The problem with reading a lot of books is that you can never fully remember everything you've ever read. Some books leave small reminders, some others make some impact, and some others stay with you forever. But also a lot of books that are actually pretty good, are getting lost amid the myriad of other letters, syllables and words. So I decided to ocasionally post a little bit on this blog, about something I've been reading lately. As a small momentum for myself, or maybe as an inspiration for someone else?
Dance of Days: Two Decades of Punk in the Nation's Capital - Mark Andersen, Mark Jenkins
In many ways, punk made an impact on my life. And I still consider myself a punk. Not by anyone's definition, but by my own definition. For me, it started with the music, but somewhere along the line, the ideas behind it grew to be more imporant. Whether it's self-empowerment, the meaning of DIY-ethics, the idea that actions speak louder than words, the inspirational power of stepping outside of your own comfort-zone, the moral obligation to not follow the flock, taking your beliefs from thought to action - all that is something that came from a punk-influence. And I think that these concepts made a lasting impact on me. And even though my punk-affluence started with music, it's definitely more than just "loud and abrasive" for me.
That being said, it's exactly the idea behind this book. On the surface, it's a step-by-step description of the history of the Washington D.C. punk-scene. It's about the bands that spawned it, the people that inspired it and all that. It's nice to give some perspective on bands, but if that would've been it, the book would've been a bit limited. More inspiring, it shows how a small group of kids, starting with energy and an idea, creates something special out of nothing.
Sure, "Dance of Days" isn't complete. Surely, the book has a particular focus on a certain part of the Washington scene. And surely, you see the scene through the eyes of the author. But that's always the case with histories as such: it's always a story from someone. So yeah, I was missing some bands that I really love (like Moss Icon, to name one) and others were omnipresent (there's only so much one can tell about Fugazi-songs, for example).
But what I enjoyed about the book is that it shows that music and ethics can go hand in hand. That there's another option than stupid macho rockstar bullshit, and that there's more to life than music: That music can actually help to spread ideas and meaning among a crowd. That punk is not just "rock hard" and "look the look", but that it can inspire initiatives as the "punk percussion protests", tons of benefit shows for charitable causes, songs that have an actual message. And that there's nothing different between audience and public, and that if you have an idea or want to do something, you should just go for it!
But all these ideologies aside: I wouldn't have read the book if it wouldn't have been about bands that I feel deeply about. It's great to read about bands that you've never been able to witness first-hand, but have still lit a spark somewhere inside you. So for me, I'd enjoyed reading about the crazyness of HR of the Bad Brains. I enjoyed reading about the passion of Rites of Spring (who are the band in the picture above, by the way). I also enjoyed reading about the little high-school kid Dave Grohl dropping school to play with Scream.
So to me, the book was a nice amalgamation of who's who in punkrock-gossip and an empowering message. And while we're at it, why not listen to some Rites of Spring? Or Minor Threat? Or Bad Brains?