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A documentary exploring how Punk took hold in Washington D.C., from 1976 through the harDCore explosion of the early 1980s. Read more

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This project was successfully funded on June 14, 2014.

A documentary exploring how Punk took hold in Washington D.C., from 1976 through the harDCore explosion of the early 1980s.

About this project

PUNK THE CAPITAL, STRAIGHT FROM WASHINGTON D.C.

When punk swept into Washington D.C. in the late 1970s, an explosive scene emerged with uncompromising attitudes and powerful new sounds. The ideas and music which grew out of that time continue to have a profound impact, resonating around the world. Filmmakers Paul Bishow and James Schneider are now pulling together their long-awaited documentary about that seminal moment: Punk the Capital, Straight from Washington D.C.

Punk the Capital takes us to the heart of why D.C. Punk has such staying power. For those who are already aware of this inspiring and influential story, Punk the Capital provides a fresh perspective and in-depth portrait of how D.C. Punk began, full of newly discovered footage and personal accounts, directed by two of D.C.'s veteran filmmakers. For those who do not know much about Washington D.C. culture or why D.C. Punk matters, this film will be a must-see.

Focusing on the period between 1976 and 1985, this documentary explores how D.C. Punk gained momentum and an affirmative, creative and constructive community emerged. At the core of the film is an artist's co-op called Madams Organ. It was a space of possibility, like punk itself, where the foundations of a remarkable scene took form. The Organ was a place where generations and musical genres mixed. It became the launching pad for the D.C. harDCore movement.

The project is born out of our love of this music, D.C. history, and our camaraderie with those who are in our film. It also is a product of the our friendship and collaborative work that began in D.C.'s Adams Morgan neighborhood over 20 years ago. It is fulfilling for us to bring our decades of experience to this hometown project, and to make a film about a subject that echoes our belief in filmmaking as a transformational art.

To explore the complexity of the period, we have conducted over 100 interviews with the key figures, collected more than 200 hours of rare archival footage, hundreds of photographs, flyers and zines. The film also features unseen Super-8 footage shot by a dozen different filmmakers. We envision this film to be a dynamic collage, drawing on a multitude of archives, past & present radio shows, concert audio and video recordings, interviews, and more.

Having collected nearly all the necessary pieces, we now need your help to put them all together and complete this film. Your contribution will help us cover the many expenses along the way, including: film lab transfers and preservation, editing, equipment rental and purchase, the final out of town interviews, sound mixing, and DVD production. Our goal amount has been calculated to cover these and other basic costs only. Reaching that goal amount will also make our work with D.C.-based charities become a reality (see "Beyond the Film" section below).

Your support to complete this vital documentary will also help to preserve and share these archives. For example, much of the collected Super-8 film is deteriorating and requires transfer to an archival format (see "Beyond the Film"). This is part of our larger effort to see this history preserved and in this regard, we have been working closely with the D.C. Public Library for the past year in establishing a D.C. Punk Archive. So your participation in this project is also about keeping this vital piece of history alive and accessable.

You can help us cross the finish line through your contribution and through your promotion of this campaign. Thank you for your support.

See below for additional info about the film and the filmmakers:

THE FILMMAKERS

Filmmakers James Schneider and Paul Bishow in 2003 beginning the project (photo Jeff Nelson)
Filmmakers James Schneider and Paul Bishow in 2003 beginning the project (photo Jeff Nelson)

James Schneider, a D.C. native who grew up in the skate and punk scenes of the mid 1980s, has spent the last 20 years directing and producing films and music videos. His filmography includes; “Blue is Beautiful” (1997) featuring Dischord recording artists The Make-Up, “The Band that Met the Sound Beneath” (2012) featuring the Chilean punk band Panico, and “Young Oceans of Cinema” (2011) about the French avant-garde filmmaker Jean Epstein. Schneider’s award-winning work has been screened at film festivals and museums around the world. For more info: www.jamesjune.info

