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.
Trying to keep track of changes on 8th Street seems like an exercise in futility, but I couldn't help noticing yesterday that they were clearing stuff out of Burger Creations between Mercer and Greene. Sure enough, despite its jaunty Halloween decorations, Burger Creations looks to be no more.
Can't say it's a great loss, actually. The creations in question left a bit to be desired.
Okay, just a quick silly one. You may remember a post from summer 2013 wherein I posted a couple of vintage pics of Joe Strummer lookin’ cool around NYC in honor of the fallen Clash leader’s birthday. In one of those pics — repurposed above — we saw Joe standing manfully in front of Carmine Street’s long-standing and endearingly stubborn enclave of vinyl purism, House of Oldies. If I had to wager, I'd suggest that said photograph was taken by long-time Clash pal and storied New Yorker, Bob Gruen, but I cannot be sure.
In any case, in a vain attempt at tiring them out, I took my kids out for another epic march around Manhattan yesterday, and as we were sauntering north on Carmine Street, we passed by House of Oldies, which reminded me of the Strummer pic. As such, here’s our tribute (with my little Charlotte looking suitably fatigued of these sorts of shenanigans)....
I've never really liked this song, but I discovered a new appreciation for "Jukebox" by the Flirts when spied its video, featuring some vintage shots of the Village, Carmine Street and ... yes ... the House of Oldies. I spoke about it at greater length here.
You might remember a quick post from 2013 wherein I showcased a photo of Iggy Pop on Houston Street circa 1984. That shot was taken by the late Ken Regan, a great rock photographer who passed away from cancer in 2012. In any case, stumbled upon another great photo of Mr. Pop taken by Mr. Regan, quite possibly shot on the same day. This is it.
Granted, it’s pretty hard to take a boring photo of Iggy, but this one spoke to me because of its location. If my calculations are correct (and this is the veritable QUINTESSENCE of goddamn trivia), Iggy is depicted facing east against the backdrop of the Washington Square Village superblock (which would possibly put him in 231 Mercer Street, but that’s just a guess). By the same token, given the uniformity of the two sides of Washington Square Village, he *could* be on the other side, facing east against the backdrop of LaGuardia Street. I’m leaning towards the former, though.
Quibbles aside, here’s an interesting little snippet I happened upon this evening whilst searching for some archival Iggy Pop footage. Evidently shot on New Year’s Day in 1995, this video follows three hirsute hepcats as they walk around the East Village of that bygone age, checking out local landmarks like Two Boots Pizza, the Gas Station and The Toy Tower on Avenue B.
Two Boots is still around (albeit in a different location), but the Gas Station and the Toy Tower are both long gone.
It’s a compelling-but-still-frustrating little clip in as much as I’d have rather they wasted less time and shot more material. Ah well, what can ya do? Enjoy the video...
I know many of you loyal readers probably think Facebook is a fatuous waste of time, and — honestly — you’re probably correct. That all said, there are some things to be found there that, in my opinion, do make it all worthwhile. If you’re a fan of the type of content you find here on Flaming Pablum, you’d do well to check out a group I’ve cited several times, that being Manhattan Before 1990, a very structured and orderly gaggle of folks fixated with images from NYC’s past. The photos I’ve encountered on same frequently stop me in my tracks. The one below is no exception.
As the discussion developed, a few of the group members thoughtfully provided images of 69 Bayard today — refreshingly not too different from the image Shore captured in the dead of night all those years ago.
Just a quickie, as I already wrote a sweeping post about the band back in 2007. In a nutshell, Surgery was this amazing band — originally from Hartford, Connecticut — who moved to NY fucking C to play gritty, fuck-you skronk rock ala contemporaries like Helmet, Prong, Unsane, Barkmarket and — wait for it — my beloved Cop Shoot Cop. As I mentioned in that earlier post, Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore once compared Surgery’s sound to a cross between Einsturzende Neubauten and Guns ’N’ Roses. Not sure how accurate that was, but it made for good copy.
