After slavishly pouring through Simon Reynold's "Totally Wired," I've moved onto Nicholas Rombes' "A Cultural Dictionary of Punk: 1974-1982." Sure, it sounds awfully stuffy and textbooky, but it's a pretty interesting read. Instead of solely targeting the by-now well-covered punk luminaries and touchstones, Rombes aims to provide some cultural context to the fabled era, i.e. what factors contributed to, collided with and/or orbited the phenomenon of punk. This involves everything from profiling the major political figures of the day through detailing key authors, critics, films, books, television shows and other cultural ephemera. I'm only about halfway through it, but so far I'm quite intrigued.
One entry that caught my interest in particular was an item about the filmmaker Amos Poe. As much of an alumnus of CBGB as Joey Ramone (although specializing in an entirely different medium of expression), Poe purportedly made stark, experimental films reminiscent of Godard and Truffaut. One such film of Poe's Rombes cites is "The Foreigner," a strange-sounding drama about a secret agent lost and wandering in the seedy streets of New York. As Rombes describes it, "the film glories in the mundane nothingness of everyday life" as the protagonist Max navigates his way around the East Village, even ending up involved in a melee in the notorious bathroom of CBGB -- with the Cramps, of all people. I was immediately curious to see it.
As it turns out, the film is indeed in print and available of DVD, but I couldn't find it in any of the likelier outlets downtown. I did, however, manage to find some clips of it on YouTube. Below is one such scene in which Max encounters a youthful Debbie Harry in an alley (oddly predating her strangely similar cameo in Glen O'Brien's "Downtown `81" by a couple of years). From the looks of it, I'm inclined to suggest that it might be Corlandt Alley between Canal & White Steets, but I might be mistaken. If anyone can accurately name the actual location, speak up. Also, who knew Debbie Harry was so multi-lingual?