Burning Flags Press The website of Glen E. Friedman. Renowned for both his work with musicians like Fugazi, Minor Threat, Public Enemy, the Beastie Boys, Slayer (and many, many more) as well as his groundbreaking documentation of the burgeoning skateboard phenomenon in the late `70's, Glen has been privvy to (and has summarily captured on film) some of the coolest stuff ever. He's also an incredibly insightful and nice guy to boot.
SoHo Blues - Photography by Allan Tannenbaum Allan Tannenbaum is a local photographer who has been everywhere and shot everything, from members of Blondie hanging out at the Mudd Club through the collapsing towers of the World Trade Center on September 11th. You could spend hours on this site, and I have.
Robert Otter Photographs Amazing vintage photographs of New York City, specifically my own neighborhood, Greenwich Village.
oboylephoto Just some intensely cool photographs of abandoned places.
The Weblog of Spumco's John K. The weblog of cartoonist John Kricfalusi, crazed mind and frantic pencil behind the original "Ren & Stimpy," as well as "The Goddamn George Liquor Show." Surreal, unapologetic, uncompromising genius.
I was sad to learn about the passing of Tuxedomoon bassist Peter Principle, who evidently died this morning of natural causes. I was very late to the table with Tuxedomoon, only really first hearing them circa 2001 via a viewing of "Downtown 81." Oddly, I just picked up the band's 1981 album, Desire, literally last week during a random visit to Downtown Music Gallery in Chinatown.
This is normally the part wherein I wax rhapsodic about trivia and personal association, but beyond what I learned in "Downtown 81," I don't have much to tell. A San Fransisco band heavily influenced by the Residents, Tuxedomoon spent a great amount of time here in NYC in the early 80's. I was immediately intrigued by the song, "Desire," which was featured in the "Downtown 81" soundtrack, but also knew them fleetingly from the song, "In a Manner of Speaking," because of cover versions by Martin Gore of Depeche Mode and Nouvelle Vague. When I spotted that first album at DMG (featuring both "Desire" and the other single below), I figured I should snap it up.
This suitably nightmarish video below for "No Tears" was shot in NYC, although the NYC of 1981, which might explain its apocalyptic sheen. ADDENDUM: It's actually not a proper Tuxedomoon video, it's footage repurposed from the 1981 horror film, "Wolfen." My mistake.
Ever have one of those days when virtually everything that could possibly go wrong does? Yeah, I had a couple of those this week. Nothing serious, but just not what I’d had in mind. As such, plans to put up more cool stuff –- or stuff that I would consider “cool,” at least -– here had to be put on ice for a little bit. The cool stuff in question is still in the works, but it might take slightly longer than initially conceived to bring it to fruition.
Regardless, being that today is Friday, July 14, that means that tomorrow is the 12-year anniversary of this silly blog, and since I probably won’t be near a computer tomorrow, I figured I’d prematurely post about it now.
By this point, I think I’ve long established how continually gobsmacked I am that people read and follow this blog. Thanks for sticking with it, for forgiving me my less thoughtfully considered rants, for overlooking my hastily-concluded assumptions, for turning a blind eye to my frequent lapses in editorial judgment and for being patient with my catastrophic penchant for typos. I don’t know what I’ve done to earn your interest, but I’ll continue to do my best to sustain it, if at all possible.
For any Francophiles out there, today is also Bastille Day. Instead of ruminating on what inevitably promises to be another cripplingly embarrassing chapter in the Trump Administration as our Fake President befouls the City of Light in La Belle France with his oafish idiocy (and that’s as polite as I can be about it), I thought I’d devote to rest of this post to the only relatively contemporary song I’m aware of that addresses the holiday in question, that being “Bastille Day” by ye olde Rush.
My gateway drug into all things Rush in high school was Moving Pictures, their landmark 1981 album that spawned such burly, hook-laden singles as “Tom Sawyer” and “Limelight.” This was followed swiftly by their sprawling live album, Exit … Stage Left, which, for the transition from “Broon’s Bane” into “The Trees” and finally into “Xanadu” alone makes it essential, or to my ears, anyway.
Inspired by same, when I happened upon a copy of Caress of Steel, their “difficult” 1975 album in the cut-out bin at the old “five and dime” Woolworth’s on East 86th (long, long gone … captured above by one Dave Sanders), I figured, “how bad could it be?” Suffice to say, the album wasn’t totally what I’d been expecting, finding Geddy Lee’s voice a bit shriller than it would later become. While far from their finest hour, the album does open with “Bastille Day,” a rollicking shot across the bow that rendered the album a keeper. Alex Lifeson’s opening riff (especially at 00:18) almost reminds me of a few of my favorite hardcore albums (let that sink in, I realize that it’s a stretch).
Anyway, happy Bastille Day. Cut each other some slack. Enjoy your summer. Thanks for reading.
Curiously, the video is labeled as being shot on December 27th, 1986 (see flyer above left). That's nice, but if you watch the clip, you can clearly hear hirsute Rock Hotel impresario Chris Williamson say the word "Flipper" (as in "let's hear it for..."), which leads me to believe it was actually shot about a month later (see flyer above right) on January 17, 1987, when the iconoclastic San Francisco noise-rock band opened for the Bad Brains. In that instance, it's a shame the Flipper footage wasn't also captured, as it would have been one of the last performances of Flipper bassist/vocalist Will Shatter, who would overdose and expire the following December.
