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.
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.
Hey all, just a quick one. I'm actually sequestered out on the `Island for a while with limited computer access, so bear with me.
During my two-month hiatus, my comrade Drew sent me the video below, and I've meant to put up a post about it ever since.
This October will mark the eight-year anniversary of the closing of CBGB at 315 Bowery, a milestone that prompted much gnashing of teeth in many circles (including mine). The shuttering of the fabled rock club, endearingly squalid dive bar and ground zero of Punk Rock has since come to serve as a telling signifier of the transformation of New York City. That its address has since been co-opted by a bespoke clothier only reinforces that. The Bowery is a different place. Downtown is a different place. New York City is a different place. Those are just the facts.
Since CB's demise, the already robust mythology that surrounded it has only flourished (no thanks to a truly abortive film from 2013 about same, but the less said about that, the better). An invocation of a night of CBGB now comes grittily entrenched in the artful imagery of dimly lit urban decay, the insouciant cool of bohemia, the whiff of an anything-goes frontier and the palpable threat of violence. The name conjures up pictures like those found in Bri Hurley's "Making a Scene," a striking photographic document of the New York hardcore community (that's one of her shots above), or like the iconic image below of the No Wave all-stars... portraits of romantic characters existing on the edge of society.
Truth is, of course, not every night at CB's was like that. Not every show at 315 Bowery warranted the punk pageantry. Hell, in its last several years of operation, the booking policy at CBGB really wasn't that adventurous, nor did it attract room-filling big names. Even during its 70's and 80's heyday, some shows at CBGB were just that... shows. No one got stabbed. No one showed up with a mohawk. No cops were punched. It was just another night at one of the city's live music venues.
Below is another clip by Nelson Sullivan, the intrepid videographer I've written about before, who presciently made a point to document as much of his life on video as he could (prior to his untimely death). In this clip, Sullivan attends a record release party at the CBGB Record Canteen (remember that?) for Binky Philips, a somewhat-less-celebrated scene veteran, CB's regular and self-described "also-was." As an event, it's fairly low on thrills, but the video provides a tantalizing glimpse back at the scene circa 1987.
Watch for a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo of the cover of Killing Joke's Brighter Than a Thousand Suns amid the record racks.
These days, CBGB is the afore-cited John Varvatos boutique and the space that was the CBGB Record Canteen is now a Patagonia, for all your pricey, outdoorsy gear needs.
Don't panic .... Yaffa Cafe isn't going anywhere (or at least I don't think it is).
Back in the late 80's and into the 90's, I was something of a regular patron within the sparkly confines of this venerable St. Marks Place establishment. A good friend of mine dated a Yaffa Cafe waitress for a while. It was strategically located as a great staging point for various downtown missions. Alone with Sin-E down the street (long gone), it anchored its storied little strip of East Village quite nicely.
I stopped going at some point. The last time I was there may have been in 1993, when the Yaffa Cafe served as the location of my interview with all four members of Blur. This was just a little prior to their stardom-courting days of feuding with Oasis. I don't think I've set foot in the place since, sadly.
In any case, while walking by it yesterday, both of my kids couldn't help commenting on the Yaffa's signature mural, so I stopped and took the picture above ... instructing them to mimic it. An elderly gentleman sitting nearby smiled and noted that the mural in question was thirty years old. Unlike the comparatively recent Joe Strummer mural a block and a half to the east, it refreshingly hasn't been touched up, but nor has it been messed with. Long may she scream.
Anyway, I'm hoping to jump-start a new meme: #Yaffing.
Seems weird to be ringing in this blog's birthday after having gone dark for two months, but ya can't argue with the calendar. `Twas nine years ago today that I started typing slavishly overwritten and grammatically dubious entries here -- initially solely for the purposes of irritating a co-worker who'd started his own blog (which, I believe, he's long-since abandoned). Nine years later, I'm (more or less) still at it.
As expressed elsewhere here, I'm continually amazed that anyone turns up to read this stuff, let alone comes back or leaves a comment. There are wide swathes of this blog that continue to make me cringe, but it's here -- warts and all. I wish I'd come up with a better name than Flaming Pablum, but it's kinda too late now.
