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.
Back in 2010, you may remember a post wherein I wondered about John Lennon’s New York City. Obviously, it’s well established that he was deeply enamored of this town, but what were the specifics? Beyond hanging out with Yoko and Sean at the Dakota and maybe walking around Central Park, what did he like to do? Did he have a favorite pizza place? Did he like browsing through books at The Strand? Was he fond of perusing the perfume aisles of Bloomingdales? Did he just enjoy strolling through Greenwich Village (as photographer Brian Hammill caught him doing above in 1972)? What was John’s New York?
There is that anecdote I alluded to about John supposedly meeting Bobby Steele (then guitarist for the Misfits) at the Mudd Club, wherein the drunk soon-to-be ex-Misfit reportedly puked at the former Beatle’s feet, but there are evidently myriad variations of that particular story in which both the puker and the puked-upon are different luminaries. I believe there have been photos of John hanging out at Studio 54, but I love the idea of Lennon checking out the post-punk scene at the Mudd Club.
But speaking of post-punk, having recently finished Tony Rettman’s hardcore oral history “NYHC,” I’ve moved onto “Who Killed Mr. Moonlight?,” the new memoir by David J. Haskins, better known as simply David J., the perma-sunglassed bass player of Bauhaus and Love & Rockets. As a longtime fan, I’m slavishly enjoying it, and practically finished it in a single sitting.
In any case, during a chapter wherein the eloquently witty bass player recounts Bauhaus’ first visit to New York City, J. writes….
The following afternoon, I made my way down to Greenwich Village for some last-minute record shopping before we flew home. I bought a John Lennon bootleg at Bleecker Bob’s, where I learnt that, had I arrived ten minutes earlier, I would have seen Mr. Lennon himself rummaging through the crates.
“Yeah, he comes in here all the time,” Bob told me, “and ya know, he’s this skinny little guy. It’s funny, `cos ya tend to think of John Lennon as, like, this big guy, right? But he ain’t big at all. Skinny little guy!” (Three months later, I would be devastated by the news that Lennon had been shot and killed outside of his apartment building.)
David J. also expounds, at one point, that the song “Who Killed Mr. Moonlight?” off Bauhaus’ penultimate break-up album, Burning from the Inside, was ostensibly about John Lennon’s death. So, there ya go.
Anyway, I love the notion of John Lennon rifling through the racks at Bleecker Bob’s. I remember seeing Marc Almond of Soft Cell there, as well as the full membership of Agnostic Front….not that either are entirely comparable to a Beatle-spotting.
I also love this anecdote, as it further humanizes the somewhat polarizing figure of Bleecker Bob Plotnick himself (above in front of the original MacDougal incarnation of the store). Sure, he was thorny curmudgeon, but a genuine NYC character in his own right.
Oddly enough, while Googling around for further insight, I came across this curious page about location shots for an invariably abortive 2006 film about Lennon’s death called — wait for it — “The Killing of John Lennon,” featuring the Mark David Chapman character perusing the racks of — WAIT FOR IT, ONCE AGAIN — Bleecker Bob’s.
The complete Bleecker Bob's chronicles on Flaming Pablum....
For a great many folks, I’d imagine, mention 2B on Avenue B -- otherwise known as The Gas Station -- and the first thing to spring to mind will be a notorious early summer performance in 1993 by these photogenic fellows…..
Yes, it was GG Allin & the Murder Junkies (who I’ve spoken about here a few times) who arguably put The Gas Station on the map (and probably helped spell its demise). That GG Allin's legacy is inexorably connected with The Gas Station is probably a sore spot for the artists who originally conceived of the place, but that can't be helped now.
In any case, Gothamist wrote up a little profile of Sullivan yesterday, citing that his archive of 1,900 hours of footage is now in the hands of NYU (Sullivan passed away in 1989). If you haven’t checked out his stuff and you’re nostalgic for the era in question, it’s really worth your time.
