Thursday, November 27, 2014

Eighty-two'ed

[This is merely an update to a previous post. Normally I just tack this kind of info to the end of my original post on the topic, but since this piece is somewhat lengthy, I figured I'd also give it a separate new post of its own. A harbinger of more fresh content to come, I sincerely hope!]




My ancient entry on Club 82 has probably gotten the most criticism of anything I've written here. Too short, too inaccurate, too inauthentic, too unauthoritative. I completely agree, and I'm grateful for all the real-deal first person stories left in the comments section by those lucky enough to have hung out there. [I mean jeez, when I wrote it I didn't even make the connection that Ron Wood's short-lived Woody's, which I'd been very much aware of during its existence, was in the Club 82 space. All I can do is apologize for lack of research oomph that day.] The Bedford + Bowery blog has also helped flesh out the club's story by running a couple of pieces about it over the past year: a mini oral history of the glitter period, and a peek at what occupies it now, the Bijou. Just a few days ago, a reader of this blog wrote a comment about the Bijou. It was accidentally left on an adjacent post about the Hotel Diplomat, so I'll just insert it here.

CLUB-82 OR THE BIJOU THEATRE TURNED INTO A GAY PORNO THEATRE IN THE 1990'S AND THEN CLOSED IN 2008 FOR RENOVATIONS. IT REMAINED SHUT FOR YEARS AND JUST REOPENED IN 2013 AGAIN AS A GAY -XXX- MOVIE THEATRE. THERE IS PLENTY OF SEX GOING ON DOWNSTAIRS IN THE BOOTHS AND NEARLY PITCH-BLACK GROPE ROOM. WALK-IN LEVEL IS THE MOVIE SCREEN WITH GAY PORN FILMS. DOWNSTAIRS MOANS 'N GROANS COME FROM EVERY ANGLE...LOAD-FILLED CONDOMS ARE STREWN ABOUT, EMPTY LUBE TUBES, POPPERS, EMPTY BOOZE BOTTLES AND THE OCCASIONAL STRAY DILDO !IT IS ONLY OPEN AT NIGHT (FROM 8 PM UNTIL 4 AM) ADMISSION IS $ 14.00 AND IT STILL HAS NO KNOWN TELEPHONE NO. IT'S KINKY, IT'S QUEER & IT'S FABULOUS !

I recently saw a Guitar Center Sessions show with Blondie, which dates from 2011, but was aired a few months ago on the nearest thing to a music documentary channel we have up here, AUX TV. There were interview segments in between the songs, and to my delight Club 82 was brought up. Since the whole show isn't online, I felt compelled to transcribe the discussion.  

Clem:  I saw the Stilettos play at Club 82, which made me become aware of the two of them [Debbie and Chris]. This Club 82 was around the corner from CBGB.
Chris:  The 82 Club was a fabulous scene. It was in a basement.
Clem:  No one ever talks about Club 82.
Deb:  It was such a great place.
Interviewer:  So let's talk about it.
Chris:  People were fascinated by it here and there, but generally it's not known.
Clem:  It was a gay sort of slash lesbian bar slash trans--
Chris:  It was a tranny bar. It was a transvestite bar.
Clem:  --combination anything goes type of bar, and I dunno if you know, like, in Times Square for instance, the dancers, like, y'know, the topless dancers would dance behind the bar on a platform. And they had a platform like that at Club 82, and that's where the bands would play. The bar would be here [gestures] and the bands would play behind the bar, whether it be the New York Dolls or Wayne County or these guys [the Stilettos]. And it was basically a dance club, y'know, that had rock and roll one night a week--what night was it, Wednesday night, right?
Chris:  Yeah, that sounds right.
Clem:  That was the rock night.
Chris:  And it was really, but it went way back, to probably even the 1940s. And they had pictures in the background, and there was a picture of Abbott and Costello with a drag queen, that had been taken at the club, and I always wanted to steal it but I regret that I probably didn't. But I dunno what happened to any of that stuff or any of those people.
Clem:  It had the aura of a speakeasy.
Chris:  Yeah, it was just great and funky and had fake palm trees and all this stuff. It was run by all these like hardcore butch old ladies.
Clem:  And all the music was dance music, except for when the New York Dolls or the Neon Boys would play. All the music was dance music otherwise, which kinda, I think it kinda made me get into dance music more, 'cause it was always in the background during punk rock, the way dance music and punk rock started, kinda started happening at the same time in a lotta ways.
Chris:  Yeah, sure.


