Birth of D.C. Punk
Thursday, February 8, 2007; 12:00 PM
Susie J. Horgan, photographer and author of
"I got a job at the Georgetown Haagen-Dazs while in first semester photography class. The manager was a local guy with a square cleft chin by the name of Henry Rollins. I began shooting class assignments at the shop and that started my career as a photographer," said Horgan in an interview with washingtonpost.com. Rollins shares writing credit with Horgan along with Ian MacKaye who co-founded Dischord Records and played in serveral seminal bands of the D.C. punk scene.
A transcript follows.
Susie J. Horgan: hello out there...
i'm delighted to be here taking question about my new book "punk love"...which documents the birth of the dc punk movement. i will try to answer all your question...
although the scene is part of me i am by no means a punk historian and i'll warn you now that i am a pretty bad speller.
Cleveland Park, Washington, D.C.: Very interesting stuff. I'm pretty sure that in the washingtonpost.com presentation of your photos, the guy in picture 9 standing by the window is a high school classmate of mine.
Susie J. Horgan: come on...what's his name...he's in other photos in the book..ian knows his name
Falls Church, Va.: Are you still a photographer, if so what are your current projects?
Susie J. Horgan: oh yes...i seem to have carried the same theme throughout the past 25 years...freedom and justice...a voice...i've been working on a series of authors with my buddy mitchell kaplan
from books& books in miami. i've continued with music and have projects on cuba and haita...and then some
D.C. Native: I'm glad to see that you captured black fans at early punk shows. I read the NYT's "blipster" article (as a person who would fit that corny label if I was 20 years younger, I didn't care for it -- I just thought I was me) and was amazed that anyone is amazed that black people enjoy all kinds of music. Just like everybody else?! Can you comment about diversity of fans of the early scene?
Susie J. Horgan: at a quick glance you see a lot of white males, but if it was quite an inclusive scene. i remember a strong group of women..black ones too..tony the bassist for red cross.
the bad brain a seminal black punk band ruled and still does.
Washingtoon, D.C.: I'll swear I've seen your stuff in some of the books about early punk. Is that so?
Susie J. Horgan: yes...my pictures have been published by dischord records and henry rollins.
20010: Went to the opening, loved the exhibit.
My favorite pictures were from the Wilson Center, a place that means a lot to me and is greatly missed. I loved the crowd photo and the above the steps photo. My favorite might be the one of H.R.'s son on the steps. Is there a story behind that photo? Did H.R. okay you taking that photo?
Susie J. Horgan: i didn't even know it was HR's son...precious boy...i wonder where he is now. one of my favorites.
Rochester, N.Y.: Looking forward to seeing your book. Any photos of Body Count? I went to Parsons with Mark Matcho who was in that band.
Susie J. Horgan: no sorry...thanks...i hope you like it.
Laurel, Md.: What other music-based movements have you observed that have similarities to the punk era? Thanks.
Susie J. Horgan: none...this punk is onto itself
Bethesda, Md.: Did Henry ever talk about his days at the Bullis School in Potomac? I've heard he wasn't too happy there, because at the time it was an all-boys military-type academy, but he did have an English teacher who inspired his creativity.
Susie J. Horgan: no haven't had that conversation with him...but i will now
Arlington, Va.: Hi Susie, although I was not living in the U.S. during those days (I just came from South America 11 years ago), seeing these pictures brought a lot of memories (especially with those kids doing the pogo, pretty much what my buddies and I did as well), how long did the punk movement last in D.C.? No doubt the early and mid '80s were packed with action.
Susie J. Horgan: it is still alive a thriving...check out dischordrecords.com
the movement is still very politically active and nuturing and publishing amazing music.
Cleveland Park, Washington, D.C., again: My classmate's name is Tom Berard.
Susie J. Horgan: thats it...is he still in dc?
Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.: Susie,
What do you think of the D.C. music scene today? Like anything, it seems to come in waves of creative music and then dies down. There are a couple notable bands out there, but I'm thinking it's one of those low points right now. Thanks.
Susie J. Horgan: have you heard the new eveans album or joe lally's new music...it certainly speaks to me.
no thank you.