A lot of it was just Nelson walking around, having brunch and chatting with friends….nothing all that special much of the time. But in terms of capturing sights and scenes from that era, it’s pretty priceless. It also dispels a lot of revisionist mythology. Much as he did in that last post, my friend Drew shot me the clip of Sullivan’s below this morning and remarked how “normal” Avenue A looked in 1986 (having long been fed the yarn that it was a lawless badlands). Similarly, I put up a clip this past summer featuring a clip of Sullivan’s where he visits CBGB, revealing it to be just another night out on the town, and not a perilous dive into a violent underground scenario rife with chain-weilding mohicans. Clearly not every day in the 1980’s east of Astor Place was a dystopian apocalypse.
Following in the now established milieu of other celebrated oral histories like Legs McNeil & Gillian McCain’s “Please Kill Me,” it’s a fairly exhaustive examination of this city’s contribution to hardcore as told by most of its principal players. Personally speaking, while I was only invested in about half of that time period (and frankly put off by more of the mookish, knuckle-dragging antics of much of the NYHC scene), I still found it to be an illuminating and compelling read. Contrary to popular stereotypes, not every mover and shaker on the New York hardcore scene was a complete lunkhead.
I was particularly intrigued by the whole Rock Hotel passage, a period wherein aspiring promoter Chris Williamson effectively exploited the until-then fairly insular NYHC scene. While he indeed may have broadened the horizons and audiences of these bands (and purposely cross-polinated them with the metal community), he is largely perceived throughout the pages of “NYHC” to have been an avaricious svengali figure who was ultimately only out for his own gain. Having been a big fan of the Rock Hotel shows, I found this to be a bit depressing but not especially surprising. Even then, he seemed like kind of an operator and a bit of cheesy sleazeball (witness his cameos in the Cro-Mags’ video for “We Gotta Know” as he ushers the youthful and impressionable band into waiting limousines on their tour with Motorhead).
Late into 2014, much was made about Taylor Swift’s richly derided song “Welcome To New York,” along with her strenuously dubious appointment as the city’s new cultural ambassador (ultimately a roiling crock of shit, but whatever). The backlash was predictably swift and merciless … which is exactly as it should’ve been. I weighed in, of course.
In the wake of that, I started compiling a list of better NYC anthems in anticipation of an official video for “Welcome To New York,” but — last I checked — one never arrived. I had several likely candidates lined up to cite, but after a while — the moment passed, and I rightly forgot about it.
Earlier this week, however, the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion unleashed their video for “Do the Get Down,” a new track off their excellently titled forthcoming album Freedom Tower No Wave Dance Party 2015. Simply put, it just might be the most NYC video of all time.
Instead of merely stitching together shots of locations (not that there’s anything wrong with that), “Do The Get Down” is a visual love letter to New York City’s colorful cultural past more than just its architecture and topography. Spliced together like the samples on Paul’s Boutique by the Beastie Boys come images of old New York signage, pre-Disney Times Square, MTV’s “The Real Word,” SWANS, Jay-Z, the Wu-Tang Clan, Lung Leg, Jim Jarmusch’s “Permanent Vacation,” shots of an open air NYHC gig in Tompkins Square Park, Lydia Lunch, Nick Zedd, Rudy Giuliani, Public Enemy, “The Uncle Floyd Show,” sensationalist New York Post headlines, graffiti-slathered subway cars, Tom Verlaine of Television, The Fat Boys, breakdancing, Martin Scorsese’s “After Hours,” heroin, the Tompkins Square Park riots, “Wall Street,” Basquiat circa “Downtown `81,” the Club Kids, the Ramones on “The Joe Franklin Show,” a vintage “Plato’s Retreat” ad, CBGB, the New York Dolls, Patti Smith, the Dead Boys, Talking Heads, “The Robyn Byrd Show,” Crazy Eddie, Lou Reed’s ad for Honda Scooters in front of the Bottom Line, Tom Synder, Andy Warhol and Nico, “Taxi Driver,” “The Wanderers,” Alan Vega of Suicide, “The Warriors,” David “Son of Sam” Berkowitz, scenes from the blackout, “Midnight Cowboy, “ the Velvet Underground and more….
