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Documenting D.C.’s punk past — with your help


In 1984, Scott Crawford was a 12-year-old kid living in Silver Spring and soaking up punk rock — soaking it up and squeezing it out.

He edited a music fanzine called MetroZine, Xeroxing it at his mother’s office on weekends. In 1985, he put out a compilation album of local bands, including one called Mission Impossible that just happened to feature a drummer named Dave Grohl, who would go on to be in Nirvana and found the Foo Fighters. Scott played in a band, too.

John Kelly writes "John Kelly's Washington," a daily look at Washington's less-famous side. Born in Washington, John started at The Post in 1989 as deputy editor in the Weekend section. View Archive

Now Scott is directing a documentary on the D.C. punk scene from 1980 to 1990 — and he needs your help. I’ll let his director of photography, Jim Saah, explain:

“D.C. just looked so much different then,” he said. “And you’ve gotta show what it looked like.”

Jim said he and Scott have found a fair amount of performance footage — from inside clubs such as d.c. space and the (old) 9:30 Club — but what they need are moving images of the city as it was then, before the revitalization and gentrification that transformed so much of Washington.

“Slamdancers" Shove, slug, jump and slam into each other at the 9:30 club, July 16, 1981 in Washington, DC. (Lucian Perkins/WASHINGTON POST)

“Stock companies kind of want an arm and leg for that stuff,” Jim said.

So they’re hoping you might have some old videotape or movie film in your basement that shows the streetscapes of the city: the boarded-up Woolworth’s at Ninth and F, the flashing lights of Doc Johnson’s Love Products on 14th Street, sweaty music fans milling around outside of clubs.

“Even if it’s just some people goofing off in front of buildings, you can see what the buildings look like behind them,” Jim said.

Jim is a photographer who with his camera chronicled many of the bands of those days. (Full disclosure: Jim photographed the very first Weekend section cover story I wrote as a freelancer, 25 years ago. It was on piano bars, which must have seemed very tame compared with the mosh pits of Black Market Baby and Minor Threat.) He still does freelance documentary work, but the 47-year-old pays the bills by doing photography for a trade union. Scott, 40, later founded the now-defunct alternative music magazine Harp and today is an art director for a D.C.-based trade magazine.

“We’re middle-aged,” Jim said, “and you go through different trials and tribulations, but you always look back on this time that really informed your life. It was important to you. And the whole punk rock thing gave us permission to do things: to make records ourselves, to make a magazine.”

To make a documentary. They hope to finish theirs in 2013. The working title is “Salad Days.”

Jim admits they struggled with the title. “We don’t want it to be like glory days or about nostalgia,” he said. “We don’t want it to be like that’s a time we mourn for. It’s a time that set us on the right path.”

If you can set them on the path to footage of D.C. back then— what’s called B-roll — send an e-mail to or check out their Facebook page: .

It’s only rock-and-roll

Music of a different sort will be on the agenda April 13 in College Park. That’s when Mark Opsasnick and Jeff Krulik are presenting “The History of Rock and Roll in Prince George’s County.”

No one is better suited to delve into places such as the Crossroads in Bladensburg and the Varsity Grille in College Park, or into such bands Lawrence and the Arabians and Jerry Dallman and the Knightcaps. Jeff grew up in Bowie and is best-known for co-directing the cult fave “Heavy Metal Parking Lot.” Mark is from Greenbelt and is author of “Capitol Rock,” among other encyclopedic titles.

They’re both obsessed with gathering the oral histories of people who were there then, wherever there — and whenever then — was. They expect the evening to be a free-for-all of reminiscences, with attendees sharing scrapbooks, posters and memories.

“It’s always fun to do show-and-tell at these things,” Jeff said.

The free event is at 7:30 p.m., April 13 at the College Park Arts Exchange Old Parish House, 4711 Knox Rd. For information, visit or call 301-927-3013.

To read previous columns by John Kelly, go to

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