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.
The explanation is probably strikingly banal, but I was at Five Napkin Burger on East 14th Street with my kids on Monday afternoon (they really wanted to try the sliders), and while I was looking out the window onto the grotty splendor of that particularly busy stretch of Third Avenue, I spied a sign I’ve frequently wondered about (see below).
At first glance, I’ve always assumed that the billboard-sized sign simply predated the taller building that stands in front of it, and the construction of the latter closed off the remainder of the sign from view, leaving only the cryptic letters “TML ets DNA” in view. But that doesn’t add up, as I can’t for the life of me think of any words that end in “TML” or “DNA.”
I posed the question to my kids, who were surprisingly as immediately fascinated by it as I was (Oliver likes anything to do with letters or numbers). Is it an anagram? Some fractured Latin? Some antiquated code?
I discussed it in some depth on this post from 2008, but back in the spring of 2004, I bought my first digital camera. It sounds quaint now, but they were still fairly newfangled at that point. I'd been fighting the incoming tide of digital photography in much the same I'd been pushing back against the onslaught of mp3s over compact discs (and, more recently, Kindles, Nooks and other tablets over actual books). But, with a brand new baby daughter having just arrived, my obligation to send pictures of my lovely little offspring to relatives and loved ones on all corners of the earth demanded that I succumb to the ease and convenience of digital photography. I made a vow that I'd still continue to use film, but -- obviously -- that never happened.
Almost a decade later, had I kept that vow, I wonder where I'd get my film developed these days? Can you name a nearby photo lab that's still open? I don't think I can.
In any case, becoming a parent in 2004 opened myriad new chapters in my life. But it also served, in turn, to close others. While, yes, getting married was a big step, it was having my first child that really served as the Rubicon-crossing from whence there was no return. My life changed. My world perspective changed. My priorities changed. Maybe not all overnight, but the fact remains that I was forever transformed.
On a small scale, I don't believe I ever shot another role of film again after Charlotte was born. It was a vow that was just too difficult to keep. Moreover, I just wasn't spending as much time taking pictures of things other that my family by that point.
That changed back, though, gradually. In time, I was back to taking pictures of my favorite things in New York City. But by this time, I felt as though there'd been a significant sea change. Whether it was because of the events of September 11, 2001 or -- again -- because I was now a dad, the NYC I'd captured in my box fulls of black & white film didn't seem the same. As such, I didn't give the pictures I was now taking as much consideration, I suppose.
Quite recently, as I recently lamented, my desktop home computer (my third iMac) has crossed a Rubicon of its own, and is sorely in need of being upgraded, if not entirely jettisoned in favor of a newer, faster, stronger model. As fate would have it, however, I'm just not in a position at the moment to be droppin' those kinds of dollars. As such, I'm trying to squeeze that last bits of life-blood out of the thing. I'm freeing up as much space on it as I can by offloading huge swathes of stuff onto external drives and purging like mad.
In the course of doing same, I started going through my pictures in iPhoto more scrupulously -- deleting meaningless ones and lightening the load. During that process, however, I was struck by how many images I'd amassed since April of 2004 of things that -- by this point nine years later -- are no longer there. I routinely post photo round-ups of since-vanished New York City locales from back in my proper film days, so in that same theme, herewith a new edition of Things That Are Not There....
The Hog Pit (22 9th Avenue) circa June 2004
Extra Place (1st Street between Bowery and Second Avenue.. behind CBGB) circa August 2004
9 Second Avenue circa August 2004
291 Bowery circa August 2004
The High Line circa September 2004
Tower Records on Broadway and East 4th circa January 2005
The Cedar Tavern on Univesity Place circa January 2005
Subterranean Records of Cornelia Street circa September 2006
Cool Stuff on Lafayette Street just north of Bleecker circa February 2006
I’m not sure where I first heard the term “Horse Latitudes,” but I believe it was probably courtesy of The Doors. If I understand it correctly, it's shorthand for seas that are so cripplingly calm that in order to make any progress, the heaviest cargo –- invariably the horses -- had to be thrown overboard to lighten the load. Ol’ Jim Morrison wrote a poem about the horror those unfortunate animals must have felt as their ponderous bulk plunged into the merciless deep. But in order to advance, sacrifices had to be made.
I’ve been having to do a bit of same here at the homestead (although it's significantly less dramatic than I'd imagine). After about six years of service, my long-suffering iMac is struggling. Even after clearing caches, emptying the trash and offloading heaps of heavy files to an external drive, my startup disc on my laughably outdated machine (OS X 10.5 or so) keeps filling up and wheezing like an asthmatic. It’s hugely frustrating.
