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 just walked over there again today. It’s a surreal scene to be sure. St. Mark’s Place and East 7th both remain closed to traffic (though you can go down St. Mark’s by foot). At the mouth of Third Avenue, you can only stand around the corner by Gem Spa, but that’s about it. Those looking to get their fill of disaster porn might be disappointed.
I suppose you cannot blame folks for being curious to come check it out, however ghoulish in some cases (see below). As the the dust continues to settle — literally and figuratively — it’s hard not to worry about how this event is going to further transform this community. Surrounding local businesses are already starting to feel the pain, to say nothing of those caught immediately in the crossfire. It’s unimaginable how those directly affected by this must be coping.
And what will become of the site of the disaster itself? How will justice be meted out to the homeowners and businesses from those four buildings? Will they be compensated? What will come next? Some new, antiseptic condo tower? Maybe a public plaza? Somehow, I strenuously doubt the latter.
If you’re looking for more pictures of the devastation, I’m sure there is no shortage of them already floating around social media, but I’ve been struck by two more pictures pertaining to this whole story (much like the 1981 shot I put up on Thursday). Both are heartbreaking, albeit for entirely different reasons.
My blogging comrade Jeremiah Moss posted the shot below on his Facebook page on Friday, and it really put the hook in me. Taken by James and Karla Murray, the couple behind the amazing “Store Front” photographs, here’s a lovely shot of the affected stretch of Second Avenue between East 7th and St. Mark’s Place. Click on it to enlarge.
Here’s how they captioned it.
The collapse now spans to corner. Small stores affected by yesterday's gas explosion/fire on Second Avenue near East 7th Street in the East Village. Three buildings have now collapsed as a result of the fire. Our hearts go out the injured and to everyone who lost their home or business. Panoramic photo from 2001 appears in our book "Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York.”
I love that this photo shows both Loves Saves the Day and the original incarnation of Toy Tokyo,…two of my favorite spots on a strip that also included, back in the day, two amazing record stores, Wowsville and Freebeing (both long gone, of course).
But, again, beyond favorite shops and restaurants, it’s prudent to remember that while this neighborhood has gone through its hills and valleys as a destination for all stripes of demographics (from bohemians, poets and punks through frat boys, yupsters and nightlife revelers), it is first and foremost a place many people call HOME, regardless of its reputation. For some of us, it’s now a sad to place to visit. For others, it’s the end of their world.
This point is precisely why this other photograph that’s been making the rounds on social media has left me so flabbergasted. Have a look.
Yes, here’s a gaggle of women posing for a “selfie” just up the road from the collapse site (first spied on the Facebook page of another fellow blogger, EV Grieve, who found it on Twitter). My first reaction was simply, “Why the FUCK are they smiling?” Did it not occur to a single one of those seven whistleheads that what they were doing was slavishly inappropriate and in spectacularly bad fucking taste? Is a group “Tragedy Selfie” really the best way to document this experience?
It just makes me vibrate with incredulous rage. I'd love to see a statement from one of them at one point, but I'm not holding my breath.
Now a quick break from the East 7th Street story. Honestly speaking, I don’t believe there’s anything I can really say to do justice to the unexpected magnitude of its affect on the neighborhood. It’s quite literally overwhelming. It has to be seen with one’s own eyes.
But as a lighter, incongruous diversion…
My daughter had to do a report on the Chrysler Building for a social studies class not too long back. In the course of same, Charlotte learned a bunch of facts about the storied landmark, but was fishing around for extra things should could mention that might distinguish her presentation from the rest of the pack. I can’t say I knew much about the fabled skyscraper that she hadn’t already addressed. I’ve been inside it once, to visit a headhunter whose normal clientele were so far above my paltry pay grade that their ears must have been popping. I remember gazing out that woman’s windows in genuine awe. It was the only good thing to come out of that exchange.
Beyond that, the only other thing that sprang to mind was the below clip by Matt Johnson’s The The, a cover of Hank Williams' “I Saw The Light” (which, you might recall, I cited in this unsolicited round-up of music videos shot on NYC rooftops). In it, we see Johnson and his hearty henchman playing manfully atop the Manhattan skyline, while Johnson boldly croons from on top of the head of one of the Chrysler Building’s art decco gargoyles. I can’t say for sure, but it looks like he actually did it (i.e. it’s not a special effect against a blue screen). Kudos for that. Here `tis again....
I showed the clip to Charlotte, who dutifully watched for a couple of seconds before getting bored.