Paul Bishow moved to D.C. in the late 1970s and was immediately drawn to the intimacy of the punk scene, with his Super-8 camera in hand. He has since made 8 feature length movies and dozens of short films, many with D.C. Punk bands. He was a founding member of the I am Eye Film Forum and managed the legendary art-house cinema, the Biograph Theater in Georgetown. His footage has appeared in many documentaries including Don Lett’s “Punk Attitude” (2005). Paul's brother Pat Bishow is also a film director, known for the El Frenetico series and Soultangler. For more info: www.paulbishow.com

MORE ABOUT THE FILM

The eyewitness account is the guiding perspective of this story. Just as Punk the Capital co-creator Paul Bishow was there in 1979 filming the punk explosion, the key figures who witnessed and participated in the rise of D.C. Punk/harDCore are all part of our film: Alec and Ian MacKaye, Henry Rollins, Jeff Nelson, Jello Biafra, Tesco Vee, Cynthia Connolly, Joe Keithley, Tim Kerr, Sharon Cheslow, and many more. Among other important aspects discussed by these figures are the beginnings of the Straight Edge movement, Dischord Records, and the evolution of a D.C. sound that would later carry on into bands like Fugazi. We also cover the interactions between D.C. Punk and another D.C. underground genre of the time, Go-Go. Aside from the music, many other aspects of the D.C. punk community are part of our film: for example photographers and 'zine publishers from the time such as Barbara Anne Rice and her 'zine Truly Needy.

D.C. Punk did not start in 1979 with harDCore. This documentary takes us back to the earlier generation who fought to open doors in a hesitant, if not resistant, government town. It is impossible to grasp what happened in D.C. circa 1980 without fully exploring what preceded that time. These pioneers created new sounds and a Do-It-Yourself approach by starting their own labels like Dacoit, Limp, and Doodley Squat. Punk the Capital includes bands such as the Slickee Boys, White Boy, Razz, and The Urban Verbs; figures like Skip Groff, Kim Kane, Martha Hull, Don Zientara and Howard Wuelfing; DJs like Xyra Harper and Steve Lorber from the rebellious local radio station WGTB; and early DC fanzine publishers such as Mary Leary (Infiltrator).

A behind-the-scenes discussion with Ian and Alec MacKaye about Paul Bishow's apartment, and his footage from 1979.

BEYOND THE FILM

D.C. Punk Activism

In the tradition of D.C. Punk non-profit work and benefit events dating back to 1980, arrangements are being made for 3 Washington D.C. non-profits to benefit from our film.  Details will be available in the next few months. These are the three non-profits:

Hungry For Music (D.C. Branch) is a charity organization that supports music education and cultural enrichment by acquiring and distributing quality musical instruments to underserved children.

Positive Force D.C. is an activist collective seeking radical social change, personal growth, and youth empowerment. They organize benefit and free concerts, art shows, film screenings, protests, and educational events while also doing direct work with people in need in Washington D.C..

Washington Peace Center is an anti-racist, grassroots, multi-issue organization working for peace, justice, and non-violent social change in the metropolitan Washington D.C. area since 1963.

Please go to the "Beyond the Film" section of our website for more information.

Preservation

Your contribution will help us to preserve and share a wide range of archives. These include film, video, audio, flyers, zines, photos and other ephemera.

Of particular interest is the recently unearthed Super-8 and 16mm footage collected from various sources. Some of this footage is rapidly degrading and needs immediate attention. Among the bands appearing in the footage are : Bad Brains, Untouchables, Faith, Teen Idles, Enzymes, Slickee Boys, Government Issue, Da Chumps, Half Japanese, Razz, Holy Rollers, Kingface, Trenchmouth and more. The footage also includes scenes of daily life, such as sequences fillmed in the Madams Organ Co-op and street life in D.C. circa 1979. 