In fact, to my mind, the only things noticeably absent were maybe the Beastie Boys, Blondie, Cop Shoot Cop, Missing Foundation, Bella Abzug, Ed Koch, David Dinkins and maybe Al Goldstein (unless I missed them).
It’s practically everything I hold dear about New York City in one three minute clip. It's insane.
Enough of my yackin’ about it….. Enjoy “Do the Get Down”…
This is already making the rounds, but being that I’m a slavish fan of The Dictators (that’s them below, captured by the great Ebet Roberts circa 1978), legendary lead singer Handsome Dick Manitoba and the bar that bears his good name on Avenue B, Manitoba’s, it seemed worth throwing in my paltry two cents.
Manitoba’s has been having trouble with its neighbors for a long time now. I first mentioned it here on Flaming Pablum as far back as 2007. I’m relatively certain this is about the same neighbors, but Handsome Dick’s establishment was just forced to settle a case with an individual for an unwieldy amount of money that might ultimately spell the demise of the fabled bar.
If you’re unfamiliar with Manitoba’s (I dunno, maybe you’re from out of town?), it’s one of the last strongholds of legitimate New York City punk rock left in Manhattan. But even if you’re not a fan of gritty, unfettered, high decibel rock and its accompanying `tude, Manitoba’s is just simply a great, cool, intimate bar. Being a father of two little kids, I’m not let off my leash to go to the bars all that often, but when I am, Manitoba’s is usually high up on my list of necessary destinations.
In any case, as a result of their unfortunate circumstances — and listen to me, in the wake of 2014, I know all about unfortunate circumstances — Manitoba’s is reaching out to its fans and supporters and asking for a little helpful appreciation for their efforts in the form of some cash donations. Check out their indiegogo page.
Do the right thing and help out if you can, or Manitoba’s may tragically join the ranks of Max Fish, the Mars Bar, CBGB and countless other places of genuine NYC character that are no longer on our map.
I was fleetingly reminded this morning of a video that I had an inkling that I’d posted some long expanse of time ago, and became consumed with tracking it down. In doing so, I found myself combing through virtually every single early post of mine from 2005 until 2008, which was somewhat sobering. Suffice to say, upon re-appraisal, I’d suggest that the first three years of Flaming Pablum are the very antithesis of crucial reading. You may beg to differ, but if so you are being strenuously charitable. I don’t think I really found my stride — much less my footing — until 2008 at the earliest.
ANYway, I found what I was looking for, that being “Ear to the Ground” by percussive performer David Van Tieghem. Obviously, the original film was meant to showcase the inventive rhythmatist’s music, but I was originally struck more by the film’s capturing of the endearingly desolate and somewhat ramshackle environs of the SoHo, TriBeCa and Chinatown of the early 80’s. I also really dug that Killing Joke made a cameo (in the form of a poster on a Broadway wall at around 00:49 into the clip). Here it is again….
As it turns out, Van Tieghem made a sequel to “Ear to the Ground” in 1987 and titled it “Ear-Responsible.” Once again, the streets of New York City act as his drum kit. Here `tis….
If you go David Van Tieghem’s own site, meanwhile, you can see a wider array of his work on video, including this Japanese ad for Sony cassettes. Take a look at that…
Here’s where I get incredibly minutia-laden. In watching the above clip, my heart skipped a beat when I spotted the GODDAMN STENCIL I wasted lots of bandwidth moaning about back in 2013 (see below, just to the lower left of Van Tieghem). I finally found a reproduction of it here.
To be honest, I’m not sure how long the No-Tell Motel was in existence. I believe I first darkened its doors at some point in the early 90’s after attending a show just up the block at Brownie’s (which is now called HI-Fi).
It’s seems slightly laborious to point this out now, but at the time, this stretch of the East Village wasn’t quite the insufferable strip of fratty douchebaggery that it is today. That said, I’m sure long-time residents of Avenue A might have been equally annoyed by No-Tell Motel and Brownie’s patrons as they currently are by patrons of Diablo (what the No-Tell space is today) and Hi-Fi. I mean, loud drunks are loud drunks, regardless of their sartorial flair, sensibility and taste in music.
