper will continue to write lame articles that insult me and my perception of where D.C. is culturally. But it’s not too late to follow up on this band that has crossed into the Spanish community. Tell everyone about them. Because of your paper, I’m so out of touch that I forgot its name.
All in all, whoop-dee-doo: You’re just now discovering Bad Brains!