Either way, it's a rollicking, splenetic set that is well worth your goddamn time. Enjoy it while it's up.
By this point, I’ve logged entirely too many entries about the old Ritz on 11th Street on this blog. Suffice to say, it was a pivotal place for me, as a nascent music fan, in the 80’s. Since morphing into Webster Hall (its original name) in the 90’s, I still went a few times, but not with the loyal regularity with which I darkened its doors as the Ritz, although that had more to do with Webster Hall's booking policy than anything else. But as recently as this past May, I was still posting ruminations on the glory of the old ballroom.
It was recently brought to my attention, however, that Webster Hall is about to close for renovations. I realize the building is landmarked, but the last time I heard something was temporarily shuttering for the purposes of renovation, it never re-opened. I call it the Cedar Tavern syndrome.
In watching that trailer, however, I bristle at the fact that the very word “Ritz” is only mentioned fleetingly. I realize the Ritz closed almost thirty years ago (jeezus), and only operated for about a decade, while it’s been Webster Hall since 1992, but I can’t help feeling that its tenure as the Ritz is way more significant. But, hey, that’s me … I’m old. Bite me.
In any case, just to balance out all the tear-stained reminiscence about its days as Webster Hall, I thought I’d share my favorite moments from my visits to it as The Ritz.
I think my first show there may have been the Circle Jerks with D.O.A., Redd Kross and Toxic Reasons opening in December of 1985. It seemed like a ludicrously grand venue to be hosting such a ragtag mob of ill-behaved, leather-clad nogoodnicks, but I was entirely amazed to be in that grand ballroom, surrounded by my like-minded brethren. As a geeky high-school misfit besotted with punk, hardcore and metal and routinely lambasted, by my pop-loving classmates, for my predilections, it felt like such a vindication to see Keith Morris of the Circle Jerks assume the stage (flanked by towering Earl Liberty on bass and Handsome Greg Hetson on guitar) sporting a Motorhead shirt and lording over a roiling mass of rambunctious mohicans. These were my people. I was finally home.
Further shows like a couple of Dead Boys reunion gigs, and a barnstorming homecoming by the Ramones (on the Halfway to Sanity tour, with Dee Dee still in the ranks) are equally seared into my memory. The shot below is that Ramones gig. I’m in that throng somewhere.
My favorite anecdote about The Ritz, however, involves one of a pair of shows in December of 1987, which featured Fishbone, The Toasters and Murphy’s Law. My friend Rob D. and I attended both of these Christmas gigs (hot on the release of Fishbone’s holiday EP, It’s a Wonderful Life), and the room was jam-packed with an army of punks, skinheads, rudeboys, rockers, hardcore kids, college types and all points in between. It was, as they say, the event of the season.
On both nights, each band whipped the capacity crowd up into a complete frenzy, but on the first of the two evenings, I remember being amidst the pit during Murphy’s Law’s frenetic set. The heat coming off the crowd was intense and the action was nonstop. I managed to weave my pipe-cleaner-like physique through the merry melee to the western side of the room, clinging to the bar as if it was the side of a deep pool. Sweaty and exhausted, I petitioned the bartender -- via a variety of complex hand-signals, given the stentorian din of Murphy’s Law at full throttle -– for a COKE! As if on cue, right as the barkeep was completing my order, lead singer Jimmy Gestapo (a moniker he has since tastefully renounced, truncating to simply “Jimmy G.”) heroically vaulted from the Ritz stage and onto the very bar to which I was leaning. Just as my cup of ice-laden Coca-Cola was put down in front of me, Jimmy started enthusiastically skanking down the bar, with limbs akimbo, flailing in time with the music. Just as I was reaching for my beverage, Jimmy brought his battle-weathered Doc Marten down on my cup with a splattering-STOMP. Fittingly or unwittingly, no soft-drinks were going to be consumed on his watch.
In the almost thirty years since that evening, countless people have invariably enjoyed countless evenings of similar experience within the hallowed halls of that building, regardless of its moniker. Who really knows what’s going to happen to the place when its new, corporate overloads take control, but one can’t help fear the worst. There’s a lot of soul, character and history in that space -– it’s one of the last few places of its kind in this city.
Because I’m a complete geek, I follow FansRamones on Instagram, who today posted this photograph of da brudders waffling about in front of a gazebo-styled bandstand that instantly struck a chord with me.
FansRamones didn’t post any credit or background, but I’m going to suggest that this is the same London bandstand that appears in both the video for “Typical Girls” by the Slits and, later, the one that appeared on the sleeve of the ominous industrial opus that is Horse Rotorvator by COIL. Here are both now.
Fact Magazine (and they should know, one assumes) describes the location, in relation to the sleeve of Horse Rotorvator, thusly...
The cover features a seemingly innocent photo of the Regent’s Park bandstand,which had a few years earlier been the scene of an IRA bomb that killed three soldiers and their horses. A very dark joke from a very bleak and dark time and a portent of the music contained within.
Here's a taste of that album...
Finally, and slightly incongruously, here's the Ramones in London.