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“Pump Me Up” The new D.C. fêtes the old.

There certainly wasn’t a cooler museum show than “Pump Me Up” to open in D.C. this year, nor a more perplexing party. (Washington City Paper was a co-sponsor of the exhibit.) At the Corcoran in February, Henry Rollins’ iPod played go-go classics and hardcore anthems while attendees ate catered half-smokes and sipped craft beer. If D.C. ever lands its own exhibit in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it’ll look like this: Ian MacKaye’s skateboard, Rare Essence’s flyers, DJ Kool’s turntable, Chuck Brown’s jacket, Little Benny’s trumpet. (Not to mention Cool “Disco” Dan’s famous tags and Cynthia Connolly’s iconic Minor Threat artwork.) If visitors were able to get over seeing all this counterculture get an institutional stamp, they still may have wondered why this assembling of ’80s memorabilia rarely felt like anything deeper—and anyone who saw the exhibit certainly couldn’t have helped comparing its grittiness to the wealthier District of today, which has far more money for the consumption of art and a housing market that makes life more and more difficult for the people who want to make it. And so you had to ask yourself: Thirty years from now, will anyone want to curate a museum exhibit about the D.C. arts scenes of 2013?

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