In doing so, however, I was suddenly reminded of another clip that found a lead singer serenading the city from that same lofty perch, that being Natalie Merchant, then of 10,000 Maniacs. In re-exhuming “These Are The Days,” however, it looks like Natalie completely punked out — that’s clearly a blue screen she’s warbling in front off. Points off for that.
If I’m not mistaken, my friend Sara worked as a production assistant on this video shoot. I remember her saying that Merchant was a completely po-faced pill during the proceedings and bitterly complained about staffers smoking during a break. Sounds about right.
Someone posted the above photo on the Facebook group NYC 1950 to Present several weeks back, and it immediately struck a chord with me (click on it to enlarge). The poster didn’t know the photo’s origin (it turns out it was taken by one Sven Kierst in 1981). This is, of course, the corner of East 7th Street at Second Avenue. In later years, this corner would become the vintage shop Love Saves the Day (immortalized in “Desperately Seeking Susan”) and later still a restaurant called Sushi Park.
The gent at the phone booth is, most likely, one Nick Marden of the Stimulators (I initially misidentified him as drummer/future Cro-Mag Harley Flanagan). I also love the flyers adorning the walls advertising upcoming gigs by then-prominent East Village bands like Von Lmo and The Senders. This photograph handily encapsulates almost everything I love about an era of Downtown Manhattan that simply does not exist anymore.
But yesterday, this photo took on a little extra resonance.
I was uptown yesterday afternoon when my iPhone started buzzing with texts from friends telling me that St. Mark’s Place was on fire. By the time I got back downtown around 6:30 pm, it was utter chaos around Astor Place and points east. Between the sirens and the thick, acrid smoke that was blowing west, there was an eerie familiarity to proceedings. Wanting to get a closer look, I strolled around Cooper Union, but couldn’t seem to get any further than Third Avenue. But looking beyond the fire trucks and swarms of fire fighters, reporters, cops and onlookers, all I could see was smoke engulfing the entire block.
I walk down East 7th Street between Third and Second Avenues pretty frequently. As regular patient at East Village Chiropractic, you can find me strolling down that way at least once a week. I’m also a big fan of Jimmy’s 43, the subterranean bar just beneath Burp Castle and, of course, McSorley’s. But beyond the dozen or so businesses that operate off of East 7th, there is also that storied Ukrainian church, community center and scores of homes. I can’t help but think of all those lives displaced. You just don’t expect a street you regularly walk down to suddenly be the scene of such catastrophe.
As far as I know, the building in the picture at the top of this post has collapsed. My sincere condolences and best wishes go out to everyone in this community.
I normally wouldn’t follow up a recent post on inane Ramones trivia with another post about inane Ramones trivia, but while waiting for the Third Avenue bus with my kids earlier this week, I was struck by another arguably crucial revelation from Marky Ramone’s book that illuminated a question I’d posed here on Flaming Pablum a while back.
Those with a disarming amount of untapped cerebellum in their skulls may remember an entry I posted back in 2013, wherein I speculated that both the cover of Blondie’s Autoamerican and the video for the Ramones’ “We Want the Airwaves” took place on the roof top of 108 Leonard Street, otherwise known as the Clocktower Gallery.
Well, as it turned out, that was incorrect in both instances. The cover of Autoamerican — though a painting — was based on photographs snapped on the roof of a building on 8th Street and Broadway (see that whole explanation by clicking here and scrolling down).
Meanwhile, the Ramones did film a video on the Clocktower Gallery rooftop, but it wasn’t for “We Want the Airwaves.” It was for their cover of the theme from the “Spider-Man” cartoon. It’s a fun little clip, apart from the segments featuring Drew Barrymore needlessly expounding on a cartoon series that was on the air well before she was born. Here `tis…
For the longest while, I never did determine where the video for “We Want the Airwaves” was shot — but, once again, leave it to Marky Ramone’s “Punk Rock Blitzkrieg” to divulge the details.
According to Marky, the video for “Airwaves” was shot on the roof of Joey’s apartment building at the time, that being 115 East 9th Street (the big building below as seen from Third Avenue). That actually makes more sense, given the visual proximity to nearby landmarks like the Consolidated Edison clock tower on the corner of 14th Street and Irving Place.
As I mentioned back on this post, there was a great quote about New York City in “Girl in a Band,” the recently published memoir of Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth, that being the following…
"Any place I depended on once to be deserted now teems with bodies and long black cars and faraway accents all day, all night.”
It’s a line that practically leapt off the page at me when I read, as I’ve been thinking the same thing for eons.
There used to be vast swathes of Manhattan that were simply empty, quiet and desolate. It seems inconceivable today, but the Meatpacking District, SoHo, TriBeCa, Hell’s Kitchen and wide patches of the Lower East Side used to be whisper quiet and seem virtually uninhabited.
