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.
Oliver and I found ourselves in midtown yesterday afternoon, and while waiting for a light at a specific corner, I was suddenly struck by said corner’s arguable significance, that being its location for the cover shot of Lou Reed’s frankly non-essential compilation, City Lights. You may remember I posted the question here, only to have the inimitable Bob Egan answer it here, correctly divining the corner in question as the southeast corner of West 45th Street and Sixth Avenue.
As such, I couldn’t resist paying homage. See below.
To be honest, I’m not sure how long the No-Tell Motel was in existence. I believe I first darkened its doors at some point in the early 90’s after attending a show just up the block at Brownie’s (which is now called HI-Fi).
It’s seems slightly laborious to point this out now, but at the time, this stretch of the East Village wasn’t quite the insufferable strip of fratty douchebaggery that it is today. That said, I’m sure long-time residents of Avenue A might have been equally annoyed by No-Tell Motel and Brownie’s patrons as they currently are by patrons of Diablo (what the No-Tell space is today) and Hi-Fi. I mean, loud drunks are loud drunks, regardless of their sartorial flair, sensibility and taste in music.
Yep, the No-Tell Motel dates back to the East Village’s dying-embers-days as an arguably more bohemian neighborhood (although Avenue A in the early 90’s was already a much safer and accessible place then it had been but a decade earlier). As such, much like the afore-cited Korova Milk Bar, the No-Tell Motel initially catered to the same indie and “alt.rock” set that would have crammed into Brownie’s. Though a distant cry from the lawless badlands era of A7, there was still a whiff of that punky vibe.
Said vibe might also explain why — in 1994 — the publicity department of Zoo records (a then-subsidiary of BMG) figured it would be the ideal venue wherein to conduct a set of interviews for the local “rock press” (of which I was a tenuous member at the time) with storied British post-punk stalwarts Killing Joke.
By 1994, I was gradually distancing myself from full-time “rock journalism,” but still kept my hand in for certain projects. Obviously, with Killing Joke being (and remaining) my all-time favorites, I leapt at the chance to interview them.
So, one appointed afternoon, I sped down to Avenue A with my trusty, hand-held tape recorder and into the No-Tell Motel, which was an odd place to visit during daylight hours.
At the time, the ranks of Killing Joke were filled by perennial mainstay and inimitable taskmaster Jaz Coleman, his effortlessly cool and regally bequiffed foil, guitarist Geordie Walker and prodigal bassist-turned-hotly-touted-produer Martin “Youth” Glover, back in the fold after over a decade away. After some rudimentary pleasantries with the publicist, I was sat with Youth, who was perched against the bar’s front window, sifting happily through a container of aromatic Indian grub.
To the layperson, the specifics of this interview probably aren’t of that much interest. Suffice to say, this was around the era of the release of Killing Joke’s excellent Pandemonium. Youth, easily the chattiest and most accessible of the trio, was characteristically affable, thoughtful and quite possibly very stoned. Geordie was intimidatingly cool and somewhat distracted by the No-Tell Motel’s video monitor over the bar, which was showing endless loops of vintage porn (“Oooh, she’s got a nice one!”). At some point in the course of my chat with Geordie, he started physically examining my tape-recorder. This is something worth remembering.
Frontman Jaz Coleman was late to proceedings, but entered the No-Tell Motel towards the end of my exchange with Geordie, cutting a strikingly odd figure in all denim. For my chat with Jaz, we were escorted to the back room.
Even if I hadn’t been the slavishly fawning fanboy that I was, Jaz is a formidable interview subject. Invariably sensing my nervousness, the singer swiftly assumed the reins of the discussion in suitably magisterial fashion and proceeded to wax rhapsodic about…well….pretty much whatever was on his mind.
When I look back at this incident now, I’m quite amazed that I managed to summon the sheer foolhardiness to do it, but at one point when Jaz paused in his sweeping narrative, I butted in with a question. “To some of your critics,” I began, “ it seems that you must be sort of a ‘Boy Who Cried Wolf’ figure, being that you’ve been predicting an apocalypse for some time now that patently refuses to occur…..” I could hear these words leaving my mouth as I watched Jaz Coleman’s already-piercing eyes bug out wide. I began to stammer as I saw all the humor drain from his face. I immediately started backpedalling furiously. For a few tense moments there, I started genuinely fearing for some sort of reprisal, but after some uncomfortable moments of deeply incredulous bluster, Jaz calmed back down and we finished up our interview.
I thanked one and all and ducked out of the No-Tell Motel, having just met, chatted with and — fleetingly — insulted my heroes.
Upon arriving home, I discovered that Geordie had slyly rewound the tape recorder after our chat — effectively erasing all of my exchange with him and Youth. The moral of this story: Never let go of your tape recorders, kids.
Anyway, I can’t help but think of that afternoon whenever I walk down that particular plot of Avenue A.
I’m not certain when it shut its doors, but the No-Tell Motel is long gone in 2015, replaced, as I said, by what is now Diablo (although I think it might have been something else in between, at some point).
After I posted that photo of Hank O’Neal’s last week, a reader name Steve T. wrote to me, and attached the photo of the No-Tell Motel’s business card below. “Sleazy Fun for Everyone” indeed….
Lastly, I tried to find more images, but came up largely short. That said, I did find this tiny shot of the back room from an ancient copy of New York Magazine. This is the room I played with fire talking with Jaz Coleman in, although I don’t remember it being this well lit.
Ever since watching the new Nick Cave documentary-of-sorts, “20,000 Days on Earth,” I’ve been on a bit of a Birthday Party/Bad Seeds kick. I’ve always been a fan, but dropped off somewhere around No More Shall We Part, only to plug back in again circa the first Grinderman e.p. (and then only to be left uninspired by his most recent work, Push The Sky Away, which I should probably re-visit).
