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.
Loyal readers might remember me waxing rhapsodic here a fewtimes about the fabled Blitz Benefit at CBGB in 1978. I didn’t attend the Blitz Benefit, mind you, as I was all of eleven years old at the time, but being a student of NYC rock lore, its significance isn’t lost on me (beyond my blather, you can read a more official account here, although Legs McNeil & Gillian McCain’s oral history, “Please Kill Me” probably handles it best). It’s the stuff of legend.
Well, scratch that. Via the churlishly named Altamont Records (“Hard to Find Rare T-shirts and Collectibles”), you can now buy yourself a Blitz Benefit t-shirt knockoff (albeit not in its original black, for some reason). No, I’m not buying one for myself. You can even buy a Blitz Benefit baby onesie.
You know you're old school -- and not in a cool way -- when relative squirts like Chloe Sevigny (pictured at right in the fetching Siouxsie t-shirt) start moaning about how the East Village is a sad shadow of its former self.
I've waxed vitriolic about Miss Sevigny here before, although in retrospect, I'm not exactly sure why. I mean, no, she's not really a great actress, but all I've ever seen her in was "Kids" and "The Last Days of Disco." While both those films were fairly undercooked for a variety of reasons, I gather she's gone on to more accomplished work in recent years. I haven't seen any of that, so I shouldn't really judge her there.
Sevigny's championing of the noxious Beatrice Inn in the West Village a few years back certainly didn't endear her to me, but I understand that she was just being supportive to her brother, who was a stakeholder there at the time. Furthermore, I've heard her interviewed about music on occasion, and she seems to know her stuff in that department. I'm sure she could hold her own in any annoying debate about tune-minutia that idiots like myself are prone to get into.
Anyway, Chloe recently chatted with The Daily Beast and joined the ranks of folks like myself, EV Grieve and Jeremiah Moss in the decrying of changes downtown. While there's still the wafting aroma of insufferable hipness about her (or ... wait ... maybe that's just my own blinkered projection and thinly-veiled hostility towards people who are younger than me), she seems like a perfectly reasonable lady.
That all said, I do wish she's stop saying "hating on." One doesn't hate on anything, one just HATES. There is no surface required for the verb to be put into action. One doesn't hate on or under or over or adjacent to to. One just HATES! Let's drop that silly, stupid shit, shall we?
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.
Back in high school, I had a classmate -- let's call him Willie -- who prided himself on being the consummate Manhattan club-hopper, prone to frequently extolling the merits of places like Studio 54 (or -- as he preferred to call it -- simply "Studio"), Area, Xenon and a host of other quasi-obscure locales. At the time, I'm not entirely sure we all took him that seriously, as he seemed like just another high school schnook like rest of us.
As it turned out, however, our man Willie was genuinely pretty connected in New York City's club scene. Maybe he had a hip uncle or was simply preternaturally suave enough to have the confident cache to enter New York City's fabled 80's nightlife at such a comparatively young age. Either way, when I started fraternizing with music folks, deejays and club folks much later on in my life (after graduating college and becoming an ersatz "music journalist"), it was surprising how many of these people actually knew Willie and confirmed that he was indeed a regular fixture on the club circuit. Go know!
I doubt I'll ever know the full backstory of how Willie was able to rub elbows with the scenesters and glitterati at such a young age (when his classmates were still hanging out in video arcades and listening to Motley Crue), but since his status was confirmed all those years back, I've paid more attention to what he's had to say on the subject of New York City's vanished nightlife.
This morning, Willie put up a link on a his Facebook page to a site called Do You Remember Tees. Here's how they describe themselves:
DoYouRemember Tees (DYRT) takes the best gone but not forgotten clubs & bars, restaurants, casinos, dotcoms, gay venues and retailers, that ever existed and prints them on 100% cotton tees. Relive your memorable days and nights with our exclusive series of DoYouRemember tees. Each shirt features the logo from a famous but now vanished club, bar, restaurant, casino, dotcom or retailer that retains a vivid place in your memory. From New York to Miami to Los Angeles to Las Vegas, these legendary hotspots live again on our luxurious cotton tees.
