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Jawbox guitarist speaks on ex classmate Brett Kavanaugh & frat culture

Jawbox (Bill Bardot, right) | photo: Katherine Davis
Jawbox (Bill Barbot, right) | photo: Katherine Davis

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has been dominating news headlines, and even moreso since being accused of sexual assault by Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford and others. There are countless stories to keep you occupied on what has become just the latest drama related to the problematic Trump administration, but we couldn’t help but take note (thanks Jess) of one particular detail that relates this story to the 80s DC punk and hardcore scene….

You may have seen that popular tweet by Pissed Jeans frontman Matt Korvette, referencing DC bands Government Issue and Minor Threat. If you were wondering just how directly the frat boy culture Kavanaugh was part of influenced those bands (and other Ian Mackaye bands like Teen Idles and Fugazi) — and the straight edge movement in general — it looks like it was indeed very directly.

Bill Barbot, guitarist of J Robbins’ post-Government Issue band Jawbox, was interviewed by The New York Times and The Washington Post about Brett Kavanaugh, because it ends up they were classmates. Barbot attended Washington, DC’s Georgetown Prep (whose yearbooks have become part of the story) in the early ’80s, around the same time as Kavanaugh. (Barbot was a Freshman when Kavanaugh was a Senior.)

One example from the NY Times:

Judge Kavanaugh’s implication is that students at Holton-Arms, an all-girls school, didn’t mingle much those who attended Georgetown Prep. Two of Judge Kavanaugh’s former schoolmates said on Friday that this was not true and that Holton-Arms students were routinely present at parties with Georgetown Prep boys.

“Holton-Arms was definitely part of our social scene,” Mr. Barbot said.

The Washingtonian‘s Andrew Beaujon, who used to front TeenBeat-signed DC band Eggs, also talked to Barbot about attending there and its prep school culture at the time. “Consent as a concept did not even exist,” he said. “It was not in our lexicon.” More from the article:

“I was in a cover band, and I hung out with my nerds, I hung out with my people and ended up partying quite a bit, and that’s something I have a lot of regrets about,” Barbot says. “When you’re 16 or 17 you think you’re the king of the world.” The drinking age in DC at the time was 18, and fake IDs were fairly easy to obtain. “We thought we were capable of handling this like grownups and we totally weren’t,” Barbot says.

Barbot nonetheless feels like a lot of the portrayals of Prep that have emerged since Christine Blasey Ford accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault in the early ’80s reduce life during that time to a cartoon. It wasn’t exactly like Revenge of the Nerds, where the lines between jocks and dorks were impermeable. His graduating class had just over 100 people, he notes, and he says he enjoyed good relationships with a lot of people on the football team: “They weren’t all these horrible lunkheads. There was definitely lunkheaded behavior, but there were good guys who were football players.”

He was a freshman during Kavanaugh’s senior year. “Brett was a big man on campus. He was a football player, he was captain of the basketball team. I knew who Mark Judge was by reputation and Brett by reputation. You couldn’t not know who they were.” They were, in other words, among the stars of the senior class. The school was big enough to accommodate subcultures but small enough to foster a feeling that everyone was on the same team.

You can read the whole article here.

But there’s more. In the replies to Matt Korvette’s tweet, Mike Lastort, who currently plays saxophone in The Delarcos with original Teen Idles vocalist Nathan Strejcek, also says Korvette is onto something. “I’m currently in a band with one of the members of Teen Idles and Youth Brigade. Confirmed,” he says. (He also adds that his band’s drummer was in a more recent iteration of Government Issue.)

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Meanwhile, UB40 is also now a part of this story.

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