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.
That's me above circa 1999, looking markedly younger and arguably cooler against a pair of phone boxes in London. We (self, wife, kids) are headed back to London this evening for a few days. I was originally thinking of trying to replicate this shot, but I gather there are no more red phone boxes in London. Makes sense, I guess, but still .... sad.
In any event, while I am bringing my laptop, I don't know that I'll be posting as much, so sit tight. But, ya never know. Watch this space.
2016’s thirst for carnage takes another. We lost Greg Lake on Wednesday to cancer, silencing the original voice of the mighty King Crimson.
In a slavishly overwritten post from almost a decade ago, I summed up my adoration for Crimson’s signature opus, that being “21st Century Schizoid Man” from the stately 1969 debut, In the Court of the Crimson King (pictured above, modelled by my little boy Oliver earlier this year in Academy Records on 18th Street). While that psychoproggy proto-metal riff-blitzkrieg was indeed my way in to all things King Crimson, that whole album is just a magnificent artifact from start to finish. Shifting from mammoth slabs of skull-expanding sound to flights of mellotron-fueled whimsy, Greg Lake’s sonorous vocals provide an order to the maelstrom of sonic flourishes. I was never as wowed by his work with Emerson, Lake & Palmer in later years, but for that first Crimson album alone, Greg Lake is a goddamn titan.
After reading of the great man’s passing this morning at home, I listened to the entirety of In the Court.. in my headphones on my trek to work this morning, bellowing along with the Tolkienesque verses and portentous chorus of the sprawling title track as I strode down the narrow canyon of Cortlandt Alley, with my invocations of the purple piper and the fire-witch echoing off the pavement.
As I mentioned in the obit I penned for the job, while Lake is largely just associated with prog rock, his influence spans beyond that subgenre. “Schizoid” has been covered by everyone from Unrest to Voivod and was even sampled by Kanye West. Lake’s days in ELP arguably made him the personification of everything Punk Rock sought to destroy (although I’d sooner suggest it was his orchestral-filigree-obsessed bandmate, the recently late Keith Emerson, that was guiltier of that charge), but if you can’t hear the untethered rock fury in “21st Century Schizoid Man” (Black Sabbath and Killing Joke were certainly listening), you’re just not paying close enough attention.
There's a lot going on in the world, and there's a lot going on my world. Between the daily idiocy of the impending Trump presidency and the hoopla of the holidays and a busy patch on my own plate (work demands, family, and the book project), I don't have as much time to devote to the blog these weeks. But, I was struck by a sight on my way to work this morning, and thought I'd exhume some old photos to put up here.
My commute to work takes me right through the heart of TriBeCa every day. I've spoken about it here a few times, but when I first started visiting this neighborhood in the late 80s, it was a markedly different scene. The East Village was cool and SoHo was arty, but TriBeCa was just ... desolate. It completely captured my imagination.
These days? It's hard to reconcile that it's the same neighborhood.
Here are some shots I took in the mid-to-late 90s of various TriBeCa locations. Some look the same. Some don't. Enjoy....
The building at 33 Thomas Street looms over Lower Manhattan like a fortress from a Tolkien text, rivalled only in that context by its relatively new neighbor to the west, the so-called “Jenga Tower” that is 56 Leonard Street.
But unlike that architecturally ornate structure of glass and steel, 33 Thomas offers no glinting reflections of the sun, no envy-inducing terraces, no fleeting glimpses of luxury, … and no windows. It stands like an oblong, impenetrable sentinel of indeterminate purpose. It would not look out of place in the opening sequence of “Blade Runner.” Its design is an unwaveringly firm assertion of function, not form. It does not seek your fanciful approval. It suggests something more stern, possibly even sinister.
I walk by 33 Thomas Street pretty much every day and never fail to glace up at it and wonder what transpires beneath its sprawling, brown façade. I assumed it had something to do with telephones, and pretty much left it at that, but since I’ve been regularly walking through TriBeCa every weekday for the past year, it has played with my imagination. What does go on in there? And why do I never see anyone enter .... or leave?
I think I first took notice of it via its placement in the video for “Green Light” by Firewater. In the clip, Tod [A] is seen walking atop the imposing stone perimeter of 33 Thomas, looking down at the camera while ducking and weaving around the structure’s retro-futurist lamp posts. Tod was living in TriBeCa at the time (over on Vestry Street), so 33 Thomas Street’s distinctive edifice was probably a no-brainer for a location.