This is largely no longer the case today, of course (although, as I mentioned in this post, there is still a pervasive sense of desolation along the western edges of Hell's Kitchen). Being that there are no frontiers left on the island, and brand new development is everywhere, the days of finding a quiet patch of Manhattan concrete (for whatever reason, nefarious or otherwise) are gravely endangered. Once the rail yard project is completed, even those remaining areas in the far reaches of Hell's Kitchen will be teeming with people.
I’ve cited the photography of Gregoire Alessandrini here a number of times, but he’s recently updated his amazing photoblog, New York City 1990’s, with a great installment about stretches of the wild West side that used to seem entirely deserted. At the risk of belaboring the obvious, his images of these barren locations are in stark contrast to the reality of today.
Earlier today, I was looking to augment a post-in-the-works about a certain building with a photograph of The Cramps standing in front of what I believed to be the same building. In looking for that photo, I turned to my semi-long-neglected Tumblr site, the unimaginatively titled Get Back to Work.
I started Get Back to Work about five years ago whilst I was toiling as a contracted homepage editor for MSN.com. During fleeting spells of downtime, my similarly inclined colleague Drew and I ended up e-mailing each other countless bits of visual ephemera that either made us laugh, sparked a debate or spoke to our mutual interests.
I decided, at one point, to store these and similar images in a Tumblr site, ideally as something of a side dish to the entree that is Flaming Pablum. Get Back To Work also became a quick and easy way to store images for later use on the blog. Some made it. Others didn’t. Some may yet still.
Regardless, half-a-decade later, there are precisely 255 pages of Get Back to Work, each filled to the gills with images of exactly the type of crap that I care about. If you dig what you read here, please feel free to avail yourselves to it. It doesn’t involve a lot of heavy lifting. Just click through it and let your eyes enjoy.
For over a decade, I had the distinct honor of working at TIME Magazine, specifically for the News Desk, which put me at the center of the hourglass between the magazine's editorial staff and the network of correspondents around the world. As a result, I was fortunate enough to befriend journalists in virtually every major city across the globe, given that I was the voice on their phone at 3 AM, gently informing them that news was breaking in their backyard and we needed them on the scene. While it came with a somewhat grueling schedule (two overnights a week, which did irreparable damage to my circadian rhythms), it was an immensely gratifying job. Ten years after leaving the operation, I feel a strong, familial kinship with all of the folks from TIME I worked alongside. I miss them all quite a bit.
In any case, relatively late into my tenure at the magazine, a journalist joined TIME’s London bureau, and in my semi-regular dealings with her, I became genuinely amazed to discover that she was married to one of my heroes, that being the inimitable Gang of Four guitarist Andy Gill. It seemed inconceivable to me that there was only one degree of separation between me and an iconoclast of British post-punk (especially when Gill was drafted to produce the 2003 album by my beloved Killing Joke). I remain in awe.
In any case, said journalist recently posted a pic on her Facebook page of what I believe to be an exhibition of Anton Corbijn’s photographs, specifically featuring this striking photo of Gang of Four in New York City below (cropped from her original pic).
I scoured the `net looking for another representation of this picture, but have come up empty. I’d love to see a more detailed print of it.
Can anyone name the location?
Here’s a bit of vintage live Gang of Four from 1981…..
Honestly speaking, I would never have expected Dr. Martens — arguably the “go-to” footwear of anyone weaned on British punk rock — to pander to stereotype, dilute the message and/or just plain ol’ get it wrong (but now that I think about it — they’ve doneit before). Once upon a time, Dr. Marten just did what they did — make hard-as-nails big, fuckoff boots without needing to suck up to or reinforce their standing with their target demographic.
Looking back, I’m not sure why the British youth first took to Dr. Martens (a straight-ahead footwear company who made sturdy work boots for the common man, so to speak) any more than why mods and rudeboys chose to adopt Fred Perry shirts (Fred Perry, at the end of the day, not being a foul-mouthed hooligan but rather simply an accomplished, championship tennis player). Things just worked out that way, I suppose.
So, while Dr. Martens didn’t intend to manufacture what became the signature footwear of burly British skinheads (and later Punk Rockers and denizens of myriad other subcultures on both sides of the Atlantic), that just simply became their stock in trade. One wonders if they were happy about it, but they couldn’t have been too displeased, as it certainly paid off for them. I don’t believe I know a single fellow music acolyte that didn’t, at one point or another, own a pair of battered Docs. Lord knows my closet’s still full of’em.
