When I was sixteen years old, I moved from Los Angeles to DC in 1981. After hanging out in the LA punk music scene for years, it was natural for me to be part of the DC punk music scene. During that time the DC scene consisted mainly of participants: everyone took part by making music, creating and printing flyers, recording albums, singles, and tapes, supporting our favorite bands, selling their records, taking photographs and making it all happen. In DC, the voice was strong—we lived it by being it. We were seeking something to call our own and we did. The energy was palpable, swelling like a huge wave that we rode.
I studied at the Corcoran School of Art from 1981 through 1985. After graduating from art school in 1986, I was deciding what to do with my life so naturally I moved to San Francisco and worked at Maximum Rock ‘n’ Roll. After creating the layout for Murray Bowles’ photozine, “Life is a Bowl Full of Cherries,” I was compelled to return to DC and publish a photo book about the DC punk scene. My goal was to collect stories and photos before they all disappeared. By late 1986, when back in Washington, DC, Leslie Clague and I started working on the Banned in DC. Many did not believe we were actually making a book. Since there were only two other books documenting any American punk scene they asked, “Why would you make a book about the DC Punk scene?”
Banned in DC took just over two years to create but if not for the generosity of the photographers, musicians, and friends who helped, it would never have happened. The photographers donated their images and others donated time to help with selection, editing, and layout. Leslie Clague, Sharon Cheslow, and Lydia Ely cannot be thanked enough for their ideas, inspiration, energy, and collaborative expertise. Banned in DC began as a desire to document the DC punk scene with images and stories. What began as a limited publication expanded over the years because of my “caretaking” when I financed, printed, and distributed until now the tenth edition.
No one—including me—would have guessed that Banned in DC would enjoy such long-term success, relevance, and appreciation.
All of us in the DC punk scene worked hard to create the music and the culture that is documented in Banned in DC. We proved without a doubt that we can create our own destiny and document our own history. The book represents the collaboration, passion, empowerment, fearlessness, ability to change, and trust that represents my community, both then and today. The book is really a metaphor that represents the capacity and intensity of what life can offer and what we all can embrace. Banned in DC mirrors a creative and open-minded subculture in DC that continues to evolve and have a positive influence on musicians and people throughout the world.