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.
Hey all... Just a quick note to say Happy Valentine's Day. Never my favorite holiday, but c'est la guerre. I promise to have more stuff up here soon. It's just a been a bit crazed of late. Please stand by.
In the interim, be good to each other! The above is a poster from a show I attended in Los Angeles back in the Nineties. The wife finally asked me take the poster down from our wall circa 2001.
I’d originally planned to write a rapturously detailed post about where I was and what I was doing the first time I heard the 1984 single, “Close (To the Edit)” by the Art of Noise, potentially regaling readers with how the fact that its placement on a roadtrip mixtape of mine at the time managed to rile the shit out of some of my stuffy, Grafeful Dead-loving cousins (“fuck is THIS shit?”), only convincing me further of its utter brilliance.
But you don’t need me to tell you all that. If you had ears and a brain in 1984, you knew “Close (To the Edit)” was the sound of the future. Thirty years later, while it sounds quaintly dated, “Close (To the Edit)” remains a remarkably produced piece of music.
And then, of course, there’s the video, which packed an equally bizarre, Dadaist punch to the beat-heavy bombast of Art of Noise’s score. Who are those three demolition dudes? Is that the band? Why are they destroying everything? Who’s the little punkette?
Obviously, it was awesome. Let's review, shall we?
Why am I discussing any of this now? Well, I only recently learned that the video for “Close (To the Edit)” was not filmed in Art of Noise’s native England, as I’d initially assumed, but rather right here in New York City. Shot by Zbigniew Rybczynski, the same maverick director responsible for similarly-inclined clips by Lady Pank's "Minus Zero,"Lou Reed's "Original Wrapper" and Belfegore's "All That I Wanted," the action in “Close (To the Edit)” takes place on a stretch of what is now a posh, well-traveled public park. That’s right, that garbage-strewn, urban wasteland is none other than The High Line.
Anyway, this is evidently old news. There are several blog posts out there detailed to same. In any case, I was out and about last weekend with my kids, and tried to divine the spot of the final shot of the video, using my daughter Charlotte as a stand-in for the little hellion in pink. See what ya think....
Despite the fact that I was just tearing John Varvatos a new one in my last post, I found myself walking up the Bowery with my daughter Charlotte ealrier today, and remembered a photo I'd snapped back in June of 2006 of my then-infant daughter in her stroller, incongruously parked in front of the decidedly toddler-unfriendly CBGB. Thought I'd bring that image to to date.
Everything I wrote about the reasons for putting this blog on hold are still true. I’m still dealing with a problem that arrived out of the clear blue sky and is here to stay for a while (and hopefully only a while). My family is dealing with it, and we are in a better place than we had been with it. We’re on the road to recovery. It’s going to be a long journey to our desired destination, but at least the wheels are turning.
In the interim, while I’ve been preoccupied and miserable about that, I’ve also felt strangely out of sorts from not posting here (and, as a result, have probably been overdoing it on Facebook). So, what’s the point of my blog fatwa? I invariably derive more enjoyment out of composing this woefully indulgent vanity project than anyone else does from reading it, so why am I punishing myself? Yes, I’m in a different headspace these days, but blocking off one of my main avenues of pleasure right now isn’t doing me any favors.
While I have several friends who remember eras prior to Gray's tenure on that particular plot, in my own recollection, there was never a time when I don't remember Gray's Papaya being there. As an Upper East Side kid, I was probably supposed to swear my allegiance to Papaya King on Third Avenue and East 86th Street, but I'd be fibbing if I said I didn't prefer Gray's downtown.
I've discussed the significance of 8th Street to my teenhood here almost as much as I've written about the Cedar Tavern or Rocks in Your Head or favorite bands. To my mind, Gray's Papaya was the veritable anchor of West 8th Street. An inevitable stop on any sortie around the strip's former circuit of record stores and rock t-shirt shops, if you were buying rock pins at Postermat, wraparound shades at Flip, Iron Maiden t-shirts at Butterfly's, Plasmatics bootlegs at It's Only Rock N' Roll or import singles at Venus Records (all long gone, of course), it was nigh on a given that you were going to end up at Gray's at some point for a dog and a milky, styrofoam cup of papaya juice.
I've mentioned it before, but if I'm not mistaken, I believe Lou Reed once cited Gray's as his favorite restaurant (if you could call it that) in Manhattan. For some reason, for several years, the radio inside Gray's was tuned adamantly to WKHK, New York's own short-lived all-country music station (despite the fact that most of the guys that worked behind the grill were from Bangladesh). It was even crashed into by a car only a few years back, but they kept on serving their grub. Gray's was a place you always thought was going to be there.
