Arts Desk

One For The Suggestion Box

A few weeks ago I visited the Smithsonian's Anacostia Community Museum. It had a few things going for it: a pretty good amount of archival news clippings mounted on walls, the clippings were presented in a fashion that could be described as "museum quality" or "well lit," the place was not crowded, the staff was friendly, the bathrooms were super clean (best bathrooms east-of-the-river!), and there was air conditioning.

Oh, and the place is free.

The one problem: the museum's paltry go-go exhibit. It's not listed in the current exhibit list online so maybe it's gone. I doubt it. It's such an afterthought that the curators might have thought it did not merit attention on its website. The curators would have done well to first consult with and reprint this little piece of journalistic excellence. The current exhibit amounts to a hallway, a few glass-enclosed t-shirts, a few sentences on go-go history in Anacostia, and two videos. That's it.

I wished that there was more. One of the videos–Junkyard in the mid '80s downtown–hints at what needs to be rediscovered: it's early violence-free-and-controversy-free roots. The music holds up as well as early hip-hop if not better. The Junkyard clip–I wish I could find it on YouTube–gave me goosebumps. I wanted more of that!

What we need is an actual museum devoted to go-go.

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  • Mike Licht

    Since Mr. Coates filed that article, this book has been published:

    The Beat: Go Go's Fusion of Funk and Hip Hop
    by Kip Lornell, Charles C. Stephenson

    Trade Paperback Publisher: Watson-Guptill Publications Date Published: 05/2001 ISBN-13: 9780823077274 ISBN: 0823077276

    Sad for Kip and Charles, but good for you, it has been remaindered and sells for just a few bucks.

    The book's best line: "Mike Licht; what ever happened to him?" (or words to that effect).