Fairfax, Va.: Do you know if Rollins ever finished building his estate/punk museum in Manassas and if so -- did he ask you to contribute to his collection of pictures and memorabilia?
Susie J. Horgan: my picture are his pictures...and his generous spirit is a much valued contribution to me...don't know about the museum...will ask him. thanks.
Laurel, Md.: Priceless photos.
What kind of people did punks grow up to be?
Susie J. Horgan: moms, dads, musicians, accountants, voices for justice,artists, writers...
i find punks to be intellegent and kind people...
hence, punk love...
Falls Church, Va.: When taking all of these photographs did you know they would be of such intense interest 25 years later? Also, had you always kept your negatives archived properly or was it like my photojournalism class where everything was stuffed in a box and after a few years you dug them out and realized what great history you had stuffed away?
Susie J. Horgan: they were always precious to me...i kept them close to me...no not properly archived...
no i had know idea the power they would take on...
Washington, D.C.: Can you say a word or two about punk ethic, especially as it plays out in D.C.?
Susie J. Horgan: do gooders in a very pure and productive way...
humanism at its best through artistic expression...
Bethesda, Md.: Were you ever involved in the rootsy "blues punk" movement in Bethesda around 1975-79? Root Boy Slim, the Cramps at the Psychedelly, more obviously the Slickee Boys. I often think that's the missing link between Nils Lofgren and Minor Threat. Think back to the Unicorn Times. Visually, of course, they were very different.
Susie J. Horgan: i saw the slickee once and i have great photos of the cramps...oh yeah the unicorn times...
Alexandria, Va.: Can you tell us HR's name before he changed it?
Susie J. Horgan: no...sorry
Nashville, Tenn.: Hi Susie ...
I'm a Wilson H.S. grad (class of '77) and enjoyed the scene from a slightly older distance ... what was your favorite band to shoot? And to hear? (few of the bands were really good, frankly ... but the ones that were were great)
Susie J. Horgan: minor threat and soa
Washington, D.C.: How would you differentiate your work from someone like Glen E. Friedman?
Susie J. Horgan: glen's work is great...
i remember shooting with him one night at a fugazi show in LA
he took maybe 1 picture to my every 20...
his pictures are more thought out...
i shoot by feel...
a true viseral reaction.
Brooklyn, N.Y.: Hi Susie --
Were you there for Fugazi's infamous show (shows?) on the roof of the now-defunct Food for Thought?
Did you take any photos of that show?
Susie J. Horgan: nope...i had split by then.
Bethesda, Md.: I don't have any questions but I remember the scene well. Brothers of some of my high school classmates used to go the matinees at D.C. Space. One of them was the bassist for SOA (State of Alert). Another is featured in Photo #3.
Thanks for the memories.
Susie J. Horgan: sure...thank you for saying so.
What kind of people did punks grow up to be? : What a ridiculous question.
Landscape Architect, for me.
Duh, regular people covering the full spectrum, just like other kids, other generations, other cultures, other cliques, other groups.
Was there an assumption we were all in jail now? lol
Susie J. Horgan: lol...
washingtonpost.com: Henry Rollins Discussions here at washingtonpost.com: Rollins Live ( Live Online, washingtonpost.com, Jan 11, 2006) and Rollins Live, Againl ( Live Online, washingtonpost.com, March 29, 2006)
Princeton, N.J.: Besides you and Dischord's Cynthia Connolly -- who else has helped document the scene (film/photo)? Look forward to checking out the book.
Susie J. Horgan: look in the book banned in dc...
cynthia edited that and the book's photography is more of an anthology of work...i'm in ther too.
thank you hope you like it.
Chevy Chase, Md.: I like to believe that punk isn't so much a dress code or nightclub scene, but a state of mind, a way of life. Not sure if I can articulate it, but it may be like pornography in that you know it when you see it.
Susie J. Horgan: yes, me too...
Washington, D.C.: What does Rollins think of the book overall? (I know he wrote part of it)
Susie J. Horgan: i think he has quite and affection for it...
Georgetown, Washington, D.C.: Hello Susie, these are the girls at Govinda! What was your favorite location to shoot at?