When Joey Ramone succumbed to cancer back in 2001, I was still working at TIME Magazine as a news desk editor. At the story meeting that morning, editors sat around the big conference table bandying ideas around as to who the magazine should reach out to for the purposes of penning a eulogy. A few chimed in suggesting "Johnny Rotten," the erstwhile Sex Pistol's infamously thorny persona still being the go-to name for all things punk rock. Rarely did I speak up in these meetings, being that I was a comparatively lower-ranking member of the team, but here was a subject I warmed to, to say the least. Knowing that John Lydon has never had anything even remotely positive to say about the contributions of the Ramones, I jumped into the conversation. You can read the rest of that saga here.
Thirteen years later, we've just lost the last original member of the Ramones to cancer. In typical fashion, the media are still getting their facts wrong. Reports seem split on whether he was 62 or 65. One network news program prefaced their report of Tommy (Erdelyi) Ramone's death with a snippet from the video for "I Wanna Be Sedated," taken from Road to Ruin ... an album Tommy did not play on. Minor quibbles, maybe, but c'mon ... get it right.
I actually had the privilege of working with Legs in the summer of 1989 when I interned at SPIN (you can read that sepia-toned epic poem here). He could be alternately rude, hilarious, cantankerous, thoughtful, abusive, somber, inspired and tirelessly inappropriate, but he was never, ever boring. Legs' eulogy to his fallen friend has a sobering finality to it, and might just be the only piece on Tommy Ramone's death you need to read.
The only other piece I've read about Tommy Ramone's death that struck a chord with me was from the Daily Mash (sort of Britain's answer to The Onion). The headline pretty much sums it up: 99 per cent of Ramones t-shirt owners not upset.
As I mentioned with great, rude aplomb on this post from 2012, I've never given the slightest crap about Billy Joel. Yes, I realize he's NYC to the bone and all that (witness local classic rock radio's tireless insistence on wheeling out "It's Still Rock 'n' Roll To Me," "Captain Jack" and -- god help us all -- "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" at every conceivable opportunity), but seriously -- enough already. I mean, I don't wish the man ill or anything (well, not really), but I've just never really enjoyed his music (see also Springsteen, but that's a hellfire-tempting post for another day).
In any case, a comrade of mine on the NYC-blogging front, the disarmingly astute Bob Egan of PopSpots, apparently is quite a fan of Mr. Joel's. Good sport that he is, Egan overlooks my fandom for bands he probably can't stand like SWANS, the Cro-Mags and the Plasmatics, and regularly shares information with me.
Back on that earlier post, I linked back to a typically sprawling post of Bob's which pinpointed several key album cover locations from Billy Joel. Even if you (rightly) don't think much of the Piano Man, it makes for fascinating reading.
Anyway, there is one specific spot I pass by on a semi-regular basis that I did know had a special relevance to hapless Billy Joel fans like dear Bob. When I was out on that afore-cited marathon trek around Lower Manhattan a couple of weeks back with my intrepid little kindernauts, we passed through SoHo and by a specifc stoop on Mercer Street between Houston and Prince. To walk by it now, you'd probably never give it a second thought. But to someone with a head swimming with utterly useless rock-dork trivia, I couldn't resist paying some cheeky homage to the former Mr. Christie Brinkley.
The other day, you may remember, I posted the vintage photograph above by one Charles Steiner of a gaggle of punks holding court at the bar of former Bowery haunt Great Gildersleeves circa 1983, and asked if anyone could name the players involved.
As I mentioned, the gent in the "I GOT SHIT FOR BRAINS" shirt is inarguably the great Cheetah Chrome of the Dead Boys, and I postulated that the dude on the far left is tough-guy character actor Clancy Brown (although I could be mistaken). A reader named G, meanwhile, recently wrote in with more. G writes...
I believe red-bandana guy is the late Bobby Snots, singer from the Whorelords.
Blue-bandana guy, I don't know, but the girls look familiar.
I'd head the name Whorelords before, most recently as read about in the exhaustively detailed Misfits biography, "This Music Leaves Stains" (if you're a fan of Messrs. Danzig, Only, Doyle, Steele et al., it's a total must-read), but I'd never heard them before. A quick Google search turned up the video below, seemingly tailored to inducing vertigo and/or nausea (hit "play" to find out what I mean).
The guy at the mic does indeed resemble red-bandana guy. See what you think.
You'll have to forgive me, people. As I mentioned in my hiatus-breaking post, I am indeed back, but it might be a little while before I re-find my sea legs, so to speak. There's a lot happening on the home front, and I'm just not myself these days. I'm afraid I've lost a bit of my mojo. So, anyway, bear with me.