And I suppose it should come as no surprise that the club is also lovingly mentioned in arguably THEE New York Rock Book of the Year, Paul Zone's Playground (New York: Glitterati, 2014). "Spending my nights at a place like Club 82 was better than anything the mainstream could have offered. It was a drag club in the sixties that became a glitter rock hangout in the early seventies without any redecorating: the ruffled glitter valence curtains, backdrop, and three-sided wraparound stage framed our glamorous icons perfectly."

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I kiss the City of New York

Ugh.  I promised myself that I’d make the blog a priority this year.  I even confessed this goal to my blogging buddy Tim B., as if e-mailing it aloud would hold me more accountable for my lack of actions.  I’m easily distracted.  First there was a whirlwind trip to Australia in April, centered around the Dig It Up festival (a.k.a. the Hoodoo Gurus Invitational) in Sydney, but also including some quality visits with rock and roll friends in Melbourne, who went above and beyond the call of duty not only in showing us a good time, but in showing me some rare Hollies archival material.  Once we got back, well, life just got in the way.  No difficult circumstances really--if anything I’ve just been blissed out and having too much fun in my spare time to focus on this calling.  I’ve done some preliminary research on a few places (one of which, in another bit of weird synchronicity, Tom Finn of the Left Banke recently asked me about out of the blue), but I've been having trouble following through and digging deeper. 

What’s probably really holding me back is a feeling that StreetsYouCrossed may have outlived its usefulness.  I started this blog at a time when I sensed there was a dearth in deep coverage of NYC’s rock and roll history.  But in the ensuing years, many folks have stepped up to fill that void--and since most of them were actual denizens of the vintage scenes I wanted to document, they fill it in a much finer and more first-person manner than I’m capable of achieving.  I’m particularly fond of the Facebook groups that have proliferated and brought many gregarious old-timers out of the woodwork.  Lessee, reeling the ones I can remember belonging to off the top of my head, there’s NY Rocks, New York Rock and Roll Explorer, Academy of Music/Palladium, Night Owl, Coney Island High, Brownie's, the Peppermint Lounge (‘80s incarnation), Steve Paul’s the Scene, Fillmore East, Schaefer Music Festival, Twisted Sister in the Clubs, Long Island Clubs of the ‘80s, CBGB (the movie’s a turkey by the way, trust me), Max’s, My Father’s Place, Lone Star CafĂ©, The Ritz, NYHC Chronicles.  There may be others I belong to, and there are certainly dozens more I don’t know about.  All are superb repositories of memory and memorabilia, collected and shared by the people who were there, and who often were deeply involved in the operation of the clubs—or who just hung out at them A LOT. Me, I was at a few of those places, but hardly an entrenched scenester or insider.  I’ve never claimed to be an authoritative voice on my chosen topic—I’m at best an eager student, at worst a lowly peon fangirl—but let’s just say that lately I’ve been feeling less authoritative than ever in the face of all the collective expertise I read daily on these fine FB groups and elsewhere on the ol' Internets.  Can I work past this?  I hope so, because I know the subject has yet to be exhausted, even with all the increased focus upon it.



So, I never chimed in with a good-last-drop Maxwell’s tribute.  Again, despite its undeniable homespun magic and the many great times I had there, I was hardly a regular.  It was a schlep to get to from Queens, and often the bands I wanted to see were doing a more convenient show in town a day before or after.  But every now and then I was compelled to brave the long walk from the PATH, or the search for a parking spot, and head for Hoboken's haven.  A recent show I went to here in T.O. reminded me of one of those grand schleps.  The Maxwell's show it reminded me of happens to have been one of my top ten rock and roll experiences of all time, if I were truly the type who was into ranking such things.  And in turn, the moment that inspired the reminiscing must also join those hypothetical top ten ranks.  Here’s a long-ass FB/tumblr post I wrote about it, from a gal who doesn’t write long-ass status updates as a rule. 