Yep, the No-Tell Motel dates back to the East Village’s dying-embers-days as an arguably more bohemian neighborhood (although Avenue A in the early 90’s was already a much safer and accessible place then it had been but a decade earlier). As such, much like the afore-cited Korova Milk Bar, the No-Tell Motel initially catered to the same indie and “alt.rock” set that would have crammed into Brownie’s. Though a distant cry from the lawless badlands era of A7, there was still a whiff of that punky vibe.
Said vibe might also explain why — in 1994 — the publicity department of Zoo records (a then-subsidiary of BMG) figured it would be the ideal venue wherein to conduct a set of interviews for the local “rock press” (of which I was a tenuous member at the time) with storied British post-punk stalwarts Killing Joke.
By 1994, I was gradually distancing myself from full-time “rock journalism,” but still kept my hand in for certain projects. Obviously, with Killing Joke being (and remaining) my all-time favorites, I leapt at the chance to interview them.
So, one appointed afternoon, I sped down to Avenue A with my trusty, hand-held tape recorder and into the No-Tell Motel, which was an odd place to visit during daylight hours.
At the time, the ranks of Killing Joke were filled by perennial mainstay and inimitable taskmaster Jaz Coleman, his effortlessly cool and regally bequiffed foil, guitarist Geordie Walker and prodigal bassist-turned-hotly-touted-produer Martin “Youth” Glover, back in the fold after over a decade away. After some rudimentary pleasantries with the publicist, I was sat with Youth, who was perched against the bar’s front window, sifting happily through a container of aromatic Indian grub.
To the layperson, the specifics of this interview probably aren’t of that much interest. Suffice to say, this was around the era of the release of Killing Joke’s excellent Pandemonium. Youth, easily the chattiest and most accessible of the trio, was characteristically affable, thoughtful and quite possibly very stoned. Geordie was intimidatingly cool and somewhat distracted by the No-Tell Motel’s video monitor over the bar, which was showing endless loops of vintage porn (“Oooh, she’s got a nice one!”). At some point in the course of my chat with Geordie, he started physically examining my tape-recorder. This is something worth remembering.
Frontman Jaz Coleman was late to proceedings, but entered the No-Tell Motel towards the end of my exchange with Geordie, cutting a strikingly odd figure in all denim. For my chat with Jaz, we were escorted to the back room.
Even if I hadn’t been the slavishly fawning fanboy that I was, Jaz is a formidable interview subject. Invariably sensing my nervousness, the singer swiftly assumed the reins of the discussion in suitably magisterial fashion and proceeded to wax rhapsodic about…well….pretty much whatever was on his mind.
When I look back at this incident now, I’m quite amazed that I managed to summon the sheer foolhardiness to do it, but at one point when Jaz paused in his sweeping narrative, I butted in with a question. “To some of your critics,” I began, “ it seems that you must be sort of a ‘Boy Who Cried Wolf’ figure, being that you’ve been predicting an apocalypse for some time now that patently refuses to occur…..” I could hear these words leaving my mouth as I watched Jaz Coleman’s already-piercing eyes bug out wide. I began to stammer as I saw all the humor drain from his face. I immediately started backpedalling furiously. For a few tense moments there, I started genuinely fearing for some sort of reprisal, but after some uncomfortable moments of deeply incredulous bluster, Jaz calmed back down and we finished up our interview.
I thanked one and all and ducked out of the No-Tell Motel, having just met, chatted with and — fleetingly — insulted my heroes.
Upon arriving home, I discovered that Geordie had slyly rewound the tape recorder after our chat — effectively erasing all of my exchange with him and Youth. The moral of this story: Never let go of your tape recorders, kids.
Anyway, I can’t help but think of that afternoon whenever I walk down that particular plot of Avenue A.
I’m not certain when it shut its doors, but the No-Tell Motel is long gone in 2015, replaced, as I said, by what is now Diablo (although I think it might have been something else in between, at some point).