The passage of time, however, does strange things. In much the same way fashionistas started cherry picking bits of the sartorial trappings of rock’s countless subcultures for the catwalk — ironic metal t-shirts, spiky bracelets, grungy flannel, etc. — Dr. Martens’ clunky, utilitarian footwear gradually became more accessible, acceptable and no longer relegated to the closets of high school nogoodnicks and goth wallflowers. In short order, willowy fashion models and members of the Cockney Rejects alike suddenly had unlikely common ground in Dr. Marten’s boots.
Here in NYC, Dr. Martens vaulted out of the comparatively grubby shoe shops of West 8th Street and late, lamented 99X on East 10th and into their own comparatively bespoke outlets in SoHo and Union Square. You now see Dr. Martens on the feet of well-paid office execs in pricey midtown bistros and on the feet of stroller-pushing moms. Like most of the other accoutrements of the withering cadaver of punk, Dr. Martens have been subsumed by the mainstream. Sorry, Skrewdriver.
So why am I bothering to exhume all this ancient history? Well, I got an e-mail from Dr. Martens recently advertising their “Core Collection,” featuring pre-“rub-off’ variations. As they describe it…
In the early '80s, US Hardcore musicians and fans customized their Dr. Martens, painting over the original color with whatever struck their fancy. But over time, those hand-painted finishes would wear thin, revealing, layer by layer, the history of a well-worn shoe. Offered in classic smooth leather with a hand-crafted rub-off effect, our Pascal boot salutes the ingenuity of the wearer and the longevity of Dr. Martens alike. Goodyear welted, stitched and sealed, it's made to last long enough to reflect your own history as well.
Alright, so why I am so aggrieved by this? I mean, in 2015, why do I care? I just find it so depressing that Dr. Martens are selling pre-distressed footwear. It’s essentially the same concept as selling pre-faded, vintage t-shirts, I suppose (let alone for a handsome price), that lumpenly seek to broadcast that the wearer “was there, maaaaaan.” I've always hated that. While it’s ultimately the music that matters the most, I've hated to see the accompanying bits of sartorial flourish and visual ephemera cheaply appropriated by folks for whom the points of origin mean nothing. It’s silly, I know, but it bugs the Hell out of me.
Taking that a step even further into the realm of precious punk pedantry, take a look at the image associated with Dr. Marten’s “Core Collection.”
Alright, to the layperson, we see a pair of boots atop an artfully messy collage of vintage hardcore flyers. Closer scrutiny reveals citations of classic West Coast hardcore bands like Black Flag, Circle Jerks and Bad Religion (along with the signature artwork of cartoonist Shawn Kerri, who I’d bet was not compensated for same). Dig a little deeper, however, and you’ll see invocations of bands like The Misfits, Corrosion of Conformity and bits of this flyer…..
Not that it matters, but The Misfits were from New Jersey, Corrosion of Conformity were from North Carolina and N.O.T.A. were from Oklahoma. And Stache’s (the venue featured in the flyer above) was in Columbus, Ohio.
What’s my problem?
THIS IS NOT WEST COAST HARDCORE!!!
You’d think they could have paid a little more attention to the details.
I’ve gone after Chloe Sevigny here a couple of times (see below). I’m not sure why, exactly, but she just manages time and again to irritate the Hell out of me. Yes, I know she’s smart and cool and has good taste and actually knows and likes the bands on her t-shirts and is friends with cool people and blah blah blah, but I just find her to be so cloying.
Her latest stunt is an entirely unsolicited bit of bullshit that’s been making the rounds, that being a “Guide to Being a New Yorker.” Presumably conceived as a hip retort to the whole Taylor Swift nonsense of a few months back, Chloe’s attempt strikes me as just as vapid as Taylor’s and, well JUST NOT FUNNY OR CLEVER ENOUGH. Check it out for yourself.
Yes, I know I recently pointed out that being a native New Yorker ultimately doesn’t make much of a difference in the grand scheme of things, being that so many of the city’s storied movers, shakers and visionaries all came here from somewhere else, but I can’t stop myself from pointing out that Chloe was born in Massachusetts and then raised in Darien, Connecticut. Thus, NOT A GODDAMN NEW YORKER.
One other thought about this….
Not every New Yorker needs to “despise" Los Angeles. If fact, most New Yorkers probably don’t give L.A. that much thought. Moving to California isn’t something your average New Yorker spends a great amount of time ruminating on. That’s a showbiz concern, Chloe, not a New Yorker concern.
And joke all ya want, but knowing your past IS important. Yogurt never will be.