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.
Five years after first noticing and mentioning it on this post, and literally decades after the shop in question shut its doors, West 8th Street's It's Only Rock 'N' Roll (which I also wrote about here) is still getting a sartorial shout-out by Metallica's Lars Ulrich, as I noted on Instagram...
Some of you might remember a post I put up here a few weeks back about since-closed venue called The Building (or simply Building). Apparently, it was largely considered a hip-hop club, but I remember attending some industrial-themed events there. As such, a poster named Alan T. recently unearthed an anecdote about the place on Facebook…
I did sound for Peter Missing of MISSING FOUNDATION there, and it wasn't going over with the glittering industry crowd or whatever. The owner/partner nearest to me said "Cut the mic!!" right in the middle of the show and I refused. Homes don't play that. So the dude reached over my mixer and cut the sound, cut off the show. Missing came up later and yelled "I will destroy you!!"because he thought I cut his mic. I loved him for that, ever since. Within a couple years the place was completely bulldozed, literally made into a parking lot...
Speaking of all things Missing Foundation, while Peter Missing has never not been up to something new, I’ve been hearing rumors of there being some re-releases of older MF albums going on (but have found nothing substantive online to support the notion). I know there’s a new project out by Missing 7 Hazard (Peter’s latest endeavor) featuring compelling song titles like “Frack in Your Pants,” “Missing Invasion” and “I Love New York” (I’m guessing it’s not a cover). Find out more about that here.
The instantly familiar Missing Foundation insignia, however, is now newly appearing not just around the facades of the East Village again, but currently in a more surprising place -– on a new selection of prints and t-shirts marketed by a company called ALIFE. Billing themselves as a “is New York-based, multi-tasking, multi-faceted lifestyle driven company,” ALIFE is partnering with Peter Missing for a selection of original prints (of the MF cocktail glass, see above as captured by newco.nyc) and some fetching t-shirts. Should you be interested, click here.
Here, meanwhile, is some vintage Missing Foundation.
I turn 49 years old today. It’s an odd number. I’m reminded of the malaise I felt at both 29 and, to a lesser extent, 39 … that nagging feeling I need to go out and make the most of the last year of this particular group of ten. By the same token, I’m not sure what that entails. I mean, prior to turning 40, maybe the cliché is to go out and buy a fast car or get a tattoo or something. What’s the equivalent when you’re standing on the precipice of your fifties? Should I go out and buy a bunch of golf clubs or something? How are men in their fifties I supposed to act?
By this point, I should probably update or simply dismantle it, but on the About page of this blog –- composed in the balmy days of 2005 –- I make the fleeting declaration that I had every intention of wearing “silly band t-shirts” well into my forties. Well, mission accomplished. But now that I’m perilously close to a half-century old, I still have an unwieldy collection of same (click here if you honestly give a damn about them). Is it unseemly to continue this practice? Should I care? I probably should, but I don’t. That said, I did notice a particular shirt that I already own hanging in the window of Metropolis on Third Avenue this morning. If you’re unfamiliar, the shop in questions sells “vintage” duds at prices I, personally, consider exorbitant. Ten years ago, the notion of parting with one of my cherished rock shirts for cash would have been unheard of. Now? Well, depends how much they’d offer.
How old were you? 39 Where did you go to school? I was well, well out of school by that point. Where did you work? I would have been ten months into my tenure as Managing Editor at MTV News Online. Where did you live? East 9th Street in Manhattan Where did you hang out? By that point, we had an infant and a toddler to take care of, so you were probably likely to find me at playgrounds and baby supply outlets. How was your hair style?A graying version of what I charitably described as a “retarded pompadour.” Who were your best friends? My best friends, by and large, don’t really change, although I sadly see less of them. Did you wear glasses?No Who was your regular-person crush? The wife. How many tattoos did you have?Zero. How many piercings did you have?Zero. What car did you drive? Didn’t, although I had finally attained a license. What was your worst fear?Unemployment, not being able to provide for my family. Had you been arrested? No. Had your heart been broken? Much earlier, but all was bliss at the time Single/Taken/Married/Divorced/Bitter?Very happily married.
