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.
Yeah, I know -- there are already way too many books about CBGB out there, but hang on a second.
For a start, photographer David Godlis is a goddamn legend. Secondly, I found his ruminations on night-shooting by available light (influenced by pioneering Hungarian photographer Brassai) to be really pretty interesting.
I should preface this post by saying that I've never liked Reservoir as a bar, and I've never spent any time or money within its walls. It's just not my scene, and I've never given a damn about it.
But while my comrades Jeremiah Moss and EV Grieve are exceptionally more suited to providing reportage regarding sudden closings and the rumors of closings, I heard a bit of speculative talk recently that I thought warranted a mention.
While procuring some goods in a neighboring establishment just down the way, I overheard the shop's somewhat legendary clerk discussing with the patron in front of me the sudden sale of 70 University Place, the building that houses Reservoir on its ground floor. The patron mentioned that the bar would probably soon be closing, in order to accommodate a developer's new plan for yet another new condominium.
Now, again, I have zero idea of the veracity of this story and of the credibility of the tale-telling patron in question, but if it's true -- or even if just part of it's true -- it only spells more change for University Place (and, for that matter, downtown as a whole).
Like I said, I don't really give two hoots about Reservoir. There is absolutely nothing distinctive about it. It might as well be in Pataskala, Ohio for all the character it exudes. It's a depressingly formulaic sports bar with too many televisions.
Once upon a time, however, the space that Reservoir currently occupies was Bradley's, a fabled jazz club.
You can read an authoritative account of Bradley's via this New York Times piece. Now, I am not -- nor have I ever claimed to be -- anything of a jazzbo (I own maybe four credible jazz records -- and most of them are populist cliches), but still ... I respected Bradley's for its cool cache and cultural significance -- despite the fact it was the type of place where you'd prompt a lot of emphatic "Shhhhhh"s when you ordered a beer.
Despite maybe the layout of the room, pretty much everything that was cool about Bradley's is invisible in Reservoir, but it seems likely that the next incarnation of 70 University Place (if it's really going) will erase everything about its former glory.
You can catch a fleeting glimpse of Bradley's in this clip of NYC jazz clubs of the 1990's -- many of which are also gone. Watch for it at about 06:19 minutes in.
Not a lot preamble necessary for this one. I randomly stumbled across this clip on YouTube and felt compelled to share it here.
Initially filmed for a cable access television program called "Inner Tube" (which I wrote about back here in 2011), herewith the mighty Circle Jerks -- in their original line-up, no less -- performing at the Mudd Club in 1981.
Today, the Cirlce Jerks are no more (vocalist Keith Morris now sings with OFF!, Greg Hetson plays with Bad Religion, Roger Rogerson is dead, and I have no idea what Lucky Lehrer is doing). The Mudd Club at 77 White Street is also no more, having closed in 1983. In 2014, the building that was the Mudd Club is now a pricey condo.
Hey all, just a quick one. I'm actually sequestered out on the `Island for a while with limited computer access, so bear with me.
During my two-month hiatus, my comrade Drew sent me the video below, and I've meant to put up a post about it ever since.
This October will mark the eight-year anniversary of the closing of CBGB at 315 Bowery, a milestone that prompted much gnashing of teeth in many circles (including mine). The shuttering of the fabled rock club, endearingly squalid dive bar and ground zero of Punk Rock has since come to serve as a telling signifier of the transformation of New York City. That its address has since been co-opted by a bespoke clothier only reinforces that. The Bowery is a different place. Downtown is a different place. New York City is a different place. Those are just the facts.
Since CB's demise, the already robust mythology that surrounded it has only flourished (no thanks to a truly abortive film from 2013 about same, but the less said about that, the better). An invocation of a night of CBGB now comes grittily entrenched in the artful imagery of dimly lit urban decay, the insouciant cool of bohemia, the whiff of an anything-goes frontier and the palpable threat of violence. The name conjures up pictures like those found in Bri Hurley's "Making a Scene," a striking photographic document of the New York hardcore community (that's one of her shots above), or like the iconic image below of the No Wave all-stars... portraits of romantic characters existing on the edge of society.
Truth is, of course, not every night at CB's was like that. Not every show at 315 Bowery warranted the punk pageantry. Hell, in its last several years of operation, the booking policy at CBGB really wasn't that adventurous, nor did it attract room-filling big names. Even during its 70's and 80's heyday, some shows at CBGB were just that... shows. No one got stabbed. No one showed up with a mohawk. No cops were punched. It was just another night at one of the city's live music venues.
