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.
...ala "Seeking a self-starting rockstar web producer" or "Rockstar copy editor wanted." Proper rockstars are loud, rude, entitled, frequently stupid, maladjusted drug-abusers who speak in slurred swears, bite the heads off of small animals, make insanely unreasonable demands, engage in random acts of vandalism and regularly pass out.
Late last week, Curbed linked back to a quick entry I’d posted about the impending demise of everything that’s cool about 190 Bowery, calling me a “nostalgia blogger” along the way. I suppose that’s technically sort of accurate, but I came away from that feeling a little short-changed. Earlier this week, meanwhile, after I posted an image of the newly re-designed fountains in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Facebook, a friend of mine flatly declared: “You miss everything.”
While I hate to think of myself as a flagrant nostalgist, I guess it must seem like I do genuinely miss everything (especially coupled with my disdain for so much of what’s new here in NYC).
In light of this, I thought I’d fly in the face of convention and cite six things about New York City that I DON’T miss. You, dear reader, will invariably beg to differ with at least one of these, but then — start your own list:
6. PUBLIC PAY PHONES They required a pocket-full of change, they were frequently broken, they were filthy and smelled like urine .. what’s not to dislike? As much as it's brought along a wide spectrum of new things to complain about, the advent of smartphones has rendered pay phones pretty useless, and that’s fine with me.
5. B. ALTMAN’S 365 Fifth Avenue (now the CUNY GRADUATE CENTER) If you’re a youngster, you probably don’t remember B. Altman’s, but it was a massive department store on Fifth Avenue just north of the Empire State Building. It’s not that I’m a big fan of its then-competitors like Gimbel’s, Macy’s, Bloomingdales and the like, but I remember shopping for school clothes at B. Altman’s with my mother and always having a miserable time. When it closed, my heart cheered.
4. “SEINFELD”/“FRIENDS”/"SEX AND THE CITY” Here’s where I really start alienating people. I’ve never given the single, slightest whiff of a good goddamn about any of these “quintessentially New York” shows. Bullshit, all three of ’em. “Seinfeld” is the most overrated sitcom in history, and the other two are so lamentable that taste and decorum forbid me going into detail here about how much I loathe them. It sucks that they all live on in syndication, but they all made me want to friggin’ move out of New York City with all goddamn speed. That douchey location tours, themed coffee shops and jello shot trivia contests have been spawned in their respective wakes only fuels my ire.
3. LE Q 36 East 12th Street (now a comparatively sedate antique emporium) This probably seems like a fairly obscure one, but it drove me insane. True crime fans might recognize the name as being the location of a notorious 1992 shooting by a Chinatown street gang called the Tung On Boys. I naively hadn’t heard about that particular crime when I moved into an apartment in a building across the street from it in 1996, but I doubt it would have stopped me anyway. Regardless, Le Q was a twenty-four-hour pool hall on East 12th between Broadway and University Place. During the day, it was pretty easy to ignore, but in the otherwise placid dead of night, you had cars parking outside with boomin' trunk-o’-funks, blasting hip hop at volumes that rattled the rafters. More worryingly, however, were the gang activities that still went down there, even years after the afore-cited 1992 shooting. One night, I heard a scuffle outside and ran to the window. From the relative safety of my living room, I watched what I can only assume was an initiation as at least thirty Asian teens brutally swarmed on one hopeful newbie outside of Le Q. They beat the tar out of him in a coldly-calculated spectacle that was both fascinating and horrifying. The departure of Le Q was a moment of great joy for the neighborhood.
2. THE TUNNEL 220 Twelfth Avenue (Not sure what’s there now) I know The Tunnel was a part of Peter Gatien’s notorious circuit of iconic NYC nightclubs that also included The Limelight and The Palladium, but I have to say that I was never a big fan of this particular establishment. I didn’t like the music they played. I didn’t like the scene and I certainly didn’t dig the crowd. I only went a couple of times, but it was never especially fun. I mean, techno and hip hop aren’t really my cups of tea to begin with, but beyond that, the vibe was just kinda unpleasant. I didn’t cry when it closed in 2001.