Much like more celebrated landmarks like the Chelsea Hotel or CBGB, I'm always drawn to take pictures of Gray's on atmospheric evenings, as the place has such vibe (I took all three of these shots). I cannot help but think of the opening strains of the Rolling Stones' "Dance Pt. 1" every time I walk by this place (citing, as they do in the opening portion of the song, the corner in question).
Decades after first setting foot in the place, I still counted myself as a regular. Put simply, while I'm becoming jaded to all the changes happening downtown, this one really, really makes me sad. What is happening to my city?
Back to the hiatus.....
There will invariably be more moments in the days and weeks to come when I cannot fight the urge to hop back online to post something. There's no crime in that. I'm not ashamed to be breaking my hiatus. It brings me joy to do this, and keeps me sharp. But, still, I have to tend to other things right now.
Regrettably, the reason for my hiatus was further cemented in recent days. While I've often said that Flaming Pablum has no single overriding theme, it has obviously become defined by a handful of very specifics topics, and those topics invariably involve looking back in time. As much as it's a tag I don't wear with shame, I have a hard time immersing myself in nostalgia right now, whether good or bad. At the risk of being further vague, the reason for the hiatus is a matter that dwells very pointedly in the NOW and has serious ramifications about THE FUTURE. While I frequently write here about elements of the past here, I almost always frame them within the context of my own past. Well, suffice it to say, I can't justify spending as much time dwelling on my past right now. I've got a problem that needs my attention this instant, in order to secure a better future for an indescribably beloved person in my life going forward.
Until then, thanks to all for your kind words. I am determined to deliver my family through this, and, as such, when I have, I will be back doing what I do here on the regular.
I’m not at all happy to say it, but it looks like I’m going to have to put Flaming Pablum on ice for a while. As alluded in recent weeks, my family’s been grappling with an ongoing problem, and that problem took a very serious turn this week. Moving forward, I’m going to have a great deal on my plate to contend with, and disappointingly cannot guarantee that I’ll to have the time or energy to devote to this blog.
I may pop on every now and again in the wake of topically-appropriate developments, but I just can’t say for sure right now. Please know that I’m incredibly grateful to you all for reading and following me all this time. Again, I will probably be back in a little while, but I just don’t know right now. I’m afraid I don’t know anything anymore.
It's that time of year again. Frankly speaking, 2013 was one of the worst years of my family's life. Pretty much everything about it sucked. As such, we're quite happy to see the back of it. I'm not expecting January 1, 2014 to be a magic silver bullet that suddenly solves everything, but as the Replacements once sagely sang, Anywhere's Better Than Here.
1. What did you do in 2013 that you'd never done before? I can't think of anything to put here that isn't entirely depressing, so I'm going to skip it.
2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I don't remember if I made any, but if I did, I invariably didn't keep them. Will I make some this year? Don't know yet.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Yes, a couple of people.
4. Did anyone close to you die? Sadly, yes. My father-in-law very sadly passed away in January. That sort of set the tone for the year.
5. What countries did you visit? Didn't.
6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013? Conclusive and actionable solutions to an ongoing problem.
7. What date from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory? I'd say Thanksgiving weekend.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? 2013 was not a year of achievements.
9. What was your biggest failure? I'm not sure there was much I could have done better, but I am plagued by the notion that there was more I might have been able to do to prevent the worst aspects of this year.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury? I didn't, no, but those close to me have.
11. What was the best thing you bought? I honestly don't remember. Possibly the big furry beanbag I picked up at Restoration Hardware that was worryingly much larger than the one we'd initially spied in the showroom.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration? My wife and children.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? The usual culprits. I haven't had as much mental energy to get bent out of shape by political stuff, but the far right still have my undying contempt.
14. Where did most of your money go? School tuition, airfare, the tax man, building maintenance.
15. What did you get really, really excited about? In a bad way? The health and well-being of my loved ones. In a good way? Hmmmm. Not very much.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder? Much sadder.
18. Thinner or fatter? Can't say. About the same. Stress keeps me slim.
19. Richer or poorer? Poorer
20. What do you wish you'd done more of? Problem-solving.
21. What do you wish you'd done less of? Stressing out.
22. How did you spend Christmas? We kept it pretty low-key this year. Just at home with my wife and children.
23. Who did you spend the most time on the phone with? Probably with my wife.
24. Did you fall in love in 2013? I was already very much in love.
25. How many one night stands in this last year? I am happily married and ever-faithful.
26. What was your favorite TV program? We did watch an awful lot of the the tube this year. We quite enjoyed "Mad Men" and "Downton Abbey." I think "Girls" and "Homeland" have both started to slide a little bit. Loved "Sherlock" and "Birdsong." Probably most wrapped up in "Breaking Bad," which we're still catching up on (only midway through season 3 at the moment).
27. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year? I can't spend time hating people. That's just not productive. I certainly spent a lot of time hating certain circumstances that were beyond my control.
28. What was the best book you read? Toss up between Dave Gilbert's "& Sons" and Jon Wiederhorn's "Louder Than Hell." Both brought me much-needed distraction.
29. What was your greatest musical discovery? Like I said, I didn't spend as much time obsessing over music in 2013. I continue to quite enjoy "Like a Dream" by Francis & the Lights, though.
30. What did you want and get? The super deluxe re-release of the Velvet Underground's White Light/White Heat and the super deluxe Singles Collection box set by Killing Joke. Both entirely needless, but lovely to behold.
31. What did you want and not get? Conclusive and actionable solutions for an ongoing problem.
32. What were your favorite films of this year? Probably that Big Star documentary.
33. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 46 and there's nothing nice to say about it.
34. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Better health and less suffering for the people I care about.
35. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013? Who's got time for fashion?
36. What kept you sane? Who said anything about me being sane? Honestly, the one thing that kept me sane was the imperative to stay steady, assertive, positive and in control while things were collapsing around me.
37. What celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Who cares?
38. What political issue stirred you the most? Can't say I had the time to worry about any.
39. Who did you miss? I miss my father-in-law and Lou Reed.
40. Who was the best new person you met? Some new colleagues at work, I suppose.
41. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013 Never, ever, ever take your loved ones for granted. Tell them as often as possible how very much they mean to you. And don't expect modern medicine to have every answer. Evidently, it doesn't.
42. Song lyric that sums up 2013: To slap a song lyric that pertains to the circumstances of this year would only serve to trivialize those circumstances, so I'm going to pass on this one.
Initially, from as far back as I can remember, the business on the southeast corner of East 12th and University Place was a stately antiques shop, specializing in the sort of baroque baubles and rococo rinkydinks that Liberace might have adorned his piano with. In the early-to-mid 90's, I remember they had to put out some spiky metal strips on their front exterior to dissuade a local homeless lady from routinely sitting down (they were unsuccessful in this campaign). I never set in foot in the place during this incarnation.
That all said, I didn't really mind Rugby. As much as I think Ralph Lauren is a strenuously lamentable jerk, I must admit to liking Rugby's odd pairing of prepster posh with jolly pirate swashbuckle. They also worked very hard on their ornate window displays. I was not a regular customer by any stretch, but I didn't shake my fist at the place as I walked by it. To this day, I must admit to owning the odd bit of Rugby gear.
Here's where I get confused. Rugby sold clothes that exuded an air of, for lack of a better description, rakish foppery -- maybe a little flashy for a job interview, but still quite presentable. Paired with some other duds, Rugby gear was pretty versatile. Denim & Supply, in contrast, seems to concentrate on the aesthetic of weathered, deliberately distressed blue jeans (think Axl Rose circa 1989). It's a very specific look, and unless you play in an ironic 80's metal cover band, you probably have no need to ever darken Denim & Supply's doors. If you pine for the days of sartorial cliche of bygone rockers of yesteryear, Denim & Supply has you covered.
Were that not dispiriting enough, a month or two back, Denim & Supply decided to up the ante and let the neighborhood experience their presence by garishly covering the entire exterior of their building (again, a lavish, pre-war landmark), with a jarring collage of color and patterns. Basically, it looks like a giant East Bunny vomited all over it.
They didn't paint the exterior, mind you. Instead, they spent a few days coating the edifice with a white, sticky plaster, and then applied the designs on top. I remember hearing some murmurs of them breaking the law by doing this, but who knows? In any case, if you walk down University Place now, there's absolutely no way in Hell you're going to miss Denim & Supply if all of your five senses are functioning. Personally speaking, I think it's an eyesore. My kids, conversely, think it's fab. I'll let you decide for yourselves.
In recent days, though, I couldn't help noticing that the neighborhood seems to be biting back. A chickenscratch grafitti artist recently tagged up the front (it doesn't look like hey had a plan for that, as they've since tried to scrub it off), and the plastering is starting to strip. It's as if the business is a giant Christmas present that some eager child is anxious to open and furtively ripping the wrapping paper for a quick peak.
If it continues like this, it ought to look like shit (or shit of an entirely different variety) it pretty short order.