Below is another clip by Nelson Sullivan, the intrepid videographer I've written about before, who presciently made a point to document as much of his life on video as he could (prior to his untimely death). In this clip, Sullivan attends a record release party at the CBGB Record Canteen (remember that?) for Binky Philips, a somewhat-less-celebrated scene veteran, CB's regular and self-described "also-was." As an event, it's fairly low on thrills, but the video provides a tantalizing glimpse back at the scene circa 1987.
Watch for a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo of the cover of Killing Joke's Brighter Than a Thousand Suns amid the record racks.
These days, CBGB is the afore-cited John Varvatos boutique and the space that was the CBGB Record Canteen is now a Patagonia, for all your pricey, outdoorsy gear needs.
Way back in February, I put up a little post about a dimly remembered neighborhood artifact, that being the dinosaur that used to stand atop what is now Continental (then Continental Divide) on Third Avenue at St. Marks Place. I remembered it as being a free-standing sculpture of a brontosaurus, but didn't hold out a great deal of hope that anyone would have a photo of it.
Just last week, however, photographer Susan Fensten (whose work you might remember from this post) posted a photo of her father John Fensten's from the 1980's on Facebook It might be a little hard to make out, but this is a shot of Third Avenue at St. Marks Place. From right to left, that Optimo is now The E Smoke Shop. That pizza parlor (boy do I miss that) became a Chickpea then back to a pizza place and is now a diner-y spot called Archie & Sons (which is supposedly not bad, or so I've been told). To the left of that is Continental Divide. You can make out the brontosaurus on the signage, although I want to say there was one on the actual roof as well. Anyway, this is close as I'm probably going to get.
To the left of that is a joint called Dynasty. That's a McDonald's today. Does anyone remember Dynasty?
I've waxed nostalgic about the old Marquee club at 547 West 21st street a coupleof timeshere. It wasn't even there that long (maybe three years? maybe?), but it was somewhat of a crucial venue for me at the time.
Located way the hell over on the very western edge of Chelsea, it had virtually no neighbors during its tenure apart from a gay bondage club across the street called Zone DK. This was all the early 90's, you realize --- well prior to the advent Chelsea Piers, Giuliani's quality of life campaign, 9/11, the High Line and Bloomberg's era of hyper-gentrification.
In its incarnation as the Marquee, I was lucky enough to catch several live shows at 547 West 21st street. I'm sure I've listed them here before, but if memory serves, bands I saw play at the Marquee included Too Much Joy, Pylon, The Wonder Stuff, the La's, My Dad is Dead, The Wedding Present, the Milltown Brothers, the Butthole Surfers, the Rollins Band, the Lunachicks, Primus, 24-7 Spyz, Fatima Mansions, Julian Cope, the Kitchens of Distinction, Lush, Ride, Curve, Chapterhouse, The House of Love, Swervedriver, Ned's Atomic Dustbin, Blur, Senseless Things, Pigface, Limbomaniacs, The Sundays, The Charlatans, Mr. Bungle, Birdland and Pop Will East Itself. Actually, the very first time I ever set foot in the place, it was still called Sonic, and I was there to see a little known band (at the time) called Nine Inch Nails.
For whatever reason, the Marquee closed sometime in the almost-mid-90's and morphed into a Latino dance club called El Flamingo --- `cos, ya know, we needed another one of those. For the remainder of the 90's, if I'm not mistaken, El Flamingo played host to a discofied re-imagining of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" called "The Donkey Show." Suffice to say, I never went.
Anyway, I addressed all of this in earlier posts. Back in 2012, I walked back over to that end of West 21st street with my little boy Oliver and snapped a picture of its incarnation as a comparatively whisper-quiet art gallery.
Well, earlier this week, I had a little time on my hands while strolling through Chelsea and once again found myself walking west on 21st street, the sounds of countless 90's bands like those listed above filling my head. As I approached, however, that elusive "sense of place" I've spoken about before was pretty much all gone, ..... as was the building that once housed that art gallery, El Flamingo and before it...The Marquee.
Already looming high above West 21st Street is a brand new development where 547 (and the building to its west) used to stand. It certainly doesn't look that impressive now, but 551 West 21 bills itself as "sharp and crisp and as subtle, luminous and dramatic as a perfectly cut diamond" and "like a villa in the sky."
Where once this street was defined by its quiet desolation, it will now be (yet another) buzzing hive of affluents. Who can afford to live in these places?
