There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
While most artists are woefully inarticulate about their own work, it rarely prevents them from speaking out. This is especially true in rock—which makes The Little Black Leather Book of Rock ‘n’ Roll (Arsenal Pulp Press, 92 pp., $4.95, paper) an entertaining, quick read. The 4-by-3-inch minivolume is a compendium of quotations on “the mythology, sensation, and hype that is rock music.” Loosely organized under headings such as “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” are several hundred observations from Adams, Bryan to Zappa, Frank. Rarely is any context provided; the remarks range from instructive (“Music can’t change the world”—Bob Geldof) to delusional (“A lot of Michael’s success is due to timing and luck. It could just as easily have been me”—Jermaine Jackson) to just plain nuts (“Christ was a punk rocker”—Billy Idol). But what makes this of local interest is that on Page 14, just below Mitch Miller and Rolling Stone editor Jann Wenner is D.C.’s own Ian MacKaye. The Fugazi stalwart weighs in with this heady maxim: “I made a mistake thinking that rock ‘n’ roll had something to do with being intelligent and not accepting society as it was being given to us.” Confronted, MacKaye laughingly admits, “Lord knows, I probably did make that mistake.” Unable to exactly place the phrase, he figures it was taken from a fanzine, where his interviews “tend to be conversational.” As to being included with the likes of Tipper Gore and Madonna, MacKaye says he’s more “resigned” than ecstatic. “I guess there is some invisible thread that does tie us together,” he muses, adding, “It’s a strange fraternity, indeed.”