OK, I don’t normally do longwinded status updates on FB but I am MOVED!  So after much debate (we just saw her six months ago, it’s freakin’ 50 bucks, we’ve already seen her and Lenny on separate occasions in the past, aaaaaaargh), we decided to bite the bullet and see Patti Smith.  It’s going well, obviously more rock and roll than the acoustic set earlier this year, but still, I could tell Rocky was getting a little sleepy due to the mostly mid-tempo-to-slower numbers they were doing (which I loved though—Dancing Barefoot, Redondo Beach, Break It Up, among others).

For a while I did find it odd that, while she was beautifully lit, the rest of the band was somewhat in the dark.  I was like, jeez, that’s Lenny Kaye, I don’t think of him as some sideman, he should be lit too—they ALL should be. Then about midway through, she takes a backstage break and lets Kenny Laye take over for a while (sorry, a good buddy of mine once dubbed him that and I’ll always think of him that way as a result).  He says stuff about being a music historian, about how much of an honor it is to play the same stage where “Jazz at Massey Hall” was recorded, and how they were gonna play a few numbers in honor of his favorite Toronto bands, the Paupers and Luke and the Apostles.  If he was aware that Luke and the Apostles were doing a show across town at the Cadillac that very night, he didn’t betray that knowledge.  He used his well-worn but always delightful “It’s a Nugget if you dug it” line (yes, I’ve seen him MC at way too many Cavestomps to mention), then he and the band launch into possibly the most ferocious and feral five minute garage barrage I have heard in my life: Talk Talk, Open Up Your Door (every bit as wyld as seeing Richard and the Young Lions themselves do that one TWICE at Maxwell’s close to 15 years ago), Open My Eyes (how did he know I’ve been listening to a ton of Todd Rundgren lately?), Psychotic Reaction.  We got as mental as it’s possible to be in a gallery seat in that hallowed hall.  Who knows, this may be a regular segment in all PSG shows, but I absolutely did not see that one coming.  "Worth the price of admission!" I hollered in Rocky’s ear and he concurred.  It would’ve been worth it even if they hadn’t pulled out the stops when Patti came back out (Piss in the River, Land segue-ing into Gloria, Rock and Roll N-woid, etc.). Afterwards, we considered schlepping over to the Cadillac just to see if Lenny would show up and join in…but given Patti’s frequent references to TIFF I assumed they’d be going to a TIFF-related party if they went anywhere at all.  I may kick myself later if I hear otherwise.

One thing that did surprise Rocky especially—she didn’t mention Allen Lanier at all.  Anyway, I’d give my eyeteeth for video of those five minutes, ‘cause for me it was as monumental as any landmark Massey Hall event.      



Besides Patti, T.O. has seen a surfeit of rock and roll legends over the last few weeks.  Since the Riot Fest site was only about five blocks away from our house, we couldn’t resist it and its headliners, the Stooges and the Replacements.  The ‘Mats were really good, but not quite as Second Coming-esque as some writers would lead you believe.  (Local rockabilly Christian D. wrote a more relatable take.)  Almost as close to our home, and even closer to my heart, was the Rascals’ two-week stand at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in August.  I can’t adequately express how excited I was when I first saw the Big Pussy-voiceovered TV ads for this event back in June.  Part of me really wanted to go down to see ‘em at the first Capitol Theatre shows last December, and the April Broadway stint—but I gotta admit, I was sort of put off by the “theatrical/multimedia” aspect.  Look, I dig Little Steven, I also dug him back when he was Miami Steve, I’ve been to many of the Cavestomp events he co-sponsored with Jon Weiss, I went to his Randall’s Island fest and loved it, I've purchased Wicked Cool releases, I respect how he put his money where his mouth was regarding the garage scene, and lord knows Silvio Dante Forever.  His heart’s in the right place fer sure, but sometimes the execution can be off—such as go-go dancers moving more like strippers, that sort of thing.  It was much easier to put aside my apprehensions about the visuals and bells and whistles of Once Upon a Dream, not to mention the potential “nostalgic cash grab/retirement fund” angle, when I heard I could actually WALK a half-mile down the road to see my beloved Rascals.  We went on the second night, figuring they would have worked out any kinks from the opening, yet still be fresh and somewhat enthusiastic about T.O..  When all was said and done, I could take or leave the visuals—they were fun but didn’t add that much to the proceedings, and at times they felt a little awkward and unnatural, a stiff counterpart to the banter you’re used to hearing at a rock show.  However, I respect the attempt to differentiate this show from your typical Oldies Night, for above all bands, the Rascals certainly deserve a unique setting.  All I really cared about was the music, and on that they exceeded my wildest expectations of excellence.  I may be a deluded sap, but I didn’t feel any pandering, insincerity, or old codgers going through the motions jive.  They played damn near every song you might wanna hear, they killed it, nay SLAYED it, and I was truly feeling it all the way up in my nosebleed seat.  I kinda liked being up there actually—I had my opera glasses for close-ups, and with all the venerable plaster mouldings and comedy/tragedy masks and chandeliers and stuff surrounding us, I could squint and feel like I was at the Fillmore East.  We exited through a side door, which made me forget to check the lobby merch table.  Afterwards, I found out that an expensive Visual Biography was for sale, lavishly loaded with luscious vintage pics…so a couple of days later, before checking out the splendid A Band Called Death at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, I went back and sweet-talked an usher into letting me enter the Alex's lobby real quick so's I could satisfy that pricey urge.  Anyway, I’ve been on cloud nine ever since the show, gorging myself on Rascals interviews and ephemera, delving deeply even into the band’s later forays in jazz-funk territory…and developing a serious Felix fixation that’s starting to rival my Hicks-xation. Looks-wise, nowadays he kinda reminds me of my dad, but his voice and musicianship are utterly, gloriously intact.  I’ve always found vintage Felix to be handsome and of course I adored his voice, but it took seeing and hearing the gent in the flesh to finally grok his sexational side.  At any rate, all these old-timer shows have been so wonderful that I feel compelled to go to a few more, just to see if the streak will last. Seeing the Selecter tonight at Lee's, just got tickets for Brian Wilson/Jeff Beck at the end of October, and am seriously considering Hawkwind in a couple of weeks. 
      