D.C. Punk Archive

We  have been working closely with the D.C. Public Library's Washingtoniana Division on founding a D.C. Punk Archive. We will be transferring a large amount of the material from our documentary to this new collection. This archive is part of Washingtoniana's effort to preserve and celebrate D.C.'s rich music culture (Go-Go, Jazz, Folk, Garage...). It promises to be an accessible and instructive tool for the Nation's Capital and beyond.

THANK YOU 

Thank you for taking a moment to learn about our project. We appreciate your interest in our efforts to create a lasting and in-depth document of this transformative period in music history. Your enthusiasm and willingness to spread the word will help build the momentum needed to move this project forward. THANK YOU for your support. 

D.C. PUNK FILM COMMUNITY

Since we began this project circa 2000, other films on D.C. Punk have begun and we look forward to all of them. These documentaries are all quite different and we believe they will complement each other. The history of D.C. Punk is too big for one film. The unique focus of our project is on the transition from punk to harDCore in Washington, D.C., 1976 to 1985. The vast archives we have collected will contribute to the distinct perspective of this documentary, as it encapsulates the radical shift from 1970's culture into that of the 1980's.

Amongst the other films in the works are: a documentary about Positive Force D.C.; an HR (Bad Brains) documentary; an episode in a series for HBO featuring D.C.’s legendary Inner Ear Studio, directed by Dave Grohl; and Salad Days, which began in 2011, focusing on D.C. Punk of the mid-1980s.

Follow us on Facebook & Twitter for updates:

www.facebook.com/punkthecapitaldocumentary

www.twitter.com/PUNKTHECAPITAL

Check out our website for exclusive content from the film: 

www.dcpunkrockdoc.info

VERSION FRANCAISE DU CLIP (FRENCH VERSION)

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SINOPSIS, VERSIÓN EN ESPAÑOL (SPANISH VERSION)

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IMAGES

The Slickee Boys at WRIR with Dir. James Schneider, on one of many radio shows featured in film, 2011
The Slickee Boys at WRIR with Dir. James Schneider, on one of many radio shows featured in film, 2011
Ian MacKaye and early harDCore flyer, 2005
Ian MacKaye and early harDCore flyer, 2005
Half Japanese, early 1980s Halloween bash, Super-8 freeze frame
Half Japanese, early 1980s Halloween bash, Super-8 freeze frame
Michael Hampton, Alec MacKaye & Chris Bald of Faith, Super-8 freeze frame, 1982
Michael Hampton, Alec MacKaye & Chris Bald of Faith, Super-8 freeze frame, 1982
Skip Groff, of Yesterday and Today Records (store), Limp Records, 2011
Skip Groff, of Yesterday and Today Records (store), Limp Records, 2011
Hanging in Henry Rollins' car, Super-8 freeze frame, circa 1980
Hanging in Henry Rollins' car, Super-8 freeze frame, circa 1980
Bad Brains at Madams Organ, Super-8 freeze frame, 1979
Bad Brains at Madams Organ, Super-8 freeze frame, 1979
John Weiffenbach of Void and his canoe, 2012
John Weiffenbach of Void and his canoe, 2012
Going through tons of Super-8 shot from the late 1970s to the mid 1980s in D.C.
Going through tons of Super-8 shot from the late 1970s to the mid 1980s in D.C.