Until I get this problem resolved -– either via some magic solution you, dear reader, might provide, or from shedding the bread to facilitate a proper upgrade to a new machine –- there might be a significant slowdown in activity here.
The Disclaimer: As far back to the beginnings of my music fandom, I've always been attracted to the willfully provocative. I thrilled to the scholastically-opposed strains of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall Pt. II" and relished the parent-worrying spectacle of prurience and pyromania that was vintage KISS. I cherished the ominous whiff of brimstone and taboo that was part and parcel of every Black Sabbath recording. I felt a rush every time the very name "Sex Pistols" was uttered, projecting that it drew a line in the sand between what was proper and acceptable and what was going well out of its way to pointedly offend you. It didn't hurt that the music was also excellent in all these (and countless other) cases, but that sheer element of the unabashedly shocking, defiant and anti-social played no small part in the appeal, if I'm being honest.
As time went on, the ante was gradually upped. I adopted myriad bands with deliberately tasteless monikers as favorites, although never solely because of that reason. I can spout off hundreds of bands with socially unacceptable names who completely suck and don't deserve the recognition. But from The Stranglers and Dead Kennedys to MDC (Millions of Dead Cops, Multi-Death Corporation, etc.) and the Circle Jerks (if I'm being candid, I didn't even know what their name actually meant for a couple of years), my roster of favorites probably had something to insult or disturb everyone.
That never bothered me, really. I'd suggest that the finest art is the kind that pushes buttons and leaves an indelible impression. I also figure that it's all silly and juvenile and you should really keep a sense of humor about such things. I'm not suggesting that these artists shouldn't be taken seriously, but aren't there much bigger fish to be fried than worrying about the names and/or song-titles of rock n' roll records?
There is one band, however, that I am a deeply avowed fan of that's posed a steadily growing amount of conflict for me. I penned the post below in one sitting, concentrating more on the minutia of the circumstances than on the impossibly controversial nature of the band's name, as it's a part of their story that I'd glossed over for years, and never took as seriously as others might have. The name of this band is Cop Shoot Cop.
It would be convenient and predictable to suggest that since becoming a parent a few years back, I see the world with a newer, more sensitive and compassionate perspective, but I don't think that's it. Even at the height of my irresponsible youth, I still knew full well that the name Cop Shoot Cop (regardless of how you interpret the moniker .... see below for those arguably trivial nuances) crossed several heretofore unchallenged lines. On a purely surface level, the name Cop Shoot Cop vaulted majestically over the battlements of political correctness and into a whole new frontier of scary nihilism. That was probably by design ... to see how far too far could go.
I first met the guys in Cop Shoot Cop in about 1991 or so. I was writing a cover story about them for a long-since-vanished freebie weekly called New York Perspectives. I'm sure I had loads of preconceptions about what they were going to be like based on their records and their live show, but I don't think I really knew what to expect. But when they walked into CBGB's Pizza & Record Canteen on the Bowery (anyone remember that?), they turned out to be insightful, funny and thoughtful guys (and not at all scowling, pistol-concealing contrarians). This encounter pretty much completely desensitized me to that problematic name. They became just another band with a nasty name -- not unlike Suicide or Slayer or The Crucifucks or Jane's Addiction -- whose music I loved. Decades later, I'm even still friends with a couple of the Cop Shoot Cop guys.
Time went on. The band broke up without every really "making it big" (surprise, surprise) and the members went onto different things. As I point out in the post below, I remained -- and continue to remain -- a loyal fan of the now-defunct ensemble. But in more recent years, I've found the very name Cop Shoot Cop much harder to rationally defend as a sentient adult, and it's probably not a big mystery as to why that is.
In the last few years alone, there have been simply too many episodes of unspeakable gun violence that the American public has turned a blind eye to for far, far too long. Guns are simply way too woven into the fabric of American culture, and in the wake of Aurora and Sandy Hook (although there are scores and scores of other tragedies that one could easily cite), it seems the conversation about gun control and practical necessity is finally getting close to where it needs to be.
In absolutely no uncertain terms, I abhor guns and gun culture. I've never owned one, and I probably never will. And I don't think anyone outside the theater of war needs to own an assault weapon. Full stop. The fact that the Senate is failing to take any action on a meaningful assault weapons ban is something I find unbelievably repugnant and shameful.
