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.
I found myself in Chelsea this afternoon so -- with the aid of a very patient bystander who I handed my camera to -- I was able to replicate the shot. Bob, of course, was correct. It is West 26th Street.
Trying to keep track of changes on 8th Street seems like an exercise in futility, but I couldn't help noticing yesterday that they were clearing stuff out of Burger Creations between Mercer and Greene. Sure enough, despite its jaunty Halloween decorations, Burger Creations looks to be no more.
Can't say it's a great loss, actually. The creations in question left a bit to be desired.
Okay, just a quick silly one. You may remember a post from summer 2013 wherein I posted a couple of vintage pics of Joe Strummer lookin’ cool around NYC in honor of the fallen Clash leader’s birthday. In one of those pics — repurposed above — we saw Joe standing manfully in front of Carmine Street’s long-standing and endearingly stubborn enclave of vinyl purism, House of Oldies. If I had to wager, I'd suggest that said photograph was taken by long-time Clash pal and storied New Yorker, Bob Gruen, but I cannot be sure.
In any case, in a vain attempt at tiring them out, I took my kids out for another epic march around Manhattan yesterday, and as we were sauntering north on Carmine Street, we passed by House of Oldies, which reminded me of the Strummer pic. As such, here’s our tribute (with my little Charlotte looking suitably fatigued of these sorts of shenanigans)....
I've never really liked this song, but I discovered a new appreciation for "Jukebox" by the Flirts when spied its video, featuring some vintage shots of the Village, Carmine Street and ... yes ... the House of Oldies. I spoke about it at greater length here.
First up, let me just state for the record that I am not — nor have I ever been — a fan of Spandau Ballet. Don’t get me wrong — I have absolutely zero problems with foppish new romantic bands, but in those stakes, Duran Duran beats the Spandaus every damn time. That said, my wife remains an ardent supporter.
In any case, via my pal Tim B’s Stupefaction site, I learned there’s a sprawling documentary on Spandau Ballet in the works (or already completed…see trailer below). Spotting the poster image for same — the Spandaus dressed in typically ridiculous garb while blocking traffic on West 33rd Street in the shadow of Madison Square Garden — I felt an irrepressible urge to replicate it. After ducking and weaving through herds of corpulent Scandiewiegian tourists on the High Line this morning, my kids and I found ourselves in the neighborhood, so we gave it a go. Here are the fruits of our labors. I know this much is true.
Here are the details on the flick...
And, honestly, if pressed to name Spandau Ballet's greatest achievement, I'd say this trumps "True"...
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.
On the southwest corner of Wooster and Grand Streets in SoHo, there used to be a parking lot. I know ... big whoop. Well, much like the rest of the neighborhood, said parking lot was formerly a magnet for street art, and frequently boasted eye-poppingly colorful tableaus that could really stop you in your tracks. Back in the 80’s and 90’s, I used to look forward to walking by it, just to see what was new and different.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I don’t spend nearly as much time in SoHo as I used to, largely because everything I loved about the neighborhood has pretty much vanished. While it may have once been a fertile playground for street art, it’s now essentially nothing but a pricey shopping district. In any case, I was walking through it again earlier this week and sadly noticed that the parking lot I was just discussing is no more. As mammoth new condo is being erected in its spot. That broke my heart a little.
Herewith a few shots I took in the late 90s from that little plot.
To see more of my old shots of street art, click here.
Word came down this week that mysterious photographer Jay Maisel's 190 Bowery has been sold. As I said on Facebook, I have long been entirely fascinated by this curious building -- hearing rumors of who lives it, how they live and why they choose to live that way. The building itself is a haunting, street-art-slathered wonder to behold. Now that it's sold, everything that's intriguing and endearing about it is doubtlessly about to vanish.
Here are a couple of shots I took of it in the 90's and 2000's. Click on each to enlarge. Enjoy it while it lasts...
I should preface this post by saying that I've never liked Reservoir as a bar, and I've never spent any time or money within its walls. It's just not my scene, and I've never given a damn about it.
But while my comrades Jeremiah Moss and EV Grieve are exceptionally more suited to providing reportage regarding sudden closings and the rumors of closings, I heard a bit of speculative talk recently that I thought warranted a mention.
While procuring some goods in a neighboring establishment just down the way, I overheard the shop's somewhat legendary clerk discussing with the patron in front of me the sudden sale of 70 University Place, the building that houses Reservoir on its ground floor. The patron mentioned that the bar would probably soon be closing, in order to accommodate a developer's new plan for yet another new condominium.
Now, again, I have zero idea of the veracity of this story and of the credibility of the tale-telling patron in question, but if it's true -- or even if just part of it's true -- it only spells more change for University Place (and, for that matter, downtown as a whole).