******** October 13, 2016
How old are you?49 Where do you work?At a place that is not MTV New Online. That was already three jobs ago. Where do you live?Same apartment on East 9th Street, but we have outgrown it and will probably move before the end of next year. Where do you hang out?No longer at playgrounds and baby supply places. My kids and I routinely explore all corners of the city. Most of my favorite record stores are gone, and I’m rarely let off my leash to visit the bars of my youth. Do you wear glasses?I now have to wear readers, yes. What is your hairstyle?Pretty much the same as ten years ago, although I’m now pretty much all silver. Who are your best friends?Again, they remain the same people, but I do not get to see them as often as I’d like. Still talk to any of your old friends?There are friends I’ve fallen out of touch with, but thankfully none that I can think of that I’m actively “not talking to.” There are some former colleagues I'm disinclined to chat with, but I'd like to think if I ran into them, we'd be adults about it. How many piercings do you have?None. How many tattoos?None. What kind of car do you have?Still don’t. What is your biggest fear? Unemployment for me or something happening to my family. Have you been arrested since, if so, how many times times total?Never, although I did scrape my mom’s car against a cop car (by accident) and got a speeding ticket in Upstate New York (where I was *NOT* speeding). Has your heart been broken?My heart has indeed been broken over the last ten years, but not over anything to do with failed romance. My heart has been broken by instances of death and illness in my family and periodic job loss for me. Single/Taken/Married/Divorced/Bitter? Still very happily married.
Earlier this decade, when I was working as an editor for the website of the TODAY Show, I was occasionally afforded the opportunity to write for an ultimately short-lived fashion blog there called The Look. Don’t bother looking for it now, as they seem to have dismantled all the blogs by this point. But being that I sat next to the style editor and had some, suffice it to say, pointed opinions about rock t-shirt etiquette, I was periodically assigned short pieces that spoke to my wafer-thin areas of style expertise. While I never felt entirely comfortable writing about such things, it was still an amusing exercise.
In any case, I spotted an item recently amidst the wilds of the 'net that, were The Look still a going concern (let alone were I still toiling thanklessly at TODAY), I would summarily pitch. But, it isn’t and I’m not, and that’s probably all for the best, anyway. Good luck to them in their endeavors.
Regardless, I still feel compelled to write about this, so here goes…
By the point, as much as it frequently makes me frown, the fashion industry has inexorably entwined itself with all things rock. I mean, the culture of rock music — in all its permutations — has always had a visual, tonsorial and sartorial element, but I’m talking about the fashion industry endeavoring to adopt same for its own purposes. Frequently, this comes out in embarrassing, ass-backwards ways, like, say, TopShop attempting to sell $700 leather jackets emblazoned with the logos of various punk bands. As cited in my long-standing complaint with John Varvatos, too often it seems that fashion folks are too caught up in the idiocy of their own skewed little realm and ultimately just don’t get it. But, y’know, whatever.
This isn’t to say, however, that folks in the style world get it exclusively wrong either. While I’m not 100% sold on the odd merger of music and clothing of this kind, I was struck by a new line of admittedly fetching plaid shirts by a company called JCRT. Calling themselves “The Lumberjacks of Fashion,” JCRT is basically a duo of two avowed hipsters who are somewhat dubiously credited as being a large part of “the Brooklyn Movement.” That wince-inducing boast notwithstanding, the gents recently unveiled a new line of plaid shirts (or, simply, “plaids”) that were inspired by their favorite albums.
Umm, wait ….what?
Yep, you read that right. Plaid shirts inspired by specific music.
