The Prince George's County liquor board is trying to ban anything it considers "punk rock" from College Park and the University of Maryland campus because it thinks the music attracts undesirables.
The commissioners, rushing in where rock critics fear to tread, have defined punk rock bands as those "acid rock or rock and roll bands that play at a high decibel level; that play in a frenzied hard-rock manner; that use characterizations by painting their bodies."
The commissioners also applied the label to groups that "use offensive names such as 'Sex Change Band,'" and those that "convey into their music and their actions that they approve of the drug culture."
Jordan Fox, student government president at the College Park campus, called the restrictions "obnoxious and unconstitution" and said they unfairly punish the campus community.
When asked about the board's definition, Fox said, "I don't think they took the time to consult Rolling Stone," referring to the weekly rock music magazine.
The restrictions have moved some student organizations and local clubs to avoid certain groups such as "Original Fetish," which the University Commuter Association decided not to book in order to avoid a possible confrontation with the commissioners.
The campaign against punk rock began in May, when the commissioners banned punk or acid rock bands from the Varsity Grill near the campus. The decision came after community complaints about rowdy youths congregating in a parking lot behind the Varsity Grill.
Owner Leon Zeiger closed the back room in which he had been presenting hard rock bands, and appealed the commissioners' restrictions on his liquor license to the Prince George's Circuit Court.
Zeiger agrees that too many rowdy young people loiter around his place at night, but denies that the type of music he presents has anything to do with it. If the troublemakers who provoke the complaints were coming to hear the music, he says, they would not "hang around outside."
The crowds, he adds are still there, months after the last band played at his establishment.
Jerry Kromash, the county's chief liquor inspector, isn't convinced.
"This type of music draws certain undesirables," he said. "The citizens of the area couldn't walk on the streets because of abusive language. People were afriad to cross the street to go to their cars."
Because the commissioners believed punk rock would draw the same patrons elsewhere in the county, Kromash said, they extended the restrictions to the campus and other College Park establishments. restrictions to the campus and other College Park establishments.
Bars and other establishments licensed to serve liquor can lose their licenses if they refuse to observe the restrictions.
University groups normally obtain one-day licenses when they are planning to sponsor on-campus events. Kromash said one-day licenses won't be issued for functions to which groups the liquor board doesn't approve of have been invited.
Robert Miller, head of the liquor board, said: "Our policy for the time being is that College Park doesn't need any punk rock -- anywhere."
The commissioners haven't decided yet how to deal with punk rock problems in other parts of the county, Miller said, insisting the commissioner's aren't "against punk rock per se.
"We're against punk rock that sends people out into the street causing trouble, defecating, urinating, and fornicating."
Zeiger said he hadn't observed such activity in the streets of College Park.
Miller said he would expect the university to monitor the choice of bands by campus organizations and that the commissioners will depend on their judgment. But a university attorney, Terry Roache, said the administration is taking a "no-posture position" on the punk rock dispute.