In any case, in exhuming some of my favorite bits of Cave’s quite substantial catalog, I found myself perusing a Birthday Party gig history on this archive site and was struck by something curious.
During their maiden voyage to New York City, the ferocious Birthday Party evidently played a few gigs around town, notably at an "upmarket rock disco" called The Underground in Union Square, a couple of abortive gigs at the Ritz on East 11th Street, a night at the West 45th street incarnation of The Peppermint Lounge and — most curiously — two dates at a venue I have no recollection of called The Chase Park Lounge.
I immediately did a bit of googling, but frankly came up with absolutely nothing. The only links that came up were links back to various other Birthday Party gig accounts.
Here, meanwhile, is a review of one of the gigs at this mysterious venue by a churlish 16-year-old named Larry. Click on it to enlarge and read...
Okay, so I’m entirely stumped. I realize that live music venues in New York City come and go like sands in the hour glass, but I feel there must be some other evidence of this place’s existence.
Anyone remember The Chase Park Lounge? Weigh in.
Here, meanwhile, is the Birthday Party in their prime….
Lastly, this seems like a good point to brag that NICK CAVE LOVES ME!!!
If you want to see a nostalgic NYC blogger light up like a pinball machine, present him or her with a cache of vintage NYC pics.
Yesterday, Jeremiah Moss of Vanishing New York did just that, by introducing his readers to the photography of Hank O’Neal, largely concentrating on the New York City of the 1980’s. Jeremiah and I have found a few collections like this one over the years, but this was is staggeringly good.
The “oh WOW” factor runs high amidst O’Neal’s pictures, as he’s captured myriad distinctive sights from our since-completely-gentrified city. You really need to spend some time going through them individually, but I pulled out a few selections from his collection that hearken back to some posts here in Flaming Pablum.
Fist up, here’s a great shot from 1981 of the former exterior of the performance art space, The Kitchen on the the corner of Wooster and Broome down in SoHo. I scribbled some stuff about same here and here.
Here’s a shot of the “face behind the bars” — somewhere on West Broadway, I believe — that I wrote about here.
Here’s a shot of long-lost punky vinyl outfit Wowsville on Second Avenue just south of St. Marks Place. My friend Rob and I once unsuccessfully tried to purchase a massive Ramones print here, which ended oddly. I wrote about Wowsville here and here.
Here are a couple of shots of XOXO, formerly across from the Mars Bar on First Street, which I wrote in greater depth about here and here. Note the signature Missing Foundation graffito on the front (rife among O'Neal's shots of the L.E.S.)
Here’s the original site of Downtown Music Gallery on East 5th Street (then adjacent to the Scratcher). I wrote more about this great shop here and here.
Lastly, here’s a passing shot of a bar on Avenue A called the Notell Motel, which was just down a door or two from Brownie’s (now Hi-Fi). I don’t believe I’ve ever posted about it, but I once interviewed three members of Killing Joke at the Notell Motel. For that alone, it remains a special place for me.
Okay, I know....enough already with the Beastie Boys/Kids pics.
It's 2015, and as I laboriously intoned in my year-end survey, the previous year was not a good one. I have lots of things to iron out. As such, while I vow to continue to regularly update Flaming Pablum, I cannot guarantee that I'll be able to do so as much as I'd wish. It's also contingent on me feeling inspired to do so, and I hate to say it, but inspiration is in cripplingly short supply these days. I'm not declaring another hiatus or anything, so don't fret. It just might be slow going for a spell. Or not. We'll see.
In any case, herewith probably the last installment of this incredibly silly series.
The Beastie Boys circa 1982 in SoHo by Arabella Field....on Prince Street between Mott & Mulberry.
And here are my kids in roughly the same spot this afternoon...
This one is a good candidate ....311 10th Ave at 28th St...two window sills at right spot, 2nd window exact match, external extension at right spot, line below windows at right spot....but no background building by the High Line for comparison. The more i look at this one, the more i think this is the right spot.
So, this afternoon -- in lieu of Christmas shopping -- I took a soggy stroll over to that neck of the woods, and I’m now firmly of the opinion that Chung’s got it right. See photographic findings below.
Here, once again, is the original photo...
Here's the corner Chung's suggesting today... West 28th & 10th Avenue...
Here's the hotly contested little window...
Here's a wider pan of the corner in question...
Here's the mysterious background shed....
All told, I'm convinced that this is indeed the original corner...
That's nice, and all....but that still doesn't explain where these shots below were taken....
Anyway, good work, rock sleuths! MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!
You didn't think I’d forgotten about this one, did you?
Opinions and speculations were divided about the location of Roberta Bayley’s photo of Blondie above (and others from the same shoot). I’d originally postulated that the picture may have been snapped at the mouth of Great Jones Alley, but — alas — certain elements didn’t add up. Gradually, others started to suggest that maybe the location wasn’t in Manhattan at all, but rather somewhere in Brooklyn, Queens or the Bronx.
During the course of all this, I shot a note to Roberta Bayley herself via Facebook. I wasn’t sure if she’d engage, but it seemed worth a shot. It took a while, but sure enough, Ms. Bayley got back to me. Here’s what she said….
I was reading your blog, and yes I took all those Blondie photos, it was for a Punk magazine Fumetti commissioned by High Times magazine 1976. It's not Gary Valentine, only Clem showed up for the shoot (plus of course Debbie & Chris). The other guys are Legs McNeil, Tom Katz, & somebody else. The location is somewhere in Chelsea over in the west 20s as I recall.
So, there you have it. Where does that leave us, kids?