Friday, July 08, 2011

CBGBs "brand" sold to Streambank LLC

This doesn't really fall under what I normally write about but I thought it was timely and I'm left wondering what it will mean. Streambank LLC, the same folks who bought up real estate and inventory from Tower Records when it went belly up in 2006, have just purchased the CBGB brand. This includes trademarks, domain names, recordings and artifacts from the club.

What this will mean, I have no clue, but watch this space...

Thursday, July 07, 2011

The Gas Station

When I moved to the East Village the adage that applied to the lettered avenues still meant something; "A is awful. B is bad. C is crazy and D you're dead". I lived right around the corner from a place called the Gas Station, because, well, it had been an old gas station. Surrounded by a chain link fence that was stuffed with all manner of found objects, including an old corner/3-legged sofa riddled with cockroaches I had dumped from my 3rd St apartment, the Gas Station had become a hard-core punk bar that played host to a raft of notorious punk bands.

I had some difficulty digging up old images of the Gas Station. I don't own a scanner and am maybe too lazy to go to the trouble of scanning the old photos I have (I'll get around to it), but the Gas Station and its final days are intrinsically linked to the last day and night of GG Allin. The self-proclaimed Anti-Christ and front man of the Murder Junkies played his final show at the Gas Station. What happened next was evidence of a man in decline. He publicly snapped like a cheap lawn chair - running and rolling around the streets of the EV buck naked and covered in shit and blood. I dug up some video footage of GG frolicking in his altogether. It's tough to watch, for a number of reasons, but perhaps mostly so because it's common knowledge that just hours later he OD'ed in his brother's apartment on 9th St.

The Gas Station was razed and a doorman building with a Duane Reade erected in its place. Proving that old punks can never go home again but they can certainly shop there.

The Former Gas Station

Thursday, June 16, 2011

City least our graffiti is clever...sometimes.

A collection of photos from around the City and mostly the East Village for your viewing pleasure...

A Message of Nope

Punk is Dead...or at least its watering hole is.

It's been a while since I've posted anything. It's not for lack of fodder - plenty of good spots closing, a raft of young'uns infiltrating the neighborhood and bringing with them the convenience of super stores and doorman high-rises. It's sheer laziness or depression over the continued systematic denudification of any kind of character or cool this City once possessed. It seems like uniqueness is frowned upon these days or it's at least not financed. Or maybe I'm just a grumpy old fucker.

The Mars Bar in NYC is the latest casualty in the City's personality crisis. The building is being razed, and while an offer was made to them for a larger space in a different building, Mars Bar declined. Part of Mars Bar's "charm" was its cramped-ness. A narrow opening between the front door and the bar. A sparse number of seats and an old jukebox that took up more than its fair share of room. The last time I went there, and trust me, this was never a place I went alone, no matter how much of a bad ass I think I am, Mars Bar was the only bar I actively feared entering by myself - The Stooges' "I Wanna Be Your Dog" was blaring, a set of twenty-somethings drunk and banging their fists on the bar, the scattered patrons covered in tats and cigarette stains and for a moment I felt happy. Happy that this was a place where time had stopped and maybe the City, if just for a few more days, still had some guts. Despite my lack of skin ink and piercings, I felt at home.

Vive le Mars Bar!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Dying On Bar Time (formerly Grace City Limits): End of the Century

Dying On Bar Time (formerly Grace City Limits): End of the Century

End of the Century

On November 30, 2003 after 2 years and a 16-year old kid from Staten Island spearheading the effort, the dedication ceremony for Joey Ramone Place was held. My friend Artie and I decided to check it out. So we wandered over to CBGBs around 11am. We were thinking we'd beat the crowd. So we walk straight in to CBGBs, said hi to the door guy and made our way closer to the bar. We looked around and saw that the place was mostly empty. We were pretty chuffed with ourselves and our fantastic timing and decided to celebrate with a beer for breakfast. As we ordered our Ying Lings we noticed Little Steven, Jim Jarmusch, Mickey Leigh, Legs McNeill, Arturo Vega, Charlotte Lesher (Joey's mother), Snookie and Tish from Manic Panic, Alberto Camarasa (proprietor of Wows!ville Records) and Handsome Dick Manitoba of The Dictators filing in. Artie and I slowly realized, the sharpness of our normally keen senses dulled by the effects of our breakfast beers, that we had pulled a Harold and Maude. We had in our innocence and enthusiasm and perhaps a small amount of cool, crashed this memorial. Who knew??