1. DEREK JETER Sorry. It’s nothing personal against the man…I just don’t give a SINGLE SHIT about professional sports. Never have. Never will. It means nothing to me.
While wasting my time on Facebook recently (and, honestly, isn’t that the most accurate way of describing it?) I came across a provocatively titled and needlessly epic-length blog post dubbed “It’s Finally Time to Stop Caring About Lauryn Hill.” Personally speaking, while I do own both The Score by the Fugees and The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, I’d suggest that the time to stop caring about Ms. Hill transpired wellbefore the Clinton Administration left office, but whatever.
In any case, in an attempt to frame the passage of time and how it related to Ms. Hill’s celebrated debut album, the author of the post had this to say….
My introduction to this masterpiece is not just an illustration of the power of the music, but how long ago it was released. There are no more record stores, and these days we rarely come into contact with new CDs. The idea of going to a store to discover music seems downright prehistoric.
Somewhat predictably, to the assertion above, I have this to say: Fuck you.
For a start, there ARE still a few record stores, although their numbers are small. I regularly come into contact with new compact discs, and I still think going into a music shop to discover new tunes is one of the best ways to do it (it just requires a little more effort, you lazy so-and-so).
My palpable vitriol notwithstanding, though, this blogger still has a point. Things aren’t like they used to be when it comes to discovering, acquiring and — I so hate to use this word but I suppose it’s entirely applicable - consuming new music. My friend and fellow ILXOR veteran Jody Beth Rosen posted something on my Facebook page yesterday that tellingly and poetically illustrated this point.
The Unofficial Guide to Music in Greenwich Village and More evidently dates back to March of 1995 and it’s a lovingly-if-clunkily composed roster for music shoppers of a different age. I’m sure I composed comparable lists innumerable times. Breaking proceedings down into geographical portions, the piece’s author — one Bob Gajarsky (where are you today, Bob?) cites downtown Manhattan’s then-robust array of record and disc shops, going into detail about the strengths and weaknesses of each shop.
If you miss and fetishize NYC record and disc shops like I do, it’s a tear-stained stroll down memory lane. It’s also worth noting that of about the fifty-or-so shops Bob cites, only about 8 of them actually remain in operation in one form or another. Chew on that.
First of all, Mr. Winkie — since you’re not a New Yorker but rather a resident of Austin, Tx (a berg, one could argue, equally saddled with a pompous hipster reputation) — what you invariably fail to realize is that New York City DOESN’T CARE THAT YOU HATE IT. Rest assured, it’s mutual.
Secondly, Winkie sets his sights on “New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down” by LCD Soundsystem. To my mind, this was one of the first songs in goddamn eons to rhapsodize New York City that actually managed to GET IT RIGHT. Sure, maybe you lament James Murphy for being cooler than you are (as he quite assuredly is), but isn’t the real deal a bit more satisfying than, say, “Empire State of Mind” by fucking Jay-Z and Alicia Keys (a staggeringly cliched and banal anthem you left off your list for unfathomable reasons, as it makes even me hate NYC, and I was fucking born here)? Whether you haunted the halls of Danceteria and the Mudd Club with Murphy’s forebears or not, there’s absolutely zero arguing that New York City used to be cooler than it is is now. That’s not a matter of opinion, that’s just a fucking fact.
Maybe because they’re easy targets, Winkie also fails to cite “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra and “New York State of Mind” by Billy Joel ... or maybe he just thought they were too hallowed to harp on? You could also argue that "Back in the New York Groove" by Ace Frehley (originally penned by Argent's Russ Ballard for a British band dubbed Hello!) and/or "Native New Yorker" by Odyssey are ripe for condemnation, being that they're both hopelessly dated.
Anyway, it's an infuriating piece, but if you like, you can read it all here.
Yeah, I know -- there are already way too many books about CBGB out there, but hang on a second.