As incongruous as that might sound, the end results are actually kinda nice. Being fans of seemingly very specific Anglophilic, post-punk, alternative and indie music of the 1980s, their designs come tastefully adorned in the color schemes that graced albums like Meat is Murder by the Smiths, Disintegration by The Cure, The Kick Inside by Kate Bush, The Age of Consent by Bronski Beat and a few others. And whether you’re a fan of the music in question or not, the shirts are genuinely quite nice.
Those looking for more musical inspiration from a wider palette might be disappointed, as — at this stage — their selections are pretty genre-specific (i.e. no Reign in Blood by Slayer plaid just yet). While, personally, I’m waiting for a Killing Joke shirt (maybe rife with the blues, purples, oranges and blacks of Nighttime, gentlemen?), I do like this one….
I mean, seriously, even if you think Joy Division are slavishly overwrought, you have to admit that this is a nice goddamn shirt. My only grievance with it, of course, is that the album in question — that being Substance from 1988 — is a goddamn compilation. As the Kids in the Hall once sagely asserted, “greatest hit albums are for housewives and little girls.”
That quibble — and the garment’s somewhat weighty price tag — aside, I’ll concede that this is kind of a fun idea. If you care, find out more here.
About 7 years ago, I wrote a surprisingly contentious little piece here about people buying CBGB shirts that weren’t actually procured at the venue in question (which, by that point, had already been closed for a few years, gutted and turned into John Varvatos' bespoke haberdashery of ludicrous revisionism). Honestly speaking, I ultimately don’t see anything wrong with folks buying CBGB shirts despite not having purchased them there. By this stage of the proceedings, the iconography of CBGB is shorthand for a whole swathe of popular culture. And as much as I’m easily riled by folks wearing band t-shirts who aren’t actually fans (let alone familiar) with the bands they’re espousing, CBGB could conceivably mean different things to different people. Sure, the Dead Boys and the Cro-Mags played there, but so did Binky Philips and Phoebe Legere. Its name may specifically connote “punk” and “underground,” but — as a venue — it played host to a deceptively wide array of artists (in the same way that Wetlands Preserve in TriBeCa didn’t just play host to hippie jam bands). It’s not simply ‘one thing’ (i.e. like a band t-shirt). In any case, the bands, the music, the culture and that sensibility spawned by the place arguably continue — for better or worse — to inform popular culture. As such, why not celebrate the place with a t-shirt … even if you never got to go?
Shocking as it may sound, that part doesn’t bother me. No, what bothers me is bullshit like this.
I’ve already gone on record a few times about my disdain for John Varvatos’ exclusive appropriation of CBGB’s legacy (most specifically here). When the venue was forced to close after a heated dispute with the building’s owner, Varvatos seized the opportunity to open up shop in the club’s footprint. But his attempts to pay homage to his boutique’s former occupant is brazenly undermined and rendered entirely moot by the fatuously overstated avarice of his operation. CBGB had never been about glitz and glamor. As a former skid row biker bar on the Bowery, it blossomed into a hotbed of creative opportunity because it wasn’t exclusive. It may have later cultivated its own brand of elitism (and you’d be fooling yourselves to think otherwise), but it was assuredly never fancy. The folks who came to lose teeth at the hardcore matinees, get unsolicitedly slapped by James Chance, berated by Lydia Lunch or pants-soakingly deafened at SWANS gigs didn’t always feel a need to dress to the nines. Maybe they did at certain other venues, but CBGB just wasn’t that place.
Here’s the thing, though. Whether you’re a preciously pedantic punk-rock-purist or you’re just a schlub who thinks a CBGB shirt would look cool, THERE IS NO REASON ON THIS EARTH OR ANY OTHER TO PAY $100.00 FOR IT.
In all seriousness, if you spend $100 on a t-shirt, you’re a complete idiot — regardless of what’s on it.
Don’t even get me started on the accompanying text…
If there's one thing the John Varvatos brand is known for, it's rocking out. We're keeping this theme alive and well with our newest set of rock-inspired tees. Wear them with Converse to see your favorite band, or pair them with a blazer and dark-wash jeans for a JV-approved office look.
