It still doesn't seem that long ago to me, but I suppose it should. Children born during the summer of that year are now freshmen in college. We've had three presidents since then, and two of'em were two-termers. There have been wars, fads, trends, scandals, huge cultural moments, natural disasters and history-altering events all since then, but 1992 still seems strangely contemporary to me. I've grown used to frequently mentioning how I still have t-shirts and mixtapes from that year, but if truth be told, I don't have anything to play the cassettes on anymore and the t-shirts are now all a bit form-fitting, so to speak. That's what eighteen years will do to ya.
18 years ago, I was twenty-five years old. I was working at LIFE Magazine and living in Yorkville on the Upper East Side. By day, I was an editorial assistant to the news editor, assigning stories and chasing down reporting from stringers. On the side, I wrote in a freelance capacity for a freebie newspaper called New York Perspectives (gone), a tiny independent music `zine called The New York Review of Records (long gone) and a short-lived, glossy version of Creem Magazine (gone). I was busy, active and saving money by living at home (an arrangement that would only last so long). While I probably grumbled about it at the time, life did not suck.
While I worked by day, by night the city was my playground. Uptown, I was often found hanging out at either Ryan's Daughter or The Gaf (both on East 85th Street), while my downtown base of operations was a tiny apartment on Irving Place that was being rented out by my friend Rob. The building was purportedly the residence of Washington Irving at one point, and Rob rented the garden-level floor from the brother of Wallace Shawn (as such, we'd routinely answer the phone with an emphatic "Inconthievable!") From this space, we ran roughshod over the lower Manhattan.
That summer was a busy one. Work-wise, I was tapped to orchestrate credential logistics for LIFE correspondents and reporters at the Democratic Convention at Madison Square Garden. As a perk, I got to use them myself and check out some of the proceedings first hand. That was pretty exciting, coupled with the fact that I'd just started dating a girl from the office. Weekend days were spent in the verdant, idyllic sprawl of Central Park. Weekend nights were spent downtown, usually seeing live music.
My favorite bands at the time (Killing Joke, Cop Shoot Cop, the Stranglers, etc.) remain my favorite bands today, but while other folks were paying entirely too much attention to Nirvana and Snoop Doggy Dogg (sure, both had their moments, but I was sick to death of both of them at the time), I was digging a whole bunch of different and -- in some fleeting cases -- dubious stuff. Probably the biggest albums of that summer for me were Check Your Head by the Beastie Boys. How The Gods Kill by Danzig and Psalm 69 by Ministry. I was also grooving to stuff by Spiritualized, Curve, Blur, Kingmaker, Ned's Atomic Dustbin, Shakespeare's Sister and …. er… Arrested Development. I saw Metallica co-headline Giants Stadium with Guns N' Roses (the former rocked, the latter spent too much time changing costumes), U2 at Yankee Stadium a couple of times on their bloated-but-entertaining Zoo TV tour and the second incarnation of Lollapalooza (the one with Lush, Pearl Jam, the Jesus & Mary Chain, Ice Cube and the Red Hot Chili Peppers). Otherwise, I spent way too much time in now-vanished live music clubs like the New Ritz, Wetlands Preserve, The Pyramid, Tramps and The Marquee and too much money in since-shuttered downtown watering holes like Downtown Beirut, Alcatraz and The Cedar Tavern.
It would all change, of course. I broke up messily with that woman from my office (that weepy saga can be read here) and everyone was laid off from LIFE Magazine in relatively short order. All three of the periodicals I was freelancing for folded, forcing me to find other outlets. My personal circumstances would continue to change. Most of those rock clubs and bars mentioned above closed, and the city itself seemed to transform.
So, why am I blathering on about the summer of 1992 when both my current situation and the city I live in are radically different from their incarnations of that time period? Well, I happened upon the video below on YouTube, and it touched it all off. Ignore the cheezy soundtrack and drink in the sights on NYC in the balmy, carefree days of the summer of 1992.