REWARD IMAGES

"Are you ready? We are!" Fresh from the hallway of the legendary Inner Ear Studios: Poster/flyer for the 2nd Bad Brains show at Madams Organ, August 25th, 1979. Original 8.5" x 14" flyer comes framed from the collection of Don Zientara.
"Are you ready? We are!" Fresh from the hallway of the legendary Inner Ear Studios: Poster/flyer for the 2nd Bad Brains show at Madams Organ, August 25th, 1979. Original 8.5" x 14" flyer comes framed from the collection of Don Zientara.
"Three Red X's, Two Red Lines" by DC area native, and 2004 Whitney Biennial participant Santiago Cucullu (limited ed. of 3). 16 x 22 unframed screen print signed by artist. Inspired by and made especially for Punk the Capital.
"Three Red X's, Two Red Lines" by DC area native, and 2004 Whitney Biennial participant Santiago Cucullu (limited ed. of 3). 16 x 22 unframed screen print signed by artist. Inspired by and made especially for Punk the Capital.
"Real Rock & Roll" Slickee Boys / White Boy two night show flyer (11 1/4" X 10 1/2") from the personal collection of Marshall Keith. Below is a video which talks more about that legendary show.
"Real Rock & Roll" Slickee Boys / White Boy two night show flyer (11 1/4" X 10 1/2") from the personal collection of Marshall Keith. Below is a video which talks more about that legendary show.
For the first time ever, Shepard Fairey / Obey's PUNK ICONS series is presented on ONE print, assembled especially for Punk the Capital. 18 x 24 inch Giclée Print individually signed by the artist, and part of an exclusive first run of only 10 copies.
For the first time ever, Shepard Fairey / Obey's PUNK ICONS series is presented on ONE print, assembled especially for Punk the Capital. 18 x 24 inch Giclée Print individually signed by the artist, and part of an exclusive first run of only 10 copies.
Fugazi/Jem Cohen "Instrument" poster from NYU screening in 1999. Original 2-color Tribune ShowPrint 17"x27" on cardboard (from the personal collection of Brendan Canty)
Fugazi/Jem Cohen "Instrument" poster from NYU screening in 1999. Original 2-color Tribune ShowPrint 17"x27" on cardboard (from the personal collection of Brendan Canty)

Washington, D.C. Punk Tour with author and activist Mark Andersen. (See reward options #13 and #15)

Well loved 5 X 7 print of the front steps of Madams Organ artists co-op, 1980, by and from the collection of Paul Bishow.
Well loved 5 X 7 print of the front steps of Madams Organ artists co-op, 1980, by and from the collection of Paul Bishow.
Painting of the Madams Organ artists collective, 1979, by John Hagerhorst and Doug Goodhill (24"X32").
Painting of the Madams Organ artists collective, 1979, by John Hagerhorst and Doug Goodhill (24"X32").
One of a kind 8 X 10 print of the Bad Brains, 1979. It was taken during the same photo shoot which produced the pic on their first 7 inch, "Pay to Cum". Pic was taken/made by Charley Davis and Paul Bishow.
One of a kind 8 X 10 print of the Bad Brains, 1979. It was taken during the same photo shoot which produced the pic on their first 7 inch, "Pay to Cum". Pic was taken/made by Charley Davis and Paul Bishow.

Risks and challenges

This project is on solid footing to be completed as planned. It is always difficult to gauge how long the editing will last, so this is our main challenge. Even with the planned next 6 months of full time editing, such a large amount of footage presents a steep mountain to climb. The success of this campaign will ensure that the film is completed in a swift time frame and will be well circulated. In terms of content, the film itself has advanced to the point where we can assure that it will reflect how it is presented above.

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    A Punk the Capital thank you postcard.

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    A 4X6 print of a Super-8 freeze frame from Paul Bishow's punk films.

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    108 backers

    Digital download of the completed film.
    A 4X6 print of a Super-8 freeze frame from Paul Bishow's punk films. A Punk the Capital thank you postcard.

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    Double disk DVD (film and lots of bonus material, NTSC or PAL format, NO REGION, Subtitles in French, Spanish and more).
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    31 backers Limited (59 left of 90)

    Ticket to a sneak peek screening at D.C.'s Black Cat night club. Projections will include of a section from the film and early rare D.C. punk films made by Punk the Capital co-creators Paul Bishow and James Schneider (both in person). A 5X7 print of a Super-8 freeze frame from Paul Bishow's punk films (delivery at the Black Cat event). June 10, 2014, 8pm,. Travel not included.

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    44 backers

    Double-disk DVD (film and lots of bonus material, NTSC or PAL format, NO REGION, Subtitles in French, Spanish and more).
    A 8X10 print of a freeze frame from Paul's Super-8 films. A thank you postcard.

