Bad Brains Sell Jennifer Gilmore’s Book

Dear publicist for Jennifer Gilmore,

I don’t know what the press release you’re sending out to writers looks like (because you’ve failed to send me a copy.  You can fix that by sending one here) for Something Red, but I’d like to suggest you revise it and use her Book Notes from Largehearted Boy.

I have to start with “Banned in DC.” Sadly, I was too young to be around for Bad Brains inception in 1977, and I never saw them live. They had relocated to NYC by the time I was in high school as they’d truly been banned from DC music venues, as the song asserts. But their fingertips left prints everything, from, most obviously, Fishbone, a band that was more my era than my characters’, but also Minor Threat, and Henry Rollins, even Metallica. And while my sixteen-year old Vanessa, who is venturing away from the Elton John and the Rickie Lee Jones of her youth and tiptoeing into the hardcore scene, admires Bad Brains for their political rage, she’s slightly frightened of their insane energy on stage. I chose “Banned in DC” because there was something about Bad Brains, an African American punk rock band from Prince George’s County, that feels even now like it couldn’t have come from “our nation’s capital”. Whatever hardcore was, and I know precious little about that moment from personal experience, it was not black. After seeing them, Vanessa thinks for the first time, “…DC wasn’t simply a generic place for bureaucracy, administrative buildings and schools and stone monuments; it felt for once that this town that had room for more than government. Everything was as it was supposed to be.”