I am fully aware that I just spent the last month driving myself (and maybe a couple of others) to distraction with my search to pinpoint the location of Joe Dilworth’s 1990 shot of the Lunachicks, and that I should probably relax my sleuth capacities for a while, but y’know what? Fuck that. Life is short, and when something catches your eye, you should jump on it. So that’s what I’m doin’. Hop on board, or get outta the way, `cos this is happening.
Okay, so a little backtracking…
I finally got to swing back out to the Queens Museum, last weekend, to check out that celebrated Ramones exhibit. Incidentally, if you haven’t yet, you have until the end of July to get on it. And while, yes, the idea of anything to do with punk rock literally being in a museum is slightly off-putting (see this atrocity as a prime example), I have to say that the Queens Museum did a pretty great job.
The collection of Ramones artifacts -– from Johnny’s first Mosrite through to the “Gabba Gabba Hey” sign to the pinhead mask and all points in between -– is pretty unimpeachable. If you’re a fan of this stuff (and, if you’re not, why are you reading my blog?), you do owe it to yourself to check it all out, if you can.
In perusing through the three big rooms of stuff, however, I was immediately drawn to a foursome of photographic prints by the great Bob Gruen. Two of them were entirely familiar, but the other two… not so much.
You might remember a recent post wherein I speculated about Gruen’s 1975 photo of the band ascending from an unnamed subway station, and I determined that it was the F stop where Second Avenue t-bones East Houston. This particular photo was taken during the same session that resulted in iconic shots of the band posing in front of CBGB (just a block away from that station) and another famous image of the band on a subway with their guitars in shopping bags. Those two photos were presented in this section of the exhibit, appended by a shot of the band I’d never seen before, evidently taken in the band’s home `hood of Forrest Hills before boarding that Manhattan bound train, and the last one featured up top, showing da brudders posing like a gang of leather-clad thugs on some downtrodden East Village backwater. Here’s that photo again…
One of the more striking things about this photo is just the sheer condition of depicted scene. I have a friend who’s always remarking when he sees footage of the East Village of the 1980’s, how “not-so-bad” it looks compared to legend and lore. Granted, the `80s were five years on from this shot, but the patch of NYC captured in this photograph truly looks like a city in steep decline. Here’s my attempt at a sharper image of it. Click to enlarge.
Anyway, I’m sure you know here this is going…
In noticing how distressed the surrounding cityscape looks, I started trying to picture what that same spot might look like today, and it occurred to me that I couldn’t immediately place it. Now, given that it was presumably snapped during the same session that resulted in those afore-cited subway shots (i.e. between CB’s and Second Avenue….i.e. pretty much the exact same area as the Lunachicks photo), it makes sense that it was taken in that same vicinity. But I can’t picture it’s current incarnation….
Get to work!