So, with all that in mind, you can probably ascertain why I had second thoughts about the post below. At the risk of belaboring the point, I am a fan of Cop Shot Cop the band, not Cop Shoot Cop the concept. I've always interpreted the band's name as a purely artistic statement (however macabre) and not as a legitimate endorsement of conduct. With that, read on....
The actual post:
When I latch onto a band I’ve deemed ‘a favorite,’ it’s usually with a pretty tenacious grip. I tend to remain obstreperously loyal, even in the face of break-ups, side-projects, missteps, concept albums, attrition, changing trends, etc. Witness my dogged reluctance to fully condemn KISS even after innumerable crimes against their legacy, their dignity and all around good taste. Being that they were once my all-time faves, I can't fully forsake them. Once I’m in, I’m usually in for the long haul.
One such band I’ve staunchly supported, defended and noisily lauded the merits of over the years is New York City’s own Cop Shoot Cop. Yes, I'm fully aware of the utter tastelessness of their name (although it's been said that the very name 'Cop Shoot Cop' is less about gun violence and anti-authoritarianism and more about the heroin junkie's ritual -- not that that's necessarily much better). If you’re not familiar with’em, it’s probably too late now. They called it quits in about 1996, and their catalog is now pretty much solidly out of print (for those of you, like myself, who still opt for the physical manifestation of music). There’s always the Internet, though.
In any case, while most of the rest of the world has moved on, I’m still a die-hard C$C fan. I’m actually friends with a couple of former members of the band, and even they basically wish I’d get the hell over it. Sorry, boys, but that just ain’t going to happen. I still regularly play Cop Shoot Cop’s albums. I still routinely trawl around eBay looking for lost C$C ephemera (there’s a particular gig poster from about 1990 that I’d gladly donate an organ to possess, but I’ve never seen it outside of a public school wall on East 4th street eons ago). I’m pretty much always on the lookout for anything related, however tenuously, to this unjustly under-praised band.
But I’ve waxed rhapsodic about my allegiance to Cop Shoot Cop a few times here (notably here and here), so I won’t bother rehashing all that purple prose. Suffice to say that if you don’t care for Cop Shoot Cop, you can count on a bug-eyed argument from me. As far as I'm concerned, they were one of the best bands of the 90s. Their influences may have been easy to spout off, but I'd assert that Cop Shoot Cop were a helluva lot more original and interesting than, oh, say, Nirvana (a band who, ironically and tragically, did play around with guns and heroin). But, I digress.
To the discerning Cop Shoot Cop zealot, there are a few choice, rare items worth tracking down. For example, there is the set of baseball cards they put out as a promotional item with the release of Release (complete with endearingly ridiculous, band-penned bio info on the back of each). There’s the CD single of “Room 429,” which features a visceral live bash through early favorite “Shine On, Elizabeth” as an extra cut. There’s the “electronic press kit” VHS tape featuring quasi-candid interviews and performance clips. There’s the Red Expendables debut, which is essentially the re-worked mixes of what would have been Cop Shoot Cop’s final album with vocalist/high-end bassist Tod [A]’s (credited as [T] Ashley) parts pointedly minimized. These and other items are getting rarer by the day, but they’re still out there.
Probably the most notorious bit of arcane Cop Shoot Cop material, however is the Piece, Man seven inch single. Released circa 1989 on Vertical records, this particular slab of wax features caustic favorites like “Eggs For Rib” (which purportedly borrowed its bass line from Jobim’s “The Girl from Ipanema”) and the perennial, church-worrying favorite, “Robert Tilton Handjob.” With a song title like that coupled with the band’s name (not exactly a moniker that endeared the band to the local constabulary), you might have thought that was enough. Well, to up the ante, all 1,000 pressings of the Piece, Man single came splattered in actual pig’s blood. Bon appetit.
In a previous incarnation of the official Cop Shoot Cop site (manned by drummer Phil Puleo, now a member of SWANS), there used to be a long, candid explanation of how the controversial sleeve came to be. That explanation's no longer up, sadly.
The music on the Piece, Man single was later appended to the cassette version of the re-release of the band’s debut 12”, Headkick Facsimile, which you used to be able to get from the band’s website, although those are now long gone (I still have a couple of copies of the cassette … one still wrapped, no less, `cos yes,… I’m that type of guy). But when it comes to “collector scum” tactics, the tactile artifact that is the limited edition Piece, Man single is the big differentiator.