Anyway, I doubt I'll find myself taking any more nostalgic walks down West 21st street ever again. As such, here's another taste of the past. I was actually at this show. Here's the Lunachicks at the Marquee in November of 1990....
The other day, you may remember, I posted the vintage photograph above by one Charles Steiner of a gaggle of punks holding court at the bar of former Bowery haunt Great Gildersleeves circa 1983, and asked if anyone could name the players involved.
As I mentioned, the gent in the "I GOT SHIT FOR BRAINS" shirt is inarguably the great Cheetah Chrome of the Dead Boys, and I postulated that the dude on the far left is tough-guy character actor Clancy Brown (although I could be mistaken). A reader named G, meanwhile, recently wrote in with more. G writes...
I believe red-bandana guy is the late Bobby Snots, singer from the Whorelords.
Blue-bandana guy, I don't know, but the girls look familiar.
I'd head the name Whorelords before, most recently as read about in the exhaustively detailed Misfits biography, "This Music Leaves Stains" (if you're a fan of Messrs. Danzig, Only, Doyle, Steele et al., it's a total must-read), but I'd never heard them before. A quick Google search turned up the video below, seemingly tailored to inducing vertigo and/or nausea (hit "play" to find out what I mean).
The guy at the mic does indeed resemble red-bandana guy. See what you think.
You'll have to forgive me, people. As I mentioned in my hiatus-breaking post, I am indeed back, but it might be a little while before I re-find my sea legs, so to speak. There's a lot happening on the home front, and I'm just not myself these days. I'm afraid I've lost a bit of my mojo. So, anyway, bear with me.
I do have a lengthier post in the works, though. In doing research for same, I did a Google image search and came up with the photograph below, which came embedded on this article about Greenwich Village history. The photo in question was evidently snapped by one Charles Steiner circa 1983 inside the late Bowery joint Great Gildersleeves (a since-vanished venue I wrote about back on this post).
At first glance, I was immediately able to identify Dead Boys guitarist and Flaming Pablum favorite Cheetah Chrome (he with the distinctive, bug-eyed stare and "I GOT SHIT FOR BRAINS" t-shirt), but who are the other figures?
I'm speculating, but the guy to Cheetah's right on the far-left hand side of the picture (with the light blue bandana around his head) looks disarmingly like actor Clancy Brown (who played the fearsome Kurgan in "Highlander," Captain Hadley in "The Shawshank Redemption" and bully Viking Lofgren in "Bad Boys."). Kinda looks like him, right?
But who the guy with the red bandana flippin' the subtle bird is, or the ladies in leather on the right? No clues. Any ideas?
And, should you need reminding, here's Cheetah Chrome just a block or so down from where the above photo was taken. Dead Boys at CBGBG in `77...
A little while back, I stumbled upon yet another cache of amazing vintage NYC photographs on Flickr, and put up a post here about it and around a few likely sites on Facebook. In short order, it made the rounds, getting picked up by a few of my fellow NYC bloggers and the like. I think that’s pretty awesome – I love that we’re all able to share this stuff. In the spirit of same, while I already link to it over on the bar to the left, I figured I might as well highlight my own Flickr pics again here as well. My photos may not be quite as spectacular, but I like’em. Maybe you will too.
I haven’t updated the page in a several years, but on it you’ll still find lots of familiar images. The sets of particular interest to readers of this blog would be Black & White, Vanished and Street Art. There’s also Flyers and Rock Shit for my fellow punk fans and geeky music obsessives.
In terms of things that really make my heart race, as pathetic as this may sound, there are few things that can compare with discovering a new cache of vintage photographs of New York City. I’ve found a couple in my day, and brought them to share with you here. It doesn’t happen too often, but every now and then, I strike oil. And it happened again today.
Given the recent amount of insane bullshit going on University Place (sudden closings to make way for luxury condos, etc.), I was scouring around the `Net for some old photos of the neighborhood that pre-date the bespoke influx, so to speak. That trail inevitably lead to Flickr, and suddenly to the work of one Patrick Cummins.
Everyone talks about how “gritty” New York City used to be, and it’s almost become this quaint little descriptor that people blithely toss around, but Cummins’ photographs hit you like a sooty, graffiti-slathered stone. His remarkably composed black and white shots of various city spaces can be chilling and stark, revealing a great city in decline. Suddenly, your eye fixes on some random architectural flourish or landmark, and you recognize the location. More than a few of these pictures had me positively gasping.