On Thursday evening, I had a friend in from out of town. We repaired to the East Village for what was supposed to be just one drink before dinner, but turned into simply several drinks. These things happen. And, in this instance, these things happened in one of my very favorite bars still left in the neighborhood, that being The Scratcher on East 5th Street between Cooper Square and Second Avenue.
While ostensibly an Irish pub, the Scratcher comes refreshingly devoid of any of the blustery blarney and "Darby O'Gill & the Little People" bullshit that plagues many of this city's other Irish pubs. It's just an intimate little space tucked into the garden level of a humble brownstone that currently cowers in the shadow of that abomination of a modern hotel just a stone's throw to its west.
In any case, while my friend and I were putting away the pints, I was reminded -- as I often am, when in the Scratcher's comfy confines -- of the fabled Dead Boys incident that happened just outside its front door.
I've spoken about it here a couple of times here before, but as told in Legs McNeil & Gillian McCain's fabled "Please Kill Me," back on April 19 of 1978, Dead Boys drummer Johnny Blitz and Blondie roadie Michael Sticca were out and about on this particular strip (probably on their way home from CBGB), and they were happened upon by a car-load of angry Puerto Rican guys with chains and baseball bats. An altercation ensued and Johnny Blitz ended up getting stabbed and lay bleeding to death in the middle of East 5th (a spooky, dimly street even today). In the wake of this incident, the local punk luminaries of the time organized the Blitz Benefit, a fabled four night event at CB's, featuring a host of notable acts and surprising cameos (guest included Divine, King Crimson's Robert Fripp and John Belushi filling in on drums for the recuperating Johnny Blitz) to help raise money for Blitz's medical care.
I did the math and realized that the Blitz Benefit happened exactly 35 years ago this week.
Johnny Blitz today....