For a start, photographer David Godlis is a goddamn legend. Secondly, I found his ruminations on night-shooting by available light (influenced by pioneering Hungarian photographer Brassai) to be really pretty interesting.
My Facebook bud/photographer Susan Fensten's father John snapped same circa 1980 (which she, in turn, posted on the excellent Facebook group, Manhattan Before 1990). I still remember it being like that.....a wide expanse of space with precious few souls about.
It's a very different scene these days, of course. Here's that very same spot about fifteen minutes ago (with my kids in front of it, of course). How times have changed, eh?
Fensten's original shot reminds of the video below. I've wheeled it out a few times, but I just love the quiet, unhurried vibe of it all....
As far as I'm concerned, this summer has sucked a sizable amount of balls. As such, what better tune to close out the season than the uproariously applicable "Summertime Blues"?
As I mentioned back on this ancient post, while Eddie Cochran's hallowed anthem to frustrated deliquency has been covered by everyone from The Who through the Black Keys, my very favorite rendition is by the ludicrously amusing Japanese garage punk ensemble Guitar Wolf. If you are unfamiliar with them, that is a tragedy to be remedied with all stealth. Here's their endearingly over-the-top rendition, best experienced at a VERY HIGH VOLUME.
Well, were it not already strenuously enjoyable, here comes Bug TV's homage to same, addressing Guitar Wolf's heroically incomprehensible Japanglish with suitably explosive aplomb. ENJOY AGAIN:
Hey again, all. Just a very quick one. I'm currently deeply ensconced in familial matters (see previous post) and taking care of a dizzying amount of logistics, but I spotted this whilst quickly perusing the `Net, and thought it was something worth sharing here.
I'm a member, on Facebook, of a group called Manhattan Before 1990 -- which is pretty self-explanatory in terms of the subject matter of the discussion. Essentially, members post their favorite pictures and ephemera of the city from ages past (much like I do here). This morning, a fellow member named Ruben posted the following picture, prefaced with the accompanying information:
Marilyn Monroe Wasn' t The Only Beauty That Sam Shaw Photographed On The Streets Of New York. (Sam Shaw - Lee Remick, The Bowery, New York City, 1960.)
Indeed, few could argue that Lee Remick wasn't an entirely fabulous babe, as this picture handily demonstrates. But can anyone name the street she's giving it some serious smolder on? Weigh in.
Meanwhile, the second I spotted this, my head immediately filled with the strains of this favorite from the old Go-Betweens. Crank it.
Back in 2008, I wrote a weepy little post about my drunken nights on Ludlow Street in the 90's, noting that I no longer spent that much time on that particular strip of the Lower East Side. Well, now that Max Fish, the Luna Lounge, Barramundi, Motor City, the Pink Pony, El Sombrero and the Ludlow Street Cafe are all but a memory (in some jarring instances replaced my imposing new high rises), I have even less reason to go there.
That all said, I'd read recently about a Beastie Boys mural being painted on the east-facing facde of the corner shop originally featured on the cover of Paul's Boutique(where Ludlow intersects with Rivington), and felt obligated to go check it out. Below is my capture of same.
It's impressive, but the Ludlow Street of the Beastie Boys' era is a distant memory by this point, replaced by what my comrade Jeremiah Moss once again described to as a "world of vocal frying dumb talk."
Still, it's a nice mural. By the way, if you're a fan of Paul's Boutique (and if you're not -- you're pretty much dead to me), you might enjoy this.
Hey again, all. I still only have tenuous access to all things Web these days, so please sit tight. In the interim, however, I saw this breeze by on Facebook recently, and thought I'd share it.
Here's a (presumably) homemade vid for "Oh! Sweet Nuthin'" by ye olde Velvet Underground. Though the song dates back to about 1970 (it's the final track on the Loaded album), I can't quite put a date on the NYC footage herein. In any case, enjoy.
I hoep to be back in regular rotation shortly. Stay tuned.