I first heard Surgery, meanwhile, courtesy of my early 90’s East Village pals Steve McM. and Joanne H. — two rough-hewn hepcats who were on a tireless crusade to get to me to stop listening to the "pussy Anglo goth crap” I was digging at the time and get back into the harder stuff. Through Steve and Joanne, I was introduced to droves of cool new sounds, and routinely dragged to gigs at then-holes-in-the-wall like the Pyramid Club, The Cooler, the Lismar Lounge and a few other likely stops. Originally a rock writer like myself, Steve went onto roadie for SWANS before joining Cop Shoot Cop as their first guitar player, only to later jump ship and become a successful lawyer in Texas. Joanne, meanwhile, briefly played bass for an awesome local band called the Hot Corn Girls (featuring erstwhile members of The Chimpanzees and The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black), before getting married and leaving NYC.
Anyway, I did indeed dig Surgery’s Nationwide, but it wasn’t until Shimmer, their Atlantic Records debut (after being swept up in the major label feeding frenzy in the wake of Nirvana’s Nevermind) that I really locked in, largely thanks to the awesome, NYC-centric video for “Off The A-List."
Tragically, Surgery wouldn’t experience a similar career trajectory as Nirvana, as 29-year-old lead singer Sean McDonnell died from complications from asthma in 1995, leaving behind a distraught band who parted ways out of respect for their fallen leader.
Why am I bothering to bring this all this up now? Well, only because I noticed that someone had uploaded the video for “Off the A-List” back on YouTube after YEARS of inaccessibility. It’s great. Play it now, and then play it again.
Here's a clip from Nationwide...slightly lower-of-budget, but equally NY-centric. Check out the Gas Station in the opening moments...
Lastly, here’s a visceral, straight performance clip — possibly filmed at the Pyramid, if I’m not mistaken.
First up, let me just state for the record that I am not — nor have I ever been — a fan of Spandau Ballet. Don’t get me wrong — I have absolutely zero problems with foppish new romantic bands, but in those stakes, Duran Duran beats the Spandaus every damn time. That said, my wife remains an ardent supporter.
In any case, via my pal Tim B’s Stupefaction site, I learned there’s a sprawling documentary on Spandau Ballet in the works (or already completed…see trailer below). Spotting the poster image for same — the Spandaus dressed in typically ridiculous garb while blocking traffic on West 33rd Street in the shadow of Madison Square Garden — I felt an irrepressible urge to replicate it. After ducking and weaving through herds of corpulent Scandiewiegian tourists on the High Line this morning, my kids and I found ourselves in the neighborhood, so we gave it a go. Here are the fruits of our labors. I know this much is true.
Here are the details on the flick...
And, honestly, if pressed to name Spandau Ballet's greatest achievement, I'd say this trumps "True"...
Loyal readers might remember me waxing rhapsodic here a fewtimes about the fabled Blitz Benefit at CBGB in 1978. I didn’t attend the Blitz Benefit, mind you, as I was all of eleven years old at the time, but being a student of NYC rock lore, its significance isn’t lost on me (beyond my blather, you can read a more official account here, although Legs McNeil & Gillian McCain’s oral history, “Please Kill Me” probably handles it best). It’s the stuff of legend.
Well, scratch that. Via the churlishly named Altamont Records (“Hard to Find Rare T-shirts and Collectibles”), you can now buy yourself a Blitz Benefit t-shirt knockoff (albeit not in its original black, for some reason). No, I’m not buying one for myself. You can even buy a Blitz Benefit baby onesie.
Back in August, you may remember a quick post wherein my friend Howard Forbes spotted a fleeting cameo of pre-Bleecker Bob’s record store Bonaparte in the otherwise forgettable slasher flick, “The Last Horror Film.” Well, given Howard’s endearingly macabre predilections, he was recently watching another shlocky gore-fest (hey, someone’s got to), this being William Lustig’s “Maniac Cop” from 1988. In doing so, Howard spotted another long lost music shop (and longtime Flaming Pablum favorite), Rocks In Your Head. Evidently, the “opening assault scene” takes place right in front.
I’ve invoked SoHo’s Rocks In Your Head here numerous times. When I think back to the scores of since-vanished record and disc shops of Manhattan, it’s probably the first one that springs to mind. Everything about the place, to my mind, was perfect. Tucked away in a basement-level space off West Broadway, Rocks In Your Head felt like a furtive, underground lair for clandestine music procurement. The staff were gracious and cool (not stereotypical music snobs ala “High Fidelity”) and there was always something new to be heard therein. It was amazing.
