Wishing for the days
When I first wore this suit
Baby has grown older
It’s no longer cute
Too many voices
They’ve made me mute
Baby has grown ugly
It’s no longer cute

But I stay on, I stay on
Where do I get off?
On to greener pastures
The core has gotten soft

— Minor Threat, Salad Days (1985)

Reflecting on these lyrics thirty years later, the documentary Salad Days: A Decade Of Punk In Washington DC serves as a backstage pass to one of the most explosive and important hardcore punk scenes in this country. 

One could argue that Ian MacKaye’s bands and Dischord Records label defined the look, attitude and stage behavior of East Coast hardcore and straight edge kids from up in Boston down to Gainesville for years to come. 

This documentary puts the spotlight on McKaye and Jeff Nelson (Minor Threat, Dischord Records), Henry Rollins (Black Flag), Dave Grohl as well as horror comic writer Steve Niles (Gray Matter) among many others to patch together a decent image of D.C. punk in the 80s.

I was pretty stupid back then.

Well, let’s say uncultured. Let me go back. I was a teenager once.

Like many teenagers, I needed to rely on older siblings to clue me into my next move. It wasn’t my sister (Guns-N-Roses fan) that got me into punk rock. Rather, it was a complex web of a social circle and older siblings that circulated mix tapes of everything cool from Violent Femmes (who’s ‘Add it Up’ connected with me the way it could only connect with a virgin’s sex drive) to Minor Threat, we had it figured out. 

And then we started our bands. The rest as they say is a rather boring personal history that means nothing besides that it was real. Real to us. Music, expression, Minor Threat and the Dead Kennedys and the through line to McKaye’s later band Fugazi and $5 shows was very real. 

Hot summertime basements were filled with our bands. We scrawled giant X’s on our hands one week and then asked the same older brothers to buy us beer the next. We played next to washing machines and bicycles in the cellar and waited for the cops to come.

We bought army jackets, paint, sewed patches and made our own version of ‘The Sound of Punk to Come’. We weren’t very cool, but that’s what we were.

90% of what we were TRYING to do every day was to be like Minor Threat.




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