As Willie rightly postulated, one wonders how this site managed to get the permission to reproduce the logos of storied clubs like The Ritz, The Mudd Club and the Roxy, to say nothing of comparatively super-esoteric ones like Big City Diner and Cave Canem. Take a look and the link -- there's a dizzying selection of since-vanished places.
Personally speaking, I'm not sure how I feel about this venture. I mean, I love the notion of preserving and celebrating these places, but it kind of gets back to the whole notion of whether you should be wearing the t-shirt of a place you never actually went to. I mean, here in 2013, as much as I cherish my own memories of, for example, seeing bands at The Ritz, sporting a crisp, brand new t-shirt with the Ritz's old logo on it seems a bit disingenuous. Beyond that, I don't think many of the places ever sold t-shirts to begin with, but that's a pedantic quibble at the end of the day.
Hey all. It's been a bit crazed on the home front of late, so to bide your time until I have the opportunity to compose something slightly more substantial, here are a few items that caught my attention. Maybe they'll catch yours.
Here's a recent interview with the great Tom Verlaine, rife with awkward pauses and withering condescension. Actually, it's not that bad. I see Verlaine in my neighborhood fairly regularly, whether having a slice at Stromboli's, ordering a cup of coffee at the News Bar or browsing for books at The Strand. I used to say "hello" to him. I stopped doing that, as he's capable of being disarmingly brusque. Then again, if you had geeky, middle-aged punk fanboys accosting you all day, you'd probably be sneery and unfriendly too. That's Tom up above, by the way. Not sure of the date, but he's the barefoot gent on the left, walking arm-in-arm with Patti Smith.
This bit of news has got my Facebook feed all aflutter, so I figured I should share it here. Also, being that that I spend an inordinate amount of time here on Flaming Pablum discussing record stores that are vanished or closing, it’s actually nice to be discussing a New York City record shop that is opening.
That’s right, the long-awaited Rough Trade shop in Brooklyn (which I fleetingly alluded to here) has finally got an opening date slated. Like the veritable Chinese Democracy of record shops (I wish I could take full credit for that analogy, but I forgot where I first read it), the fabled British record store will open its first U.S. flagship store (I believe) in the hipster Mecca of Williamsburg.
Am I beside myself? Well, not exactly. Selfishly, I’d much rather see the place open here in Manhattan, but I guess they’ve got to go where the demand is (and where they can afford the rent).
Further selfishly, the opening of Brooklyn’s Rough Trade shop also means that I’ll no longer feel even remotely special for owning a cherished Rough Trade t-shirt that I procured in London at an actual Rough Trade shop off Portobelo Road in Notting Hill. Ah well.
But will I shop there? I’ll certainly go and check it out!
Because I have a long history of getting all riled up about such things, my colleague Drew sent me a link to this Brooklyn Vegan article from earlier today (which originally stems from this Gawker piece). In a nutshell, it looks as though cloyingly irritating designer/West Village neighborhood-destroyer Marc Jacobs has appropriated an old logo from the UK oi band Skrewdriver and is selling it as a $70 t-shirt.
Now, usually any time a bit of ephemera from a rock subculture is repurposed by a commercial venture or some fatuous Hollywood fashionista, I predictably light up like an apoplectic pinball machine and start spouting obscenities and declaring war. In this instance, however, I really don’t have a stake. I mean, put simply, I hate Marc Jacobs and Skrewdriver equally.
If you're not familiar with Skrewdriver's oeuvre, suffice to say they're a strenuously shouty gaggle of uber-conservative neo-nazis, responsible for such tuneful ditties as "Shove the Dove," "I Don't Like You" and -- wait for it -- "White Power." The Bay City Rollers they are not.