Susie J. Horgan: hey!!!!!!!
wilson center. taking pictures really clicked in for me that night. that night serves as a barameter for me almost.
i remember they way i connect with the envirorment and i know when i have that feeling my pictures are going to be filled with passion. mind you it happens, but not all the time.
govinda is a wonderful place i'm so fortunate that mt work is hanging there!
It's a matter of public knowledge: I got this from allmusic.com:
"Rollins was born Henry Garfield in Washington, D.C."
Susie J. Horgan: yes, i knew him as such...
Maryland: Hi Sus --
I was just young enough to miss this all in person, though did catch a few early Fugazi shows in Frederick, way back when. Thanks for capturing all of this. I missed you on the 2nd, but would still love to get a copy signed. Can't wait to see the pics in person.
Susie J. Horgan: sure...
go to www.booksandbooks.com and they will send you one!
Rockville, Md.: I'll bet you have a great supportive husband behind you?
Susie J. Horgan: is this stevie mey...
yes i most certainly do...
he not only is my balast, but fills my sails as well!
Washington, D.C.: Are you friendly with Glen Friedman? His books "F&-% You Heroes" and "F$#@ You Too" have a lot of similar photographs. I figured that you may have noticed another person taking photos at these same shows.
Susie J. Horgan: thank you.
yes i know glen and admire his work greatly.
washingtonpost.com: Books and Books
Georgetown, Washington, D.C.: Do you think the straight edge nature of the D.C. Punk scene damaged it in the sense that some of these bands, especially Dischord-related bands, would shy away from D.C. venues that served alcohol (Nation, old and new 930 club, black cat)? What do you think are the most punk friendly palces in D.C. today?
Susie J. Horgan: no...i think they are just true who they are-- wanted to and still want to play to all ages.
River City: Please tell us what type of camera you favor ... medium format?
Also, do you still use film exclusively, or have you started using digital as well?
Susie J. Horgan: i loved my leica--rangefinder 35mm--but it was stolen.
i shoot with a 35mm manual film camera and a fancy digital.
they are 2 different mediums...and there is a place for both...
but film is more my heart.
Kensington, Md.: Have you acted as a mentor to the new generation of photographers involved in youth movements?
Susie J. Horgan: yes, this old lady helps support young photographers...
Arlington, Va.: Was Ian MacKaye intimidating as a kid? How about Garfield? What were they like?
Susie J. Horgan: ian was and still is a funny,deep,intellgent,and highly supportive friend...anything but intimidating.
i was a bit shy with henry at first because his intensity was more apparent...it reverberated...it was such a creative vibe.
Bethesda, Md.: Noticed on Henry Rollins blog he was in town recently and you met up with him. Has he changed from the days of the ice cream shop, other than the graying hair?
Susie J. Horgan: evolved maybe...but the essence of henry is still the same...
Fairfax, Va.: Having been lucky enough to have been a part of the hardcore scene in Stockholm, Sweden when I was living there, my fondest memories of that time were of the youthful energy of the scene, that sense that we were pushing onwards towards something better, a feeling which permeated the music and the people associated with and interested in it.
What are your strongest memories of D.C.'s punk scene in the early 80s? What chords struck then can you still hear quite clearly?
Susie J. Horgan: i'm happ y to have experience the feeling of communit back then and have tried to keep that spirit and energy alive throughout my life...and it has pretty much worked out as such...
hence punk love..
20010: There seems to be many "where are they now" questions, have you ever though of taking follow up pictures of the bands and their fans twenty five years later? (I remember a similar book about teddies in London and Dublin)
Susie J. Horgan: yes...i have many pictures of my friends now...
then and now book...i don't know...
Susie J. Horgan: it time for me to say good bye. i have a presentation i need to finish for my home town miami gig tomorrow night.
thank you so much for you interest in my book and photographs.
you can get the book were all books are sold, but i like to support the indies...www.booksandbooks.com or dischordrecords.com
please go see my exhibit at the govinda gallery www.govindagallery.com
and to reach me www.punklovebook.com
punk love to all. xsusiejx
washingtonpost.com: Govinda Gallery
washingtonpost.com: Dischord Records
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