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.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

People Who Died...Snappy little end of your life song

I was recently speaking with an old friend about the passing of Jim Carroll. He was the person who actually introduced me to Jim Carroll's writing. I remember many instances of being read passages from "The Basketball Diaries" while I showered. I am forever grateful to Robert Sullivan. When he read those passages to me it was as though the world had crack opened like an egg. I realized you could write how you talked. It didn't have to be all high-brow, just honest - your voice, your viewpoint. You can look at the bottom, study the under-belly and still see the beauty in humanity. Jim Carroll became a hero to me because of his innate ability to tell the truth, as he saw it. He was the original punk in my estimation. He understood early on that you could take everything that on the surface seemed ugly, desperate, challenged, destitute, worn out and torn and celebrate it. The tattered prom dress in all its glory and proud memories that was New York. So thank you to Jim Carroll, and thank you to Robert Sullivan for sharing the following Jim Carroll story. I salute you brother!

From Robert Sullivan (formerly of The Stellas and The Bastard Heirs) - I saw him in 1980-81 at a concert somewhere in Brooklyn (I think it was Brooklyn) everyone kept yelling Jim…E… Jim...E...and I was thinking I'm going to see Jim Caroll, it'll be this bastion of bleeding edge NYC hipster/punk types, but I was a little taken aback at how many in the audience just seemed like obnoxious Yankees fans or something...but they knew who Jim Carroll was, he was their boy, or though it seemed.

One guy threw a syringe on stage, about par for that crowd, you know tacky as hell, Jim Carroll stopped the band, squatted down, picked up the syringe and said rather quietly but emphatically into the mic, "this is really fucked up..." then a sinister grin started to come over his face and he said, "now if it was full, that would’ve been class..." then he threw it back into the crowd, and went on with the show...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Those Are People Who Died...R.I.P. Jim Carroll, September 11, 2009

I was 21 years old when I first read Jim Carroll's "The Basketball Diaries" in 1987. Not long after, I purchased The Catholic Boy record and played "Those Are People Who Died" ad infinitum et nauseaum. A month after I moved to NYC I saw him read at The Bottom Line, and subsequently saw him read and perform several times thereafter. Jim Carroll taught me that you could write how you talked and that there was beauty, poetry and great things to be observed and put on paper that didn't represent the fresh and clean NYC that TV shows like "Sex and The City" have celebrated. Life is messy. Life is hard, and sometimes it kicks you in the ass but you can still write great things that celebrate mean streets, borrowed clothes and no money fun. No one did that better than Jim Carroll. Not everything has a purpose or a happy ending, but pay attention to the little things, the small signs that every day life has to offer - Learn, observe, fall down, get up, live and fucking write about it if that's what blows your hair back.

Mind the grit and find the beauty, lesson and sweetness in the sometimes shitty things life serves up.

I am saddened beyond words that he has departed us too early and on a day that can easily eclipse his greatness but seems oddly fitting to the City that he was born and raised in. He was, to my mind, the best that NYC has to offer; a writer. A writer about a City and a time that kicked his ass, offered him life lessons - perhaps a bit too early, and gave us all some of the best writing and music I've ever had the pleasure to read, hear and live by.

This post is for you my brother...

Saturday, September 05, 2009

We're here. We're queer. We're not going shopping!

One of the first I'm here, I'm queer bands and very few people have heard of them. Before bands started dressing like they'd raided their mummy's closet, the Tom Robinson Band had thrown it on, worn it out and sung about it. So enjoy one of my all time faves and get ready for new posts about things you've only dreamt about...

Monday, August 24, 2009

Gone Fishin'...

Dying On Bar Time is on vacation and will return shortly with new images, posts and videos. Keep the faith!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A slight departure for the dearly departed...

We were all saddened by the untimely passing of Willy Deville. Sadder still is the fact that his death went largely unnoticed by the press. I received no New York Times News Alert as I had done when Ron Asheton exited stage left several beats too early. Bill Dickson, front man for The Rousers and 70s NYC music scenester and I were chatting about a week after Willy's passing and Bill had heard nothing about it. A shame, he thought, since by his estimation Willy Deville was one of the coolest fuckers to grace the NYC punk scene. With his New Romantic look and pencil mustache, he cutting quite a dashing figure in 70s and 80s NYC. No one looked like him, dressed like him and no one sure as hell sounded like him.

Perhaps best known as the fella who found Johnny Thunders' lifeless body at the St. Peter House in New Orleans in 1991, it's a wicked rippin' shame that Willy's death came and went with a whisper.

