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.
For a great many folks, I’d imagine, mention 2B on Avenue B -- otherwise known as The Gas Station -- and the first thing to spring to mind will be a notorious early summer performance in 1993 by these photogenic fellows…..
Yes, it was GG Allin & the Murder Junkies (who I’ve spoken about here a few times) who arguably put The Gas Station on the map (and probably helped spell its demise). That GG Allin's legacy is inexorably connected with The Gas Station is probably a sore spot for the artists who originally conceived of the place, but that can't be helped now.
In any case, Gothamist wrote up a little profile of Sullivan yesterday, citing that his archive of 1,900 hours of footage is now in the hands of NYU (Sullivan passed away in 1989). If you haven’t checked out his stuff and you’re nostalgic for the era in question, it’s really worth your time.
A lot of it was just Nelson walking around, having brunch and chatting with friends….nothing all that special much of the time. But in terms of capturing sights and scenes from that era, it’s pretty priceless. It also dispels a lot of revisionist mythology. Much as he did in that last post, my friend Drew shot me the clip of Sullivan’s below this morning and remarked how “normal” Avenue A looked in 1986 (having long been fed the yarn that it was a lawless badlands). Similarly, I put up a clip this past summer featuring a clip of Sullivan’s where he visits CBGB, revealing it to be just another night out on the town, and not a perilous dive into a violent underground scenario rife with chain-weilding mohicans. Clearly not every day in the 1980’s east of Astor Place was a dystopian apocalypse.
Following in the now established milieu of other celebrated oral histories like Legs McNeil & Gillian McCain’s “Please Kill Me,” it’s a fairly exhaustive examination of this city’s contribution to hardcore as told by most of its principal players. Personally speaking, while I was only invested in about half of that time period (and frankly put off by more of the mookish, knuckle-dragging antics of much of the NYHC scene), I still found it to be an illuminating and compelling read. Contrary to popular stereotypes, not every mover and shaker on the New York hardcore scene was a complete lunkhead.
I was particularly intrigued by the whole Rock Hotel passage, a period wherein aspiring promoter Chris Williamson effectively exploited the until-then fairly insular NYHC scene. While he indeed may have broadened the horizons and audiences of these bands (and purposely cross-polinated them with the metal community), he is largely perceived throughout the pages of “NYHC” to have been an avaricious svengali figure who was ultimately only out for his own gain. Having been a big fan of the Rock Hotel shows, I found this to be a bit depressing but not especially surprising. Even then, he seemed like kind of an operator and a bit of cheesy sleazeball (witness his cameos in the Cro-Mags’ video for “We Gotta Know” as he ushers the youthful and impressionable band into waiting limousines on their tour with Motorhead).
I was fleetingly reminded this morning of a video that I had an inkling that I’d posted some long expanse of time ago, and became consumed with tracking it down. In doing so, I found myself combing through virtually every single early post of mine from 2005 until 2008, which was somewhat sobering. Suffice to say, upon re-appraisal, I’d suggest that the first three years of Flaming Pablum are the very antithesis of crucial reading. You may beg to differ, but if so you are being strenuously charitable. I don’t think I really found my stride — much less my footing — until 2008 at the earliest.
ANYway, I found what I was looking for, that being “Ear to the Ground” by percussive performer David Van Tieghem. Obviously, the original film was meant to showcase the inventive rhythmatist’s music, but I was originally struck more by the film’s capturing of the endearingly desolate and somewhat ramshackle environs of the SoHo, TriBeCa and Chinatown of the early 80’s. I also really dug that Killing Joke made a cameo (in the form of a poster on a Broadway wall at around 00:49 into the clip). Here it is again….
As it turns out, Van Tieghem made a sequel to “Ear to the Ground” in 1987 and titled it “Ear-Responsible.” Once again, the streets of New York City act as his drum kit. Here `tis….
If you go David Van Tieghem’s own site, meanwhile, you can see a wider array of his work on video, including this Japanese ad for Sony cassettes. Take a look at that…
Here’s where I get incredibly minutia-laden. In watching the above clip, my heart skipped a beat when I spotted the GODDAMN STENCIL I wasted lots of bandwidth moaning about back in 2013 (see below, just to the lower left of Van Tieghem). I finally found a reproduction of it here.
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.
As I understand it, The Rivington School was technically a loose collective of artists who put up these massive guerilla sculpture gardens, not too different from the old Gas Station on Avenue B. Here's a shot by Toyo Tsuchiya of it circa 1986.
To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what these first two videos are all about. This first one is the Plexus group having a “deconstruction event” at The Rivington School at some point in 1989.
Keep your eyes out for an appearance by Arto Lindsay of DNA and The Lounge Lizards...
Here’s another from 1986, this one featuring the music of Ritual Tension...
Lastly, here’s another episode of Rik Little’s “The Church of Shooting Yourself.” I wrote a little bit about this program back on this post, but essentially, “The Church of Shooting Yourself” was kind of a proto-video blog (consider Rik Little the evil twin of Nelson Sullivan), which captured the somewhat bug-eyed, largely paranoid ramblings of Little as he traversed downtown Manhattan with his trusty video camera. I don’t know if it was shtick or not, but it frequently made for compelling viewing back in the day.
I’m not sure when this particular clip was shot, but after some frankly disturbing footage of police in riot gear strong-arming and subduing someone, Rik then appears at the remains of the Rivington School’s sculpture garden, and he (kinda) discusses its demise. Once again — if you’re only familiar with these streets from the past fifteen or twenty years, you may not recognize these places at all…..
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.
I scratched the surface and found that both the image (and its caption) come courtesy of one Edward Wexler, who wrote: "I took this photograph in the East Village of New York City, April 1998."
With all due respect to Mr. Wexler, I must point out that the location in question was not, in fact, located in the East Village, but rather in SoHo. Basically, this is a shot of the south side of Prince Street between Lafayette and Crosby. Back then, it was a garage, but today you might recognize it as a restaurant called SoHo Park.
Yes, this makes me an insufferable smartypants, but shit like this drives me crazy. Get it right.
Addendum: Here's a shot of the same corner from across the street, taken by Lindsay Campbell from the NYC 1950 to Present group on Facebook. By this point, the pay phones had been removed and the dual-man image was replaced with the masked gunman image (which I took a few pics of)...
Here's my shot of the gunman up close from around 2002...
I've been seeing this sticker pasted up all over town in the past several weeks -- the odd combination of the Misfits' signature "Crimson Ghost" skull with the Liberty Bell -- and my curiosity is duly piqued.
What's the deal? Is it for a Philadelphia-centric Misfits cover band? The MisPhillies? I mean, the Misfits themselves hailed from Lodi, New Jersey. I'm stumped about what this means.
I'm sure the actual explanation will disappoint me.
I did a bit of searching online and still came up with nothing. That said, it's as good a reason as any to revive this.... here's Glen Danzig and Doyle revisiting some Misfits `choons like "20 Eyes," "Skulls," "Mommy, Can I Go Out and Kill Tonight?" and a couple of others back in 2005. Curiously enough, this was filmed in --- WAIT FOR IT-- Philadelphia. Coincidence???
ADDENDUM:I still don't know what this means -- or if it genuinely "means" anything at all -- but it looks like I'm not the only person intrigued and/or keeping track of it. Check out this page. What is #M215Fits all about?
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...