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.
If, like me, you spend an entirely inordinate amount of time on Instagram (both posting and perusing), and you enjoy the same brand of stupid shit I do, you’d do well to follow the similarly inclined Chris Stein (he of Blondie, of course).
Not only does he post a rich array of vintage pics from Blondie’s heyday, but also myriad snaps of other punks, hipsters, scene-makers and New Wave royalty, as well as a trove of cool shots of New York City and beyond. He does it well, and he does it right. Check him out.
It’s plaguing me, as I’m a walker. There’s really nothing I enjoy doing more than simply walking around New York City, usually with headphones in, and just soaking it all in. I love visually scouring the surrounding cityscape for tiny minutia left over from eras past. I love looking at a minute flourish of architectural detail and thinking that it’s been there in that same spot while lives around it have come and gone as the years have rolled on. I love spotting a tattered, ancient flyer from some forgotten gig that the combined forces of time, weather and graffiti have not managed to scrape away and wondering how long ago someone pasted it up, and whether that person is aware that it’s still there, eons after the event has come and gone.
For example, I was walking through TriBeCa the other morning and I spotted a fading sticker for an old local band called The Valentine Six stuck high on a street lamp. I vividly recall seeing the Valentine Six perform at Brownie’s a couple of times back in the `90s, playing their brand of sorta Noir-Swing (imagine mournful, whiskey-soaked saxophones and spy-movie guitars scoring a pulpy drama, and you’re in the right crime scene). That all said, the Valentine Six only managed to release a single album in 1997 before calling it a night. As far as I know, the band is no more. Likewise, Brownie’s closed quite some time ago. But over on that street lamp on Leonard Street, the flag still flies for the Valentine Six. I kinda love that.
Anyway, the trouble in the instance of this Lunachicks photograph is that I walk a lot and routinely cover a helluva lot of territory. As such, while I genuinely believe that I’ve spotted this exact location (the two-layered wall behind drummer Becky Wreck in the back, specifically), I’ve walked around so many different parts of downtown recently — from Chelsea to SoHo to TriBeCa to the East Village to Chinatown — that it still could pretty much be ANYwhere.
I’ve shared my quandary with likely communities on Facebook and with my similarly inclined sleuthy bloggers, but maybe it’s because the Lunachicks aren’t Bob Dylan or Patti Smith, no one else seems as hell-bent on solving the puzzle.
Now, conversely, when a band that hasn’t played together in 33 goddamn years -– and who has a rich and storied history of acrimony, shit-talking and repeated litigation -– suddenly announces that they’re reuniting, now THAT is something to get genuinely amazed about.
The reality, of course, will probably fail to live up to expectations. I mean, how could it not? Glenn Danzig, Jerry Only and Doyle have all stayed active in the ensuing decades, but they’re hardly the hungry, lean and hostile dudes they were in 1983. Well, they’re probably still pretty hostile, but still … three decades will slow you down (trust me on that one … I know of what I speak).
And yes….it’s somewhat hard to fathom these three dudes getting together and burying the hatchet (or, at least, not trying to bury said hatchet in each other). I’m sure it took a crass amount of money to make it happen. And yes … Danzig remains a pugnacious conservative who probably supports Trump. They’re doing it for the money, and they’re a pack of grumpy old farts who’ll invariably have a very hard time replicating the feverish stealth of their glory days. But so what?
My friend Drew commented that seeing The Misfits after all this time might almost do more harm than good to their reputation, given the probability that they won't (or simply can't) deliver their music in the same way that they used to. He drew a parallel to the hypothetical notion of Minor Threat attempting same. I countered that it would invariably be more difficult for Minor Threat given their po-faced convictions and lyrical concentration on all things youth. Given that the Misfits were never so idealistic, and that they sang primarily about werewolves, martians, necrophagia and murder, that shouldn't be a problem. That stuff never gets old.
In any case, I’m all for seeing them try to attempt it. I won’t be at those shows, but I’ll be hoping for some NYC appearances if it all goes to plan … which it probably won’t.
I probably shouldn’t start new inquiries until I’ve landed the plane on the ‘Downtown’ club and the location of that Lunachicks photo (that one is really driving me nuts), but here’s a quick lark…
I’ve been listening to quite a bit of The Fall again recently, albeit for no readily apparent reason, although maybe it was prompted by news of the new Brix Smith memoir. Regardless, they’ve been all up in my headphones for weeks, now.
Given that it fit the tenor of my day, I slapped the video below of Mark E. Smith and the boys cranking through “Totally Wired” at some venue in New York City in 1981. If you’re a fan of the band, you’ve probably seen it, and it fucking cooks, accordingly. Here it is now. Enjoy…
Now, in 1981, I was all of 14 years old, and invariably not yet versed in the myriad joys of The Fall (I don’t think I’d really give them a proper listen until about the summer of `86). Moreover, as a 14 year old, while I was indeed getting well into all things Punk, I wasn’t yet hitting the clubs. As such, I don’t recognize the venue the band are seen sweatily performing in.
