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05 December, 2012

The Punk-Funk Dream

In my eyes, by the '80s we'd done gone beyond fear and loathing to specific dreads: corporate control of government, the finger on the war-button belonging to the puppet shill of corpirates and mean fixers like Cheney and Rumsfeld. Dark times indeed.

But not without bright spots. One light was very dark, and that was hardcore punk, which lashed out at tyrants, amped up the rebels, and screamed revolutionary words across this nation. Even in Richmond, VA, a disillusioned generation beyond the boom spoke up, as a few Richmonders are wont to do thus always to tyrants. Up north in the bigger capital city was a scene blessed not only with the sendipitous harDCore logo triumph, but a critical mass to have more bands, more thrill from rebelling in the heart of the beast.

Also, DC was the home of "Straight Edge," the monkish no sex or intoxicants or tobacco movement that proved to be a gateway drug for some kids entering the scene, a good long-term adaptation for many, and then again sometimes just a preachy irritant. Minor Threat wrote the songs, other bands picked up the theme. Some kids eventually got too militant about it, but on the whole less alcohol equals less violence, so Straight Edge was not such a bad thing for a crowd of angry youth in a squalid bar, experiencing dreads specific and loathings general. Plus, DC got more t-shirt sales (most Richmonders made their own, or kept wearing the old harDCore shirt).

Another thing Minor Threat did was try to reach out to the city's other homegrown music, go-go. Punk shows were pretty damn vanilla, and go-go shows similarly chocolate. But both styles blurred audience-performer distinctions, both were local flavors, and both figured it might help race relations in a city traditionally divided. 

In my eyes, the punk-funk shows happened repeatedly, even though I only went once. Threatbase, a website database of all the band's shows, only lists a single appearance with Trouble Funk, the last before the list ends in 1983, a few months before Minor Threat broke up. Maybe someday I'll find that this is just a data gap, and not history's cold book snapping shut on a dream. Then again, maybe one day I'll be wasting more time on the internet, and I'll find the t-shirt. Thus always to freedom dreams live on.

[NOTE: The logo fixation in this post partly stems from the wikipedia legend that the 45 jacket on the right was ripped off by Nike, which replaced the combat boots with their shoes. They changed "Minor Threat" to something similar. Yes, a giant corporation selling sweatshop-made conspicuousness used the essence of DIY ani-corporate rebellion to sell its products. Minor Threat made them stop and issue an apology.]

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