I mean, sweet jeezy creezy, … where does one even begin?
Listen, if you really want a CBGB shirt, you can invariably skip down to your local shopping mall or visit one of literally thousands of places online and get yourself one. But if you spend more than twenty bucks on it — unless, of course, the garment in question happened to be fashioned out of the Shroud of Turin — you’re getting fucking ripped off. Hell even twenty bucks is pretty steep, when ya think about it.
This is invariably going to lose me points with my rightier-tightier friends, but as much as a fervent appreciation for the music of Black Sabbath is IN MY VERY BLOOD, I’m afraid I’m just not down with this shirt.
Listen, I’m well aware that a sense of humor is critically essential to maintaining both one’s perspective and one’s fucking sanity in this current socio-political climate, and I’m often the first to dole out an inappropriate quip at the most inopportune of moments, but here’s the thing: Making a little not-even-that-clever joke about #BlackLivesMatter is basically akin to making light of, belittling and ultimately discrediting a movement that is really nothing at all to laugh at.
Equating your own appreciation for a band –- and this is coming from dude perilously close to 50 who still gets in heated debates about rock trivia -– to an activist movement against systemic violence and discrimination isn’t funny, isn’t cute, isn’t ironic, and ultimately really isn’t smart. You're only making yourself (and, by proxy, the estimable Black Sabbath) look entirely ridiculous.
If you want to accuse me of being overtly “politically correct” about this, go right ahead. As I’ve said before, being “politically correct” is only shorthand for being inclusive, considerate, and cognizant of our respective cultural differences. It’s something proper, sentient adults are.
If you wear this shirt and get punched in the face, please don’t be mystified.
I’ve posted about –- let alone alluded to –- both CBGB and Cop Shoot Cop entirely too many times here (see unwieldy list of links to same below). So many other notable NYC landmarks of cultural significance have also vanished since CBGB’s demise, that it seems somewhat needless (and bit clichéd) to keep invoking it. Likewise, apart from a fleeting reunion-of-sorts back in January (minus Tod [A], who currently resides over in Turkey) at an event celebrating Martin Bisi’s Gowanus stronghold, BC Studios, Cop Shoot Cop haven’t been a functioning band since the comparatively carefree, balmy days of 1996. But still … here we are again.
On the CBGB front, as I’ve mentioned laboriously before, lots of folks immediately associate the venue with the storied inaugural class of Punk Rock; Television, the Ramones, Richard Hell & the Voidoids, Patti Smith, Talking Heads, Blondie, the Dead Boys, etc. Some others might lump CBGB in with the No Wave gang; Lydia Lunch, James Chance, Arto Lindsay et al. Further still, a latter generation invariably equates CBGB with all things hardcore and NYHC; Kraut, Bad Brains, Agnostic Front, Murphy’s Law, Cro-Mags, etc.
All three of those eras are rightly celebrated, but – somewhat obviously – there was so much more to the story than simply those respective scenes. Personally speaking, I’m still waiting for an authoritative tome or oral history that addresses some of the less-celebrated alumni of CBGB.
Cop Shoot Cop was one of those bands. Informed by all three of the afore-cited eras, Cop Shoot Cop utilized the arty clamor and disdainful attitude of Punk and No Wave, smeared with a no-bullshit approach honed in hardcore (‘low-end’ bassist Jack Natz served time in the ranks of proto-hardcore bands like the Undead and Virus). But C$C ditched most of the latter sub-genre’s somewhat provincial parameters and tribal signifiers in favor of incorporating elements of so-called industrial music (along with the initial gimmick of eschewing guitars in favor of a dual-bass attack). But more akin to industrial’s originators like Einsturzende Neubauten, Test Department and Throbbing Gristle than to the then-percolating Wax Trax mob, C$C’s strain of industrial was more utilitarian, completely jettisoning the chirpy synths, danceable rhythms and spooky sci-fi theatrics of bands like Ministry, Skinny Puppy and Nine Inch Nails in favor their own, NYC-hewn aesthetic. Sure, Cop Shoot Cop may have counted samplers and percussive metal implements in their arsenal, but they played them like punks. It wasn’t much of a fashion show.