A quick glance at the official Fall gigography asserts that, in the balmy summer of 1981, The Fall came to New York City and played the following venues: Someplace called The Underground (with Fad Gadget opening … that’s quite a double bill), Maxwell’s in Hoboken, The Peppermint Lounge and Irving Plaza. After a few days in Canada and Boston, they came back to the New York area and played Bond’s Casino in Times Square (as one of many opening acts for the Clash during their fabled residency), the notorious City Gardens in Trenton, New Jersey, a club called Interferon here in NYC and then finally a gig at the Mudd Club at 77 White Street in TriBeca.
Taking those one at a time, I can’t say I recognize the Underground, although it might be that space on West Third Street (adjacent to what is now the Fat Black Pussycat, but that used to be Folk City). I suppose it could be Maxwell’s, but, technically, that’s New Jersey. There were two incarnations of the Peppermint Lounge, although I never made it to either of them. That said, I’ve seen footage of bands like Even Worse playing in same, and it seemed like a bigger room than the one featured above. Likewise, Irving Plaza is a much bigger space than this. I never made it to Bond’s, but clips I’ve seen of The Clash there during those gigs don’t seem to match up with this more intimate looking room either. It might have been City Gardens, but, like Maxwell’s that’s very much in New Jersey, and still seemingly roomier.
That leaves our contenders being the mysterious Underground, Interferon (which I’ve never heard of beyond it being the name of the band who sang “Get Outta London”) and, of course, the Mudd Club. My friend Lela suggested the Mudd Club as well. Let's go there now, shall we?
Now, I never made it to the Mudd Club either, sadly. But, on hunch, I dialed up this fabled clip of the Cramps playing there. Compare and contrast…
Could be the same room, no?
What say you? Anyone there and remember? Weigh in-uh.
Incidentally, today the Mudd Club is a pricey condo, and Bond's Casino, the Peppermint Lounge, Maxwell's and City Gardens are all closed. I have no idea whatever became of Interferon or Underground, other than that they're not here anymore. Both Irving Plaza and, for that matter, The Fall are still going.
While not the official documentation I'm still waiting for, it does support earlier accounts. Also, the assertion that the basement-level club was owned, operated and/or the brainchild, in some capacity, of Joey Ramone adds a new dimension to the story and the search.
Unfortunately, I have no idea who took the picture, nor a specific date. I found it on this website, although no credits or sourcing are cited there either.
The pic most likely dates to as far back as 1990, as bassist Sydney “Squid” Silver is still sporting long locks, which she largely chopped off into a punky bob not too long after the release of their 1990 album, Babysitters on Acid.
I know it must sound strange, but the location looks so familiar. Something about that ancient chain-link fence on the left abutting a short shelf of brick face really rings a bell. There seems to be a gated area behind them, set back from the fairly ripped-up-looking pavement. Overall the architecture is obviously very old New York … I’m assuming it’s either somewhere in the East Village (like maybe around the eastern end of Bleecker Street? St. Marks Church? New York Marble Cemetery? Avenue B?) or quite possibly somewhere around the far western reaches of Chelsea.
I’m projecting on that latter guess, of course, as I can’t think about the Lunachicks without thinking of the first venue I saw them in, that being the Marquee, formerly on West 21st Street. It’s obviously a mega-huge leap, but perhaps this photo was shot that same day in that neighborhood? It’s certainly possible, however much a stretch.
What else can I say? Street-art/graffiti enthusiasts might spot the “COST” tag in between the heads of guitarist Gina Volpe and Squid. The façade behind drummer Becky Wreck in the way back of the gang seems to have two layers, with the lower boasting a shinier, more reflective finish. The street in question seems fairly bright and open, like possibly an avenue or a double-wide strip like East Houston. Guitarist Sindi B. in the center seems to be wearing the same red denim vest (under her leather jacket) that she sports in this live video from the Marquee show, but that doesn’t really mean anything. I’m sure she wore it a lot.
C’mon, fellow rock geeks and location-sleuths … get busy! Where are the Lunachicks posing here?
Anyway, it was not a theory I personally subscribed to, nor one I think even Chuck Klosterman took very seriously, but it did make me listen to that record again with a new pair of ears. In any case, it was fun post at the time, and that was that.
Strangely, out of all the entries I’ve published on this silly blog over the past decade, it is the one that will not die!
As mentioned in this post from 2010 (which already feels like a lifetime ago), the post was picked up by the fine, funny folks at Cracked.com, which gave the still percolating post (seemingly roundly invoked on many a Radiohead chat board) a fresh new boost. And being that Cracked routinely gets far more deeper clicks than this silly blog, that original post’s placement on same kept people coming back to it.
Then, in 2014, Noisey also pointed to the post in a cheeky takedown of the band called Radiohead is for Boring Nerds, and –- again -– the clicks rained down.
Today, in 2016, Noisey must have revived that post in light of the long awaited release of a new Radiohead record, as this blog has received both a huge spike in page views and a fresh new crop of correspondence from feverish Radiohead fans and detractors alike.