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    2 backers Limited (3 left of 5)

    "Real Rock & Roll" Slickee Boys / White Boy two night show flyer (11 1/4" X 10 1/2") from personal collection of Marshall Keith. A copy of the double-disc DVD of Punk the Capital (film and lots of bonus material, NTSC or PAL format, NO REGION, Subtitles in French, Spanish and more). A thank you postcard.

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    15 backers

    Punk the Capital poster (18X24 in.). A copy of the double-disc DVD of Punk the Capital (film and lots of bonus material, NTSC or PAL format, NO REGION, Subtitles in French, Spanish and more). A thank you postcard.

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    30 backers

    A 8X10 print of a Super-8 freeze frame from Paul Bishow's punk films. A copy of the double-disc DVD of Punk the Capital with "thank you" signatures from the directors. Digital download of the film. Punk the Capital poster and postcard.

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    11 backers Limited (39 left of 50)

    Original limited edition silk screened Punk the Capital print made by Paul Bishow (poster size, different from the regular poster). Double-disk DVD with "thank you" signature.

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    12 backers Limited (3 left of 15)

    Double-disc DVD of Punk the Capital with "thank you" signatures from Paul and James. A DVD of James Schneider's film made with Dischord recording artists The Make-Up, entitled: Blue is Beautiful http://bit.ly/PXL4RL (NTSC, NO REGION). These are likely the last of these DVDs in print. An 8X10 print of a Super-8 freeze frame from Paul Bishow's punk films and a Punk the Capital poster.

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    5 backers All gone!

    Punk the Capital poster. Double-disc DVD of Punk the Capital with "thank you" signatures. A Double disk DVD of James Schneider's film made with renowned Chilean band Panico, entitled "The Band That Met The Sound Beneath" see: http://on.fb.me/1fAZFz3 (NTSC, NO REGION, English & French Subtitles). Punk the Capital poster and an 8X10 print of a Super-8 freeze frame from Paul Bishow's punk films.

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    1 backer Limited (2 left of 3)

    A Washington D.C. Punk tour provided by D.C. Punk historian and author of Dance of Days, Mark Andersen. Gift includes tour for rewardee plus 5 to 10 of his/her guests. The walking tour will include an exceptional stop at the original legendary Madams Organ location and a signed copy of Andersen's Dance of Days. Date to be established minimum 1 month ahead of time. A signed copy of the double-disc DVD of Punk the Capital (delivery December 2015) and a Punk the Capital poster.

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    1 backer Limited (1 left of 2)

    Bricks from D.C.'s legendary Ontario Theater, now demolished. The Ontario was where bands like The Clash, PIL, Damned, Blondie, Gang of Four found themselves upstaged by locals such as Minor Threat. Double disk DVD (delivery December 2015). Original limited edition silk screened Punk the Capital print (poster size) made by Paul Bishow.

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    0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)

    Original 5 X 7 photo print of the front of the legendary film co-op Madams Organ, with the graffiti "PUNK ROCK KILLED ME" and "DIE HIPPIES", shot and printed by Paul Bishow. Feel free to contact for details. Double disc DVD of Punk the Capital (film plus lots of bonus material, NTSC or PAL format, NO REGION, Subtitles in French, Spanish and more, est. Delivery December, 2015). Punk the Capital poster.

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    0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)

    Extremely rare Fugazi/Jem Cohen "Instrument" poster from NYU screening in 1999. Original 2-color Tribune ShowPrint 17"x27" on cardboard (from the personal collection of Brendan Canty - see "Reward Images") Double disc DVD of Punk the Capital (film plus lots of bonus material, NTSC or PAL format, NO REGION, Subtitles in French, Spanish and more, est. Delivery December, 2015).

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    2 backers All gone!