Of course, if I’m being kind, I could assume that Jacobs – who is Jewish and Gay, two things the not-particularly-enlightened members of Skrewdriver assuredly frown upon -– is making some sort of statement. By usurping a symbol held sacred by slackjawed bigots and making it your own arguably dismantles that particular symbol’s power.
But, honestly, did Marc Jacobs devote that much time to this? Or did he just think it was a cool image and not delve deeper into its meaning?
Since the beginning of July, there have been a few developments on the rock t-shirt front (a strenuously silly subject I devoted an entire category to here) that I have been reticent to address (beyond my jokey/inflammatory post about Adam Duritz's many crimes in that capacity). As has been cited many times, I take the sporting of band-endorsing t-shirts entirely too seriously. Lots of folks agree with me, sure, but lots of folks also think I'm a complete idiot as a result. The fact that I'm a 45-year-old with a closet full of increasingly ill-fitting band t-shirts doesn't really help.
But I’m repeatedly scolded in various circles about this for being a juvenile jerk and/or an elitist and/or a sad old rock-dork and/or a misogynist and/or a precious music snob and a host of other colorful names. As a result, I've been tempering my usual vitriol on the subject in the wake of a few events (see below) as best I can. It's ultimately not worth it. My opinions are entirely too predictable and they're not going to change anything. Sniveling little teenage shits and vacuous celebs whose lives were very probably not deeply affected by the music in question are going to continue to don these garments. It's just going to happen, and the planet will continue to rotate.
By this point, I don't need to pen a multi-paragraph screed about the sanctity of the Black Flag bars or how the then-derided hardcore punk community acted as a palpable antidote to the tyranny of the popular, sporty and beautiful when I was in high school. I don't need to point out that while, yes -- these are essentially just silly t-shirts that have band names and silly insignia emblazoned on them, -- what they say represents a great deal more to certain people than others.
More to the point, however, there’s been a story making the rounds over the past couple of days that took the collective wind out of the sails of those of us who may seem unduly precious about band t-shirts. In a nutshell, Ian MacKaye of Minor Threat/Fugazi fame (above, photographed by Pat Graham) signed off on a t-shirt deal with Urban Outfitters. Ian’s not alone, of course. My heroes in DEVO did much the same thing not too long back. Regarding Ian's take on the matter, click here to read the whole story.
I think what I find so surprising and objectionable about this particular instance is that Ian MacKaye pretty much set the template about getting involved with every aspect of his art and how it was presented and disseminated. Why doesn’t Discord Records make t-shirts? Strikes me that it would be a great source of revenue for the label. Given Urban Outfitters' track record of controversy and its CEO's' right-wing-leaning views, I find it kind of astonishing that Ian wouldd be okay with essentially climbing into bed with the very thing he formerly opposed in all its forms .
Look, I'll be the first to admit that I have a lot of hang-ups about rock t-shirts, notably that I'm of the considered opinion that unless you're a genuine fan of the band in question, YOU SHOULDN'T BE WEARING THEIR GODDAMN SHIRT. This may or may not be one of those instances.
I should point out at this stage of the proceedings that I've never met Adam Duritz. I don't know him. We've never exchanged words. For all I know, despite suspicions based on his tonsorial choices and personal opinions about the music of Counting Crows, Adam Duritz may be an intelligent, thoughtful and generous individual with a deep propensity for kindness towards his fellow man. He also might have a great sense of humor.
Furthermore, for all I know, Adam Duritz may very well be a tremendous fan of all the bands he's emblazoning on his chest below, but that's not the point.
Based on the fact that is own music is SO FLATLY INDEFENSIBLE, I reallly, really want him to stop wearing t-shirts of artists I admire.
I don't care if he could earnestly croon a faithful-to-the-last-detail a cappela replication of Night of the Living Dead Boys, he needs to STOP WEARING THEIR DAMN T-SHIRT!!!