On Oct. 24, 2000, Dischord Records released No Kill No Beep Beep, the classic debut by Q and Not U. The cover is an arresting, whimsical snapshot of the punk-rock community that spawned the record—the band asked its friends and peers, most of them under 25 at the time, to pose for a portrait that would show D.C. wasn’t just a town of old punks. In this week’s Washington City Paper, Q and Not U’s members reflect on their rookie achievement. On Arts Desk, we’re catching up with some of the community Q and Not U immortalized.
Over the past 10 days, we’ve talked to nearly everyone involved in No Kill No Beep Beep. We covered a lot of ground, unearthed a lot of memories, and delved deep into the annals of post-punk history. Now it’s time for some closure, and expert storyteller Matt Borlik provides just the tale for the occasion.
After living in D.C. for 10 years, working here at City Paper and later editing The Onion‘s A.V. Club DC, Borlik moved to Philadelphia this year. He now writes for an NPR-affiliated blog called The Key via WXPN, but when he left the District, he wasn’t exactly sure what he was doing. It was a day filled with uncertainty, but it ended with a nice surprise. Borlik tells it best:
My last day in Washington, D.C. was a weekday. The house I was living in was empty, nobody was home. All my stuff had been boxed up, and I was just bringing it outside into a moving van that was parked in the back alley. It was kind of sad because it was totally quiet, and I didn’t have any help because it was a work day. It was just me moving all of this shit out of this house into a moving van. I was moving out of D.C. after being on one street, living in three different group houses in one stretch of Mount Pleasant.
I’m pulling down the door on the back of the van, and who walks up but fucking Ian MacKaye. He lived like a block up the street. He says, “I thought I saw some hockey sticks in the back of that van. If there’s a bass cabinet and some hockey sticks in a moving van, it’s got to be Matty B.” So the last person I talk to before leaving D.C. is Ian MacKaye. We talked about the state of the scene back then, how it is now, what had changed and where it was headed. I’m totally terrified of leaving the city I’ve lived in for 10 years, and moving to a new city without a job and not having a real plan of where I’m going to live. Ian says to me, “You know Matt, I think this is going to be really good for you. I think you should get out of here.”
It was the perfect closure for a person like me. I was totally beaming the whole ride, and it totally put me at ease. The first day I got here, I told that story to a friend; we met up at a bar that my friend Sean McGuinness (Pissed Jeans, Navies) works at, [he] was in a band that I was in called Like Language back in D.C. That bar was the first place I went to when I got to town, and I said, “Gather round, let me tell you my last story from D.C.”
In case you missed it, here’s the rest of the series.