I do have a lengthier post in the works, though. In doing research for same, I did a Google image search and came up with the photograph below, which came embedded on this article about Greenwich Village history. The photo in question was evidently snapped by one Charles Steiner circa 1983 inside the late Bowery joint Great Gildersleeves (a since-vanished venue I wrote about back on this post).
At first glance, I was immediately able to identify Dead Boys guitarist and Flaming Pablum favorite Cheetah Chrome (he with the distinctive, bug-eyed stare and "I GOT SHIT FOR BRAINS" t-shirt), but who are the other figures?
I'm speculating, but the guy to Cheetah's right on the far-left hand side of the picture (with the light blue bandana around his head) looks disarmingly like actor Clancy Brown (who played the fearsome Kurgan in "Highlander," Captain Hadley in "The Shawshank Redemption" and bully Viking Lofgren in "Bad Boys."). Kinda looks like him, right?
But who the guy with the red bandana flippin' the subtle bird is, or the ladies in leather on the right? No clues. Any ideas?
And, should you need reminding, here's Cheetah Chrome just a block or so down from where the above photo was taken. Dead Boys at CBGBG in `77...
I've had a lot of free time with the kids lately. By this point in the proceedings, my little ones are used to being trooped around the city and asked to pose inexplicably in front of seemingly incidental landmarks (usually music-related). They're incredibly good sports about it. In any case, while we were traipsing around Central Park earlier this week (in the sweltering heat), I was struck by another locale. I raised my camera (well, my iPhone) accordingly. Here's the story.
I discussed Tom Verlaine's Dreamtime album in greater depth back on this ancient post from 2006. It became a big favorite of mine after first hearing my friend Warwick play "Always" on our college radio station, Denison University's WDUB 91.1 FM in Granville, Ohio. As I said back on that earlier post, it bore all the signature trappings of Verlaine's work with Television, but had a bit more propulsive kick to it.
In any case, the back cover of Dreamtime features a striking shot of midtown Manhattan from a vespetine vantage point inside the rambling wilds of Central Park. Being a native New Yorker myself, Verlaine's decision to adorn the record with such a suitably dreamy depiction of my hometown only made me love the record all the more. Here's that back cover....
Well, on Monday afternoon, after an obligatory visit to Central Park's carousel (itself a storied landmark, cited in touchstones like J.D. Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye" and David Mamet's "The Spanish Prisoner," to name but two), my kids and I strolled east. Just before the bridge over The Pond (just to the the southwest of the Central Park Zoo), I looked up and there it was (more or less).
33 years after the release of Dreamtime, here are my kids in (more or less) the same spot.
For the past several days, I've been trying to figure out a way back into this weblog.
You'll remember that a little over two months ago, I put Flaming Pablum more or less on ice. This wasn't the first time I've ever done this, but it was certainly the longest time I've ever had to step away.
Generally speaking, I'm usually not especially cryptic about things -- quite to the contrary, actually. If anything, I'm a chronically chatty over-sharer. But as I've been alluding since the close of last year, we've had some issues here at home on the personal front. This was suddenly compounded by some equally pressing issues in a professional capacity. As such, I had to batten down the proverbial hatches and focus fully on the matters at hand for a while.
So, that's what I did.
As fate's had it, things have worked themselves out in a way that wasn't quite what I'd anticipated or was endeavoring towards. I believe it was old John Lennon who's said that life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans. Great. Look what happened to him.
Anyway, be that as it may, I've decided to come back and start posting again. There's no real reason not to at this stage. I'm in something of a different headspace these days, but I'm trying to move forward and re-align myself.
In the past two months, I had been setting little news items aside for the purposes of addressing here on Flaming Pablum, but after a while it seemed so futile. In the weeks I've been away, my native Manhattan has been further beset by radical and unfortunate changes to locales I've held dear -- from Kid Robot in SoHo to St. Mark's Bookshop on Third Avenue to Kim's in the East Village to Japonica on University Place. Hell, as recently as yesterday, I took my kids for a final couple of frames over at Bowlmor on University Place, as today it closes for good. The space that Bowlmor's occupied has been a bowling alley in one capacity or another since 1938. Now, the building is being razed to accommodate yet another luxury condo.
I've been following the events via my colleagues over at Vanishing New York, EV Grieve, Bowery Boogie and a few others. I'm way behind at this stage, but I hope to bring proceedings up to speed soon. It may take me a while to re-find my voice (and re-build my readership -- is anyone actually still out there?), but I'll get there.
I would also like sincerely thank those of you who wrote in and left such encouraging comments along the way. I've been humbled by your interest and compassion.