After I posted that photo of Hank O’Neal’s last week, a reader name Steve T. wrote to me, and attached the photo of the No-Tell Motel’s business card below. “Sleazy Fun for Everyone” indeed….
Lastly, I tried to find more images, but came up largely short. That said, I did find this tiny shot of the back room from an ancient copy of New York Magazine. This is the room I played with fire talking with Jaz Coleman in, although I don’t remember it being this well lit.
Named somewhat laboriously after the favorite hang-out of Alex and his merry gang of Droogs in “A Clockwork Orange,” the Korova Milk Bar wasn’t in operation for that long. While the cinematic theme may have indeed appealed to self-styled punky nogoodnicks keen on living out some sort of dystopian fantasy, the actual execution of said theme was both heavy-handed and, sorry, a bit schlocky.
I mean, yes….I get it. I am a devout fan of both Burgess’ book and Kubrick’s film, but there was something so tired, so obvious, so cloyingly contrived and not-quite-clever-enough about this iteration of the Korova Milk Bar (as I’m dead certain there are droves of others copping the same concept) that it never really gelled. The place closed up shop in 2006. I doubt too many tears were shed.
In any case, the thing that struck me about this wasn’t so much the idea of a Korova Milk Bar fridge magnet, but rather the copy they bookended it with. The full pitch reads as follows:
Korova Milk Bar East Village Magnet Circa 2001 No Tell Motel Alcatraz CBGB King Tuts Wah Wah Hut The Bank The Pyramid Lower East Side Alphabet City Limelight
Alright, fair enough — the Korova Milk Bar was indeed sort of a contemporary element to places like the No Tell Motel (just across the way …. more about that place soon) and maybe Alcatraz on St. Mark’s Place (although I want to say that Alcatraz closed well prior to Korova Milk Bar’s opening), but to cite CBGB, King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, The Bank, The Pyramid and the Limelight in the same breath as the Korova Milk Bar seems a bit disingenuous.
Sure, it was yet another downtown watering hole, but Korova Milk Bar didn’t have a fraction of the character or impact of those other places. That probably sounds a bit precious, but it’s a bit like equating Avril Lavigne with Foetus or Richard Hell, as far as I’m concerned.
That all said, I suppose I shouldn’t be too harsh and damning about the Korova Milk Bar. As much of a wananbe as it may have been, it wasn’t a third as annoying as Superdive, the hotly contest bar the space would soon become after Korova’s closing.
Ever since watching the new Nick Cave documentary-of-sorts, “20,000 Days on Earth,” I’ve been on a bit of a Birthday Party/Bad Seeds kick. I’ve always been a fan, but dropped off somewhere around No More Shall We Part, only to plug back in again circa the first Grinderman e.p. (and then only to be left uninspired by his most recent work, Push The Sky Away, which I should probably re-visit).
In any case, in exhuming some of my favorite bits of Cave’s quite substantial catalog, I found myself perusing a Birthday Party gig history on this archive site and was struck by something curious.
During their maiden voyage to New York City, the ferocious Birthday Party evidently played a few gigs around town, notably at an "upmarket rock disco" called The Underground in Union Square, a couple of abortive gigs at the Ritz on East 11th Street, a night at the West 45th street incarnation of The Peppermint Lounge and — most curiously — two dates at a venue I have no recollection of called The Chase Park Lounge.
I immediately did a bit of googling, but frankly came up with absolutely nothing. The only links that came up were links back to various other Birthday Party gig accounts.
Here, meanwhile, is a review of one of the gigs at this mysterious venue by a churlish 16-year-old named Larry. Click on it to enlarge and read...
Okay, so I’m entirely stumped. I realize that live music venues in New York City come and go like sands in the hour glass, but I feel there must be some other evidence of this place’s existence.
Anyone remember The Chase Park Lounge? Weigh in.
Here, meanwhile, is the Birthday Party in their prime….
Lastly, this seems like a good point to brag that NICK CAVE LOVES ME!!!