Spoke: Images and Stories from the 1980s Washington, DC Punk Scene
by Scott Crawford
Scott Crawford’s documentary Salad Days: A Decade of Punk in Washington, DC, 1980-1990 was a love letter to the groundbreaking DC punk scene, and an answer to the mythologizing that has constantly followed DC punk.
While some directors might tuck extra footage and interviews into the special features of the disc, Crawford decided to compile them all into Spoke: Images and Stories from the 1980s Washington, DC Punk Scene, a concise oral history and photo book. Luckily for the book, the DC scene appeared to be one of the most thoroughly documented in the nation, with Cynthia Connolly’s 1988 photo book Banned in DC kickstarting the score of books on American punk.
Many of the photos in Spoke appear to be exclusive, and even if you might have seen a couple of the Minor Threat shots before, the action shots of bands like Faith, Void, or Rites of Spring exude the physicality and emotional release of these pioneering bands.
The book is arranged roughly chronologically by bands, beginning with Bad Brains and ending with Jawbox. The chapters are short and concise, with the major players giving their thoughts about their bands and their place in the overall DC scene with high-contrast shots conveying the energy and excitement of the bands.
A worthy addition to the growing amount of literature on the American hardcore/punk scene, Spoke will look great on any aging punks’ coffee table as a document to a vital, electric time.