Here’s the thing:I DON’T CARE!
I do actually like Radiohead, although I’d hardly call myself an ardent fan. I thought the new single with the claymation “Wicker Man” theme was perfectly alright. I’m not sprinting out to buy it, although I’m not even sure I could if I wanted to, being that I think it’s a digital only release and, … on yes, … THERE AREN’T MANY PLACES LEFT TO BUY A PHYSICAL COPY OF IT, but that’s obviously a different, tenaciously stinging grumble.
But in terms of the merits of the original theory about Kid A and September 11th, I’m sorry -– and I’m relatively certain Chuck Klosterman would agree –- it was just a bit of silly rumination and juxtaposition, not something you should really be taking all that seriously.
I started writing this as yet another requiem to Manhattan’s once-thriving network of amazing, independent record and disc shops, but I can only spin that sorry yarn so many times. Suffice to say, once they were plentiful, and then they became fewer and fewer. Then they became sparse. Now, they’re virtually extinct.
Those with too much time on their hands and a keen eye for minutia might glean that I’ve titled this post with the same wording as how I’ve dealt with this year’s unprecedentedly cruel culling of iconic musicians. That’s not an accident, as losing Other Music is just as heartbreaking as losing Lemmy, Bowie and Prince. That might sound histrionic to folks who are content with streaming the latest dribble of the tepid sonic diarrhea that passes itself off as pop music today, but for those of us who’ve spent most of their lives absolutely cherishing music in all its richly diverse permutations and physical manifestations, it’s the gospel. And if you can’t wrap your head around that, you should stop reading now, as I’ll probably shortly write something that’s going to offend you.
If you’re someone who gets excited about indefensibly inane bullshit like Beyonce, Justin Bieber or Drake, you’re not going to understand this, as you’re either too young, too cognitively challenged or music just doesn’t mean that much to you.
Shops like Other Music meant more than simply a place to purchase things. For a start, I don’t think there was ever a time I set foot in the place and didn’t learn about, see or hear something new that spoke directly to my interests. Other Music was a browser’s paradise, especially given its pointedly left-of-the-dial sensibilities. Looking for the new Mariah Carey single, Journey box set or Kesha disc? You were shit out of luck, jerk-off. Looking for an obscure collection of pre-punk pub/garage rock, limited edition Robyn Hitchcock re-issue on vinyl, collection of rarified D.C. hardcore 7”s or a used-albeit-pristine copy of a rare SWANS opus? Other Music had you covered, and would happily chat with you about those excellent selections.
Personally speaking, as the ice floe I’m precariously stranded on drifts further and further away from the continents of “Cool” and “Relevant,” I find myself clinging tenaciously to places where my antiquated language is still spoken. It’s become increasingly rarer to be able to walk into a place where names like, I dunno, Scratch Acid, The Pop Group, The Modern Lovers, The Wedding Present, The Birthday Party, The Screaming Blue Messiahs, Cop Shoot Cop and/or yes indeed…goddamn Killing Joke might actually resonate with the ears and sensibility of a fellow human being. There had been other places – shops like Mondo Kim’s, Rocks in Your Head, Pier Platters, Second Coming, Bleecker Bob’s, Lunch for Your Ears, Rockit Scientist, Subterranean Records, Venus Records – but ALL of those places -- fucking ALL OF THEM -- are gone.
Yes, we still have a not-quite-handful of shops left in Manhattan, like Rebel Rebel, Generation Records, Bleecker Street Records, Record Runner (when it’s open) and the super far-flung Downtown Music Gallery, but with all due respect to those great ventures, they don’t come close to Other Music. I do love Rough Trade across the river, but that's not Manhattan.
Pour one out for Other Music.
And while we’re on the subject, fuck Record Store Day -- stop streaming and show your appreciation for the artists and independent local businesses by procuring your music in physical formats at your local record/disc store all year round. It’s really not that complicated.
Back in 2013, I posted an entry based around a homemade video for “She Cracked” by the Modern Lovers (above) which utilized a lot of period-specific footage of the New York City of the band’s era, that being the early-to-mid 70’s. I later discovered that some of that footage came from filmmaker Anton Perich. One could be pedantic here and point out that the Modern Lovers famously hailed from Boston, but you’d have to be deaf and stupid not to hear the correlation between the Modern Lovers and their NYC counterparts in the Velvet Underground. Regardless, they certainly spent a lot of time in NYC.
In any case, the dude that made that first video was a gent name Warren Loft, and Warren’s made a few more over the years, it seems. I dialed up his clip for the Modern Lovers’ “Old World” this afternoon, and was struck again by the specificity of archival footage he utilizes.
Presumably inspired by the line wherein Jonathan Richman laments that he had a New York girlfriend, Loft’s clip for “Old World” offers up a glimpse back into the New York City of the `50’s, `60s, and early `70s, much of from the vantage point of the long-since dismantled elevated train tracks.
I love watching these old films and suddenly spotting something seemingly incidental that’s familiar and still there, like the crucifix signage on the corner of Cooper Square and 7th Street….