R.I.P. Bless Willy Deville's pointy lil' head...Sha babby.

This is The Bottom Line

In 1993 I had the great pleasure of seeing Allen Ginsberg and Jim Carroll at The Bottom Line. Mr. Ginsberg performed Don't Smoke amongst other poems/songs and Mr. Carroll read a lesser-known story featuring a snake and a deli. Not only were the stories great but the whole evening cost me $15 bucks. I was a waitress and bartender at the time so seeing two of my heroes for a price that wouldn't even buy me a t-shirt these days made me feel like I was getting over. It was the cultural equivalent of dine and dash!

The Bottom Line closed on January 22, 2004. Today it's a lecture hall for NYU law students but for whatever reason always looks empty...

Allan Ginsberg performs Don't Smoke

Jim Carroll Band People Who Died

The Bottom Line then...

The Bottom Line today (August 2009)

Saturday, August 08, 2009

And now for your listening pleasure...

Great bands, singers and performers EVERYONE should know about!

The Senders

The Rousers

Vivien Goldman

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Die Young, Stay Pretty

They say the light that burns twice as bright burns half as long. Perhaps this explains the brief period that was punk music in New York City and its London counterpart. Sure there are bands that survived; Blondie, The Clash, The Ramones, The Talking Heads, etc. But even these bands have either altered their line-up, have unfortunately passed or no longer play together. Equally the venues in which these bands played; CBGBs, Max's Kansas City, the Pepermint Lounge, the 82 Club, Mudd Club, etc. burned bright but burned out. The venues have given way to delis, dorms, chain restaurants and lecture halls.

This is a visual and oral tour through that time. Enjoy...

Saturday, August 01, 2009

The Night They Brought the House Down: The Rise and Fall of the Mercer Arts Center

Before CBGBs played home to The Ramones, the Mercer Arts Center was THE slummy locale to play and who better to headline there but the Lipstick Killers themselves; The New York Dolls. Located at the back of the Broadway Central Hotel near the corner of Mercer and 3rd St, the Arts Center was run by Sy and Cynthia Kaback. The front entrance was on Broadway and was a crummy SRO/residents' hotel. But the Arts Center housed performance spaces and was the perfect backdrop for a band who got its name from an uptown Doll Hospital. The New York Dolls played in the Oscar Wilde Room (among other similarly named performances spaces in the Center) until the hotel's collapse on August 3, 1973. In fact the Dolls played there every week from the middle of June 1972 until the beginning of October that same year. Seems oddly fitting that Personality Crisis would bellow out of a room named after another irreverent dandy with a penchant for feminine attire. My cousin Bill Dickson of The Rousers used to see the Dolls at the Mercer Arts Center. He and his band mates would get gussied up in their SVA art student finest and go shake a tail feather and then some to David Jo, Johnny Thunders, Jerry Nolan, Syl Sylvain and Arthur "Killer" Kane. Good times...

The building collapsed just hours before hundreds of patrons were scheduled to file in. While sadly the collapse did kill 4 hotel residents, the subsequent remains of the hotel were demolished and a 22-story dormitory for law students (they still live in dorms?) was erected in its place, built by, you guessed it, NYU. Have a look...

And before its reconstruction...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

What used to be and what is now...

For years now I've watched as the City has been systematically denuded of its coolness. The characters have been driven out with the homeless and the squeegee guys. You never see Gene Pool peddling around on his unicycle in his suit made of tin cans or astro-turf. The guy who used to sell stained glass jewelry in his daisy dukes and red cowboy boots (I called him the Wild Man from Borneo) on Broadway between Bleecker and Houston, gone. The Duck Man, once featured in the opening credits of Saturday Night Live, also, gone. And finally, the one I probably miss the most, the Bubble Man, who would walk down West 4th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues with an enormous pickle bucket filled with suds and a multi-holed bubble wand, waving the wand and leaving a tremendous cloud of bubbles in his wake, GONE. In a city as transient and mutable as New York, one has to get used to the fact that some things go the way of the dinosaurs. But I miss the grit. I miss the sense that you had to have balls, bravery or a bit of insanity to live in this City. So as my love note to the City I love and love to hate, I will be posting images and anecdotes about what places and people are gone (CBGBs, the Mudd Club, Mercer Arts Center, Homeless Man, etc.) and what chain, franchise, soulless conglomerate has moved in in their place.

As Lou Reed once said: I'll take Manhattan in a garbage bag with Latin written on the side of it that says "it's hard to give a shit these days..."