This may not seem like something that warrants four posts, but the saga of the Madison Square Christmas carolers took a new turn this weekend.
Back in April of 2013, you might remember, I ruminated on the impending fate of the long-standing sentinels of seasonal cheer that held silent court on a perch just above the entrance to the former Commodore Criterion building. Then, sure enough, sometime after the building was purchased and refurbished by high-end bathroom fixture juggernaut, Porcelanosa, they disappeared that next October.
Well, hold onto your eggnog, as yesterday afternoon, my son Oliver and I walked up to Rizzoli, the newish book store on Broadway just north of 16th Street (I am still in search of a copy of Tim Lawrence’s “Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor,” which -– oddly -– no remaining New York City bookshop seems to stock). Upon glancing up at the edifice of the Porcelnosa building (formerly the Commodore Criterion), I spied the below. Notice anything missing?
They are gone again.
Maybe someone bought them? Maybe Porclenosa felt their moment of good will was over? Maybe the Grinch stole them?
I’ve written about the infamous Unband here a couple of times (notably here and here), so won’t bother entirely re-hashing all that, but suffice to say, once upon a time these three friends-of-friends of mine collectively comprised one entertaining little combo of combustable rock fury.
While ostensibly from Northhampton, Mass, the Unband pursued their rock dream first in Los Angeles — frequently soiling the bedding at my friend Rob’s stepmother’s bungalow in Costa Mesa — before attempting same here in NYC. They were a regular fixture in many an East Village watering hole, I was lucky enough to frequently witness them perform live at a few select venues, notably Brownie’s and The Continental, playing alongside a coterie of similarly inclined bands like The Candy Snatchers, Nashville Pussy, the Pleasure Fuckers and the Upper Crust. It was kind of a glorious time.
`Twas at the Continental that I snapped the photo below, one of my favorite shots of the entirely photogenic combo. I rediscovered this photo this past weekend whilst rummaging around my front hall closet, looking for Cop Shoot Cop ephemera for the upcoming book on same I’m working on. In any case, this photo more or less captures the essence of the band.
Despite some comparatively high profile gigs opening for Dio, Def Leppard and Motorhead, the big time never beckoned, and the band broke up, having recorded only two records, the major label Retarder on TVT and their shambolic debut, Chung Wayne Lo Mein on Moon Pig Records (hear a track off the latter here).
No idea what these boys are up to now. The Continental is still there, although they no longer feature live music.
I never saw it, but evidently the Unband even had their own rockumentary….
Just three years after moving off their namesake, Bleecker Street Records is closing for good. You may remember that, after leaving their long-held perch on Bleecker (originally held by Golden Disc Records), Bleecker Street Records decamped to West 4th (ironically into the spot formerly held by Disc-O-Rama Records). Well, that's all over shortly. Here's their announcement...
As of Halloween 2016, we will be making some significant changes at Generation Records.
After much deliberation, we have decided to close our sister store, Bleecker Street Records. A number of factors have contributed to this decision, most notably the proximity of our two stores and the realistic necessity of having more them both in a neighborhood that has seen a drastic rent hike in recent years. We realize that the loss of yet another record store in Manhattan seems discouraging, but our hope is to secure the future of Generation Records as a Village staple.
We will be consolidating all of the stock from Bleecker Street Records into Generation Records, and plan on making sure that we can pull all of our resources together for what will hopefully be a stronger and more focalized store.
As of Halloween 2016, the new store hours for Generation Records will be:
Sunday – Thursday: 12pm – 9pm
Friday & Saturday: 12pm – 10pm
We hope that revamping our store in the coming months, injecting a lot more product and making some major overall changes will allow us to take charge of the dwindling record store scene in Manhattan. Hope to see everyone for Record Store Day coming up this Black Friday, November 25th.
Honestly, Bleecker Street Records was never one of my favorites, but I was glad it was still there. I was frankly surprised it held on longer than superior places like Other Music and Rebel Rebel, but it is now succumbing. That leaves the Village with its sibling outlet, Generation, and the sporadically open Record Runner on Cornelia Street, and that's it.
Sure, we still have Academy on 18th Street, Downtown Music Gallery in Chinatown (albeit only for super-esoteric, adventurous music) and the mighty Rough Trade in Brooklyn. But it still sucks to be losing another.