By the same token, a direct line can certainly be drawn to Cop Shoot Cop from No Wave-inspired forebears like SWANS and Foetus, artists who’d periodically borrow and/or poach members from C$C. Those two names were palpable influences on Cop Shoot Cop’s sound and aesthetic, and that doesn’t even begin to touch on their similarly inclined peers like Pussy Galore, Helmet, Surgery and even outfits like Prong and Missing Foundation.
But parsing Cop Shoot Cop’s music as some sort of intricate composite is to miss the point. The end results sounded like precious little else; a clanging, chugging machine of whirring pistons and grinding gears, punctuated by grimly poetic one-liners steeped in black-humored snark. If you came lookin’ for good-time party anthems, you weren’t gonna get’em from Cop Shoot Cop, unless your idea of a party involves invocations of urban squalor, moral decay and insurrection.
Anyway, the only reason I’m bringing any of this back up is because I recently walked by 315 Bowery earlier this week (after I’d spotted the Mars Bar light fixture alluded to here). Purely out of curiosity, I ducked my head in --- vainly hoping to have some of my embittered preconceptions upended. `Twas not to be, however. The John Varvatos boutique that occupies CBGB’s former address pretty much embodies everything all the bands I cited above sought to destroy. But hey, if you want to go pay literally hundreds of dollars for a fashionably pre-distressed Ramones t-shirt, go treat yourself.
The video at the bottom of this post is the entirety of an official bootleg released by Supernatural Organization (who also released the band’s brilliant Headkick Facsimile), capturing the nascent four-person line-up of Cop Shoot Cop onstage at CBGB in July of 1989. This particular recording, to my mind, really finds the band at their strongest, ripping through deliberately difficult tracks from Headkick Facsimile, the “Piece, Man” e.p., the then-still-to-be-released Consumer Revolt and even a dark little ditty called “Dachau Hilton” that would never see the light of day on any other release.
Contrasting the feral hurky-jerk sturm und drang of their music, Tod [A] and Co. come across as a gaggle of wiseacres, lobbing between-song quips from the stage – when not complaining about the venue’s fabled sound system -– belying their frowny reputation.
The photos of the band around this post, meanwhile, were shot by noted photographer Butch Belair, and find the same line-up of the band just a couple of years after the below recording. These photographs were actually for an unlikely spread in a strenuously incongruous, glossy periodical called In-Fashion. Through an association with The New York Review of Records (which I detailed just recently here), the editor drafted me to pick a band for a regular feature that portrayed artists "chilling out" on there "home turf." For better or worse, I suggested Cop Shoot Cop. Initially, the band weren't entirely enthused, but we somehow talked them into it.
I penned some riotously overwritten text to accompany Butch's pics that was swiftly (and unsurprisingly, in retrospect) shot down by the twitchy fashionistas at In-Fashion. The resulting piece ended up being largely photo-driven, featuring Butch's great shots of the boys skulking around the East Village and pre-gentrified Williamsburg, finally ending up at CBGB (see shot at the top). We ended up getting a bit of pushback from the band's label for portraying the boys smiling. God forbid.
Anyway, enjoy some vintage Cop Shoot Cop, raising an unholy ruckus on the fabled stage of CBGB in 1989. It’s hard to reconcile that this was recorded in the same room where ludicrously overpriced, bespoke duds are being hawked today.