    Same Washington D.C. Punk tour detailed above + more DVDs - A signed copy of the double-disc DVD of Punk the Capital (delivery December 2015). A Double disk DVD of James Schneider's film made with renowned Chilean band Panico, entitled "The Band That Met The Sound Beneath" see: http://on.fb.me/1fAZFz3 (NTSC, NO REGION, English & French Subtitles) + A DVD of James Schneider's film made with Dischord recording artists The Make-Up, entitled: Blue is Beautiful http://bit.ly/PXL4RL (NTSC, NO REGION) and a Punk the Capital poster.

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    1 backer Limited (2 left of 3)

    "Three Red X's, Two Red Lines" by DC area native, and 2004 Whitney Biennial participant Santiago Cucullu (limited ed. of 3). 16 x 22 unframed screen print signed by artist. Inspired by and made especially for Punk the Capital.

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    10 backers All gone!

    For the first time, Shepard Fairey / Obey's PUNK ICONS series is presented on ONE print, assembled especially for Punk the Capital. Each print is a 18 x 24 inch Giclée Print individually signed by the artist, and part of an exclusive first run of only 10 copies. Previously, this series has previously appeared as a mural, and as individual prints of each artist. Double disc DVD of Punk the Capital (film plus lots of bonus material, NTSC or PAL format, NO REGION, Subtitles in French, Spanish and more, est. Delivery December, 2015).

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    1 backer All gone!

    ONE BRICK from the original 9:30 Club (it is a half brick but solid). Double-disk DVD (delivery December 2015). Original limited edition silk screened Punk the Capital print (poster size) made by Paul Bishow.

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    1 backer All gone!

    Original 8 X 10 black and white print of the Bad Brains, shot in 1979. This image is a one of a kind, the negatives are lost. It was taken during the same photo shoot which produced the pic on their first 7 inch, "Pay to Cum". (see the REWARDS IMAGES at the bottom of our project description). Picture were taken/made by Charley Davis and Paul Bishow. Also receive a Double disc DVD of Punk the Capital (film plus lots of bonus material, NTSC or PAL format, NO REGION, Subtitles in French, Spanish and more, est. Delivery December, 2015). Punk the Capital poster.

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    "Are you ready? We are!" Fresh from the legendary Inner Ear Studios: Poster/flyer for the 2nd Bad Brains show at Madams Organ, August 25th, 1979. Original 8.5" x 14" flyer comes framed from the collection of Don Zientara, more specifically, from the hallway of Inner Ear Studios. See "Reward Images" for pictures. A copy of the double-disc DVD of Punk the Capital (film and lots of bonus material, NTSC or PAL format, NO REGION, Subtitles in French, Spanish and more).

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    7 backers

    "With the Generous Support from" credit in the film. Double-disk DVD with "Thank you" signatures. Digital download of the film. Original limited edition silk screened Punk the Capital print (poster size) made by Paul Bishow.

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    Associate-producer credit in the film.
    One rough cut screening (transportation not included) in Paul Bishow's apartment in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington D.C.. A landmark in its own right, the apartment is largely preserved since its punk-hangout beginnings in 1979 and also featured in the Tony Scott film "Enemy of the State". One or more participants from the film will be at these screenings. Double-disk DVD. Original limited edition silk screened Punk the Capital print (poster size) made by Paul Bishow.

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    Oil painting of the Madams Organ artist's co-op, made in 1979, by John Hagerhorst and Doug Goodhill (24"X 32"). This unique work of art is the only known painting of the legendary artist's collective, where DC Punk was born. While there have always been rowhouses to the right and to the left of this structure at 2318 18th street, here we see it as many did at the time, apart from the crowd. (see the REWARDS IMAGES at the bottom of our project description to see a picture of the painting). More info upon request.

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    0 backers

    "Major Donor" credit in the film, 2 rough cut screenings (transportation not included) in Paul Bishow's apartment. One or more participants from the film will be at these screenings. D.C. Punk tour for two, driving with Paul and James. Double-disk DVD (see above for description, delivery December 2015). Original limited edition silk screened Punk the Capital print (poster size) made by Paul Bishow.

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Funding period

- (40 days)