Personally speaking, I think I came into possessing my first copy of the Piece, Man single courtesy of my friend Rob B., who gave it to me for a birthday present many years ago. I bought a second copy right off the wall of (soon to vanish) Bleecker Bob's. My third copy came directly from former Cop Shoot Cop "high-end" bassist and vocalist Tod [A], when he graciously bestowed upon me some band-related odds and ends he was parting with several years back. With all due respect to Marc Fisher's project, I'm not parting with any of them. That said, if you'd care to contribute to Marc's vision, he writes:
If you have a copy that is not represented here, please email a photograph of it to me and I'll add it to this collection: marc [at] publiccollectors.org.
Years later, however, I was thrilled to find a different shot from the same session, this one finding our Joe (still with cowboy hat on) lighting up a smoke on the Eastern fringes of 14th Street. I put it up here -- much like Bayley's more celebrated shot -- on one of the anniversaries of the great man's death. The particular strip of real estate depicted in that second shot actually looks pretty much the same today (which normally isn't the case).
Earlier this week, however, I was thrilled to find (on Tumblr) a third take from that same day. This one finds our Joe perusing what must have been a street-side used bookstore. Joe's brandishing a paperback emblazoned with a clenched fist and the title "POWER."
In the fine tradition of these twoposts, I decided to take my kids out for a bite to eat and replicate that shot in the precise location. I think we managed it. What do you think?
You may remember a post I put up back in December wherein I went off on a photo mission with my little ones to try to divine the precise locations of ... and replicate ... certain photographs of notable rock-types loitering stylishly around the streets of the city. Well, this weekend -- with my wife still away on a family matter -- I found myself in need of an activity to fill Saturday with my little kids in-between errands. As such, we found ourselves around Gramercy, following in some fairly fabled footsteps. We'd have attempted more, but it got pretty dang cold after a bit. In any case, here's some of the fun we had.
I only recently spotted this great shot of David Johansen of the New York Dolls by way of this excellent site. This is, of course, our David blocking traffic at the bottom end of Lexington Avenue. Taken by one Gary Green in 1977, this shot finds the erstwhile Doll looking south into what would be Gramercy Park. To his right -- just out of shot -- is the Gramercy Park Hotel, but more about that later. Below David is our take, which was fairly tricky, being that there was a steady stream of cars on the street.
Speaking of Cars, here's Ebet Roberts' take of the fledgling Cars in almost the exact same spot (originally spotted in the amazing collection, "Blank Generation Revisited." Apart from maybe the Chelsea Hotel, the Gramercy Park Hotel was the go-to rock n' roll hotel, given its proximity to the promise of downtown just steps from its entrance. It looks totally different today, but you can catch a glimpse of what it used to look like in the video for the Psychedelic Furs' "Run and Run," a vid I've put up here a few times.
I quite enjoy Oliver faithfully mimicking guitarist Elliot Easton's pose in this pairing.
Here's a newsflash: I've never given a rat's ass about Bob Dylan. Sure, loads of my friends -- let alone musicians' whose work I greatly enjoy -- cite Dylan as a massive influence, but I just can't get into it. Not sure if it's the voice or just the fact that he's so universally deified, but I can't seem to get it. I certainly respect the man, but don't ask me to get excited about his music. That all said, since we were in Gramercy Park, I thought I'd tip my hat to the great Bob Egan (a Bob whose work I have more time for) and pay homage to the cover of Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited. The steps in question are inaccessible today ... but we got up real close.
No rock-informed trip to this neighborhood would be complete without a swing by the former site of Max's Kansas City. Much like the Mudd Club, I never actually darkened the doors of this hallowed venue at 213 Park Avenue South, being that I was only 14 years old when it closed its doors, but its legacy is rich in the annals of rock history. From the Velvet Underground to Bob Marley to Suicide to Devo to Sid Vicious to even KISS (I think) and all points in between, anyone who was anyone played Max's. Today, that storied legacy is sullied by the fact that it's now a friggin' deli.
By this point -- especially in the wake of his now legendary appearance on Piers Morgan's program -- picking on bug-eyed, conspiracy-crazed gun-nut Alex Jones seems like, er, shooting at an easy target. But, one of my colleagues posted the clip below on Facebook recently, and it made my blood boil anew, so I'm sharing it here.
The sad and scary thing in this instance is that a large swathe of the American people thinks like this man. Granted, it's not a particularly bright swathe, but still. On a purely surface level -- subtracting his requisite, frothy-mouthed alarmism from the equation -- the mere fact that he's reinforcing the demonization of kids who aren't jocks -- let alone kids who possess even a modicum of intellectual curiosity -- is irresponsible enough. Don't we already have enough of a bullying problem?
He's right about one thing, though. We nerds ARE dangerous.