These days, the space that had been Rocks In Your Head is now a real estate joint.
Here, meanwhile, is the trailer to "Maniac Cop." It’s a little fuzzy, but you can catch a glimpse of the scene in the beginning….
Late last week, Curbed linked back to a quick entry I’d posted about the impending demise of everything that’s cool about 190 Bowery, calling me a “nostalgia blogger” along the way. I suppose that’s technically sort of accurate, but I came away from that feeling a little short-changed. Earlier this week, meanwhile, after I posted an image of the newly re-designed fountains in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Facebook, a friend of mine flatly declared: “You miss everything.”
While I hate to think of myself as a flagrant nostalgist, I guess it must seem like I do genuinely miss everything (especially coupled with my disdain for so much of what’s new here in NYC).
In light of this, I thought I’d fly in the face of convention and cite six things about New York City that I DON’T miss. You, dear reader, will invariably beg to differ with at least one of these, but then — start your own list:
6. PUBLIC PAY PHONES They required a pocket-full of change, they were frequently broken, they were filthy and smelled like urine .. what’s not to dislike? As much as it's brought along a wide spectrum of new things to complain about, the advent of smartphones has rendered pay phones pretty useless, and that’s fine with me.
5. B. ALTMAN’S 365 Fifth Avenue (now the CUNY GRADUATE CENTER) If you’re a youngster, you probably don’t remember B. Altman’s, but it was a massive department store on Fifth Avenue just north of the Empire State Building. It’s not that I’m a big fan of its then-competitors like Gimbel’s, Macy’s, Bloomingdales and the like, but I remember shopping for school clothes at B. Altman’s with my mother and always having a miserable time. When it closed, my heart cheered.
4. “SEINFELD”/“FRIENDS”/"SEX AND THE CITY” Here’s where I really start alienating people. I’ve never given the single, slightest whiff of a good goddamn about any of these “quintessentially New York” shows. Bullshit, all three of ’em. “Seinfeld” is the most overrated sitcom in history, and the other two are so lamentable that taste and decorum forbid me going into detail here about how much I loathe them. It sucks that they all live on in syndication, but they all made me want to friggin’ move out of New York City with all goddamn speed. That douchey location tours, themed coffee shops and jello shot trivia contests have been spawned in their respective wakes only fuels my ire.
3. LE Q 36 East 12th Street (now a comparatively sedate antique emporium) This probably seems like a fairly obscure one, but it drove me insane. True crime fans might recognize the name as being the location of a notorious 1992 shooting by a Chinatown street gang called the Tung On Boys. I naively hadn’t heard about that particular crime when I moved into an apartment in a building across the street from it in 1996, but I doubt it would have stopped me anyway. Regardless, Le Q was a twenty-four-hour pool hall on East 12th between Broadway and University Place. During the day, it was pretty easy to ignore, but in the otherwise placid dead of night, you had cars parking outside with boomin' trunk-o’-funks, blasting hip hop at volumes that rattled the rafters. More worryingly, however, were the gang activities that still went down there, even years after the afore-cited 1992 shooting. One night, I heard a scuffle outside and ran to the window. From the relative safety of my living room, I watched what I can only assume was an initiation as at least thirty Asian teens brutally swarmed on one hopeful newbie outside of Le Q. They beat the tar out of him in a coldly-calculated spectacle that was both fascinating and horrifying. The departure of Le Q was a moment of great joy for the neighborhood.
2. THE TUNNEL 220 Twelfth Avenue (Not sure what’s there now) I know The Tunnel was a part of Peter Gatien’s notorious circuit of iconic NYC nightclubs that also included The Limelight and The Palladium, but I have to say that I was never a big fan of this particular establishment. I didn’t like the music they played. I didn’t like the scene and I certainly didn’t dig the crowd. I only went a couple of times, but it was never especially fun. I mean, techno and hip hop aren’t really my cups of tea to begin with, but beyond that, the vibe was just kinda unpleasant. I didn’t cry when it closed in 2001.
1. DEREK JETER Sorry. It’s nothing personal against the man…I just don’t give a SINGLE SHIT about professional sports. Never have. Never will. It means nothing to me.