Well, they'd let us in so...we listened enraptured by the speeches and little anecdotes each speaker offered. The highlight being Jarmusch playing an answering machine message that he'd saved from Joey. Apparently Joey made a habit of leaving these sorts of messages, sometimes short and sweet, sometimes rambling and all focused on something uniquely New York or random that he'd witnessed or experienced on that particular day.

Once the speeches were over, everyone filed out of CBs and were greeted by a crowd that stretched across Bowery down to Houston St and as far up as Cooper Union. All there to watch the Joey Ramone Place street sign unveiling.

Artie and I looked at each other and thought well, we've just taken a page out of Steal This Book. And wouldn't Joey be proud.

Monday, December 07, 2009's been 29 years. How far have we come? I salute you John Lennon...

I remember...and a story to follow.

The best bands you've never heard of but should there!

The Rousers
The Rousers began in New York City in 1977. Originally formed with the stated purpose of playing at an SVA beach party that never happened, The Rousers at first consisted of three friends from Weston, CT. who had played together in high school bands under such names as "Billy Universe and the Satellites" and "Stepn'fetchit".

The Senders
Headlined by fabulous front man Philippe Marcade, The Senders were one of Johnny Thunders' favorite bands.

The Nails
88 Lines About 44 Women. Need I say more?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Birthday, Clem Burke!

A shout out to a former Ramone (for about 3 minutes, or as long as a single Ramones song lasts) and the class-act drummer for Blondie. Happy Birthday, Mr. Burke!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Max's Kansas City

Jayne County wrote a song about it. Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers released an album called Live at Max's Kansas City and so did the Velvet Underground.

Max's Kansas City was a nightclub (upstairs) and restaurant (downstairs) at 213 Park Avenue South, between 17th and 18th and was a gathering spot for musicians, poets, artists and politicians in the 1960s and 1970s.

Opened by Mickey Ruskin (1933-1983) in December 1965, it was a hangout for artists and sculptors like John Chamberlain, Robert Rauschenberg and Larry Rivers, whose presence attracted hip celebrities and the jet set, and was also a favorite hot spot of Andy Warhol and his Factory devotees. The Velvet Underground played their last shows with Lou Reed at Max's in the summer of 1970. It was home for a short time to the Glitter rock scene that included David Bowie, Iggy Pop and, of course, Lou Reed. Bob Marley & The Wailers opened for Springsteen at Max's in 1973 at the beginning of Marley's career on the international circuit.

Max's Kansas City's popularity declined and the legendary establishment closed in December, 1974. Mayor Ed Koch later had a campaign office in the building.

The club reopened in 1975 under new ownership of Tommy Dean Mills who started with a formula of serving up disco. Peter Crowley, who had been booking bands at Mothers was hired to start booking bands there in a venue that was an alternative to CBGBs.

Max's Kansas City became one of the birthplaces of punk, featuring bands like Cherry Vanilla, The New York Dolls, Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers, Blondie, The Ramones, The Cramps, Mink DeVille, Steel Tips, The Misfits, The Dictators (who were rumored to have been banned from playing there, which turned out to be total bullshit), Wayne County, The Senders, The Rousers, The Fleshtones, Klaus Nomi and Patti Smith. After the breakup of the Sex Pistols, Sid Vicious played many of his solo gigs there. Also Devo played several shows at Max's in 1977, including a show where they were introduced by David Bowie as "the band of the future."

Max's closed its doors in November 1981. The building survives and now houses a deli (see pictures below). The best part is the old chandelier. Like a tattered prom dress that you wish could tell its story, it remains hanging from the ceiling, a constant reminder of days gone by...

What do drag shows, the New York Dolls and Errol Flynn have in common?

Two words, Club 82. This completely unmarked club - no sign, no street number even, is one of the last venerable mainstays of NYC gay and club culture. The New York Dolls began playing shows there on April 17, 1974, long after Errol Flynn was a famous regular who regularly whipped out his now infamous cock and played the piano with it. I went to the club once in the mid-90s. It was a bit of a tattered prom dress of a club, but not in a good way. Gone was the glam and in its place a series of glory holes. I had to convince the bouncer I was a lesbian before he'd let me in the door. I was a suspicious "breeder" in his estimation. Or maybe he thought I was some tranny cruiser. I've no idea.

Steve Shevlin, formerly of The Senders has promised a story about Club 82 and its heyday. So more updates to come. In the meantime check out these photos of the club.