Remember last week when I said that the usual shit I put up here feels indescribably trivial in the wake of current news events? Well, here’s just such an idiotic and ultimately meaningless post about something stupid and silly that’s really burning my goddamn toast, but what am I gonna do? Stop posting entirely because the world is a horrific place rife with senseless gun violence, racism and injustice? I can’t do that. Consider this, then, a palette-cleanser, should you be looking to distract yourself from the horrors of the day. But make no mistake -– those horrors are real and they matter. This bullshit? It doesn’t really matter, but I’d like to think there’s at least a little more substance to it than playing “Pokemon Go!’
My fellow New Yorkers doubtlessly remember the old Lone Star Café on the corner of East 13th Street and Fifth Avenue. Well, after the Lone Star closed (and the giant lizard up top decamped to a TriBeca pier, later still to decamp to, I believe, Texas, appropriately enough), it became a bar called Mr. Fuji’s Tropicana. I should also note that well prior to it becoming the Lone Star, it was initially built and conceived, I believe, as a Schraft’s Ice Cream parlor. Anyway, after Mr. Fuji’s closed, the space turned into a deli of no great distinction. That waffled on for a few years, then they unsurprisingly closed, and the space became gradually derelict, until it was fully torn down at some point in the last decade. End of story? No, just the preamble.
In any case, in the footprint of that old Lone Star was built a -- WAIT FOR IT -- luxury condo. The ground floor of said condo, however, sat empty for many, many moons until relatively recently, when a women’s wear shop with the somewhat cloying name of Brandy Melville opened up. Great. Whatever.
It being a solely a woman’s clothiers, I never gave it a single thought until I recently noticed that they were selling what I believe to be a somewhat crazy rare item, and one that speaks VERY SPECIFICALLY to a certain demographic, i.e. fuckin’ MINE.
Y’see, Brandy Melville sells band t-shirts. I’m sure I shouldn’t be surprised by this, being that –- as discussed here –- vintage rock t-shirts are the “look of the summer.” Fine. Whatever. That shouldn’t bother me, of course, but it does.
But among the Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, AC/DC and Grateful Dead shirts, I instantly recognized an item that leapt right out at me. They were selling two variations --- white and black – of a Ramones shirt featuring the original artwork for Road to Ruin. That’s the shirt just above, but here’s a close up of the illustration in question.
Okay, now why is this significant, you ask? Well, this particular bit of artwork -- lovingly rendered by one Gus MacDonald –- was scrapped from the eventual release of the 1978 album, primarily because the image featured founding Ramones drummer Tommy behind the kit, when –- by this point -– he’d “left home” (a Ramones in-joke) to be replaced by Marky Ramone, then fresh from the ranks of Richard Hell & the Voidoids and Estus. This dilemma was resolved by having Punk Magazine co-founder and fabled illustrator, John Holmstrom tweak the original image to include Marky and subtract the more fantastical elements of the original design (specifically the snake and otherwise inexplicable crab claw). Holmstrom also gave the final image a bit of credibly punk edge, given that MacDonald’s original vision -– while still very goddamn cool -– looked a bit more like something you’d find on a KISS or Meat Loaf sleeve. Should you be unfamiliar, too young or just plain clueless, here’s Holmstrom’s final version. I have a reverentially framed promo poster of this that now hangs on the wall of my great friend Rob D.
So, anyway, back to Brandy Melville -- WHY ON EARTH are they selling Ramones t-shirts with this comparatively esoteric design on them to –- and let’s be fucking honest here -– a clientele who invariably HAVE NO GODDAMN IDEA about the backstory (much less does it probably care). This isn’t me being sexist or misogynist –- obviously fervent, minutia-crazed Ramones fans come in both genders -– but why sell stuff with specific collector’s appeal at an outlet that a specific Ramones collector, under most circumstances, WILL PROBABLY NEVER VENTURE INTO?
Here’s another thing. I’ve tried to find the same Gus MacDonald design t-shirt elsewhere online, and I cannot seem to do it. Am I to believe that the only place to find this item is the cushy, unlikely confines of a shop designed with -– again, let’s face it -– the Soul Cycle set in mind.