Like I said, I don't really give two hoots about Reservoir. There is absolutely nothing distinctive about it. It might as well be in Pataskala, Ohio for all the character it exudes. It's a depressingly formulaic sports bar with too many televisions.
Once upon a time, however, the space that Reservoir currently occupies was Bradley's, a fabled jazz club.
You can read an authoritative account of Bradley's via this New York Times piece. Now, I am not -- nor have I ever claimed to be -- anything of a jazzbo (I own maybe four credible jazz records -- and most of them are populist cliches), but still ... I respected Bradley's for its cool cache and cultural significance -- despite the fact it was the type of place where you'd prompt a lot of emphatic "Shhhhhh"s when you ordered a beer.
Despite maybe the layout of the room, pretty much everything that was cool about Bradley's is invisible in Reservoir, but it seems likely that the next incarnation of 70 University Place (if it's really going) will erase everything about its former glory.
You can catch a fleeting glimpse of Bradley's in this clip of NYC jazz clubs of the 1990's -- many of which are also gone. Watch for it at about 06:19 minutes in.
I was feeling a bit remiss in my updates about my newfangled fitness initiative, but -- honestly -- there hasn't been all that much to tell. I started running back in mid-July primarily as a means of combatting my increasingly less-than-healthy lifestyle, but also as a way of finding focus, direction and clarity. This year started out poorly for me and has gotten successively worse as the months have rolled on. That hasn't stopped. Since I started running, my family weathered another blow, that being the death of my step-father in mid-August. The painful process of dealing with that loss -- and the logistical demands that accompany a death in the family -- have only strengthened my resolve. I don't just want to keep running, I positively need to keep running.
That all said, now that summer's over, there are new obstacles. I'd gotten a bit spoiled after spending much of my summer in Quogue. My morning runs out there found me slogging around a comparatively idyllic country block. Sure, it was a bit larger than Washington Square Park (the distance from start to finish on my Quogue route initially took me about ten minutes to complete ... shaved down to eight and a half minutes by early September), but I'd settled into a nice routine. Now that I'm back in NYC, it's back to Washington Square Park.
But the Park itself isn't my problem. My problem is that I'm on drop-off duty. As the responsibilities have shaken down, my wife usually makes the kids' lunches and takes care of their breakfast (I'm still largely all thumbs in the kitchen), while it's my gig to get them dressed, out the door and to school on time. That may sound simple, but if you've ever tried to wrangle an eight- and ten-year-old into executing these tasks with any semblance of efficiency, you know it can be a taller order than it seems.
Anyway, as a result of this, while I'd been toying with the idea of squeezing my runs in before these morning duties, I was finding that a bit complicated to pull off. As such, I'm now doing my run after I get back from the school drop-off detail. That's not a huge deal, but it means I'm not getting it done until about 9:00 AM or so.
By this point in the morning, Washington Square Park in September isn't the unpopulated garden of silence and solace that it is two hours earlier. Nope, running around it at this hour means ducking and weaving and wading through any number of obstacles -- foremost among them herds of the NYU student body, a sprawling demographic of disdainfully youthful human cattle, all decked out in pre-tattered flannel and "Cool Story Bro" tees. My curmudgeonly ire notwithstanding, it's still ultimately their turf. As much as I lament the NYU kids' return to the neighborhood at the end of every summer, the irritation they provide me is my own damn fault for choosing to live off of University Place. Thus, I puff, pant and awkwardly plod around the perfectly tanned, toned and tirelessly exposed young midriffs of the co-eds during my lap-and-a-half around the Park.
About a week back, I was engaged in a spirited discussion about running with my cousin, and he spoke with such certainty and zeal about the endorphin rush that results from certain increments of exertion, he being an accomplished runner himself. I just had to nod and feign understanding. It's not that I don't feel good after running, but I've yet to harness that natural high I keep hearing about. Again, I'd probably do well to curtail more excesses in my diet to make a more meaningful amount of progress, but it's the commitment to the physicality of running that keeps driving me.
Even though I don't run every day, on the days I don't do it, I feel a compulsion to compensate. I skipped a run yesterday, as I had to make a trip up to my late step-father's home in Connecticut. On the train ride home, I got off at the Harlem 125th Street stop -- and walked home to our apartment in the Village.
I haven't mastered it all yet, but I'll get there. I don't know if I'll ever feel comfortable really calling myself a runner. I don't know that I'd ever feel confident in my abilities to try a half-marathon, as my afore-cited cousin encouraged me to do. I don't know that this will ever feel normal, or if I will ever feel normal again.