Blog-relevant ebay finds!


Speaking of TIFF, thanks to a generous and well-connected friend who was so insistent I go see it that he gave me some free vouchers, I watched the Hendrix biopic All Is By My Side at the Film Festival last weekend.  Deeply flawed, yet somehow doesn’t suck.  And the first scene takes place at the Cheetah.  Dig this article about Linda Keith which appeared in the Guardian last week.

By all means, pick up Ken Sharp’s essential Nothin’ to Lose: The Making of KISS, 1972-1975.  And dig these links:

Long Island Club Locations, compiled and photographed by a fella on one of the many FB groups about Flushing.



Time Out NY article on legendary clubs and parties.

Nightclubbing is now on the Bedford + Bowery blog, a subsidiary of New York mag.  B + B has also done a few articles on vintage East Village spots, like the Academy of Music, and oooh, today they just published a piece on the Electric Circus!

Lastly, while I heard about the Rock Junket tour company a while back, I didn't realize until quite recently that head honcho Bobby Pinn also wrote a companion book.  I haven't finished reading it yet, but so far it's quite entertaining and handy. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

My dream is on the screen

Debbie, Chris, and Will Hermes at the NYPL, March 27, 2013. Starts at around the 13 minute mark.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Down at the Rock and Roll Club

Brendan Toller, director of the upcoming Danny Says, did a great interview on Dave the Spazz's show last week, and was featured in the Village Voice blog a few days ago.  Just now when I went to get the link for that, I noticed the V.V. blog also did a recent piece on John Joseph's Lower East Side walking tours.

Get dishpan hands at the Norton Records Wash-a-Thon tonight if you can --or if you're not local, drop a few Paypal'ed bucks into their Superstorm Sandy recovery fund.

Via the Bomp List Bookshelf Facebook group, I was hipped to this vintage piece on Lou Reed by Bruce Pollock, and learned that memoirs from Marty Thau and Richard Hell are due to be published soon.  And speaking of those fellas--while browsing at Sonic Boom the other day I chanced upon a DVD entitled Punk Revolution NYC, which I couldn't recall hearing about before.  (Indeed, even after I bought it on impulse, I could find only two reviews for it on the entire internet.)  I've only watched the first disc so far (it's a two-disc, three-hour-tour production), but it's quite a thorough documentary, covering the NYC punk scene from its proto- to prime eras. The film has a pretty straightforward format--i.e., interview segment/performance clip/interview segment/archival photo display/interview segment--but all the clips are well-chosen and they talk to many of the right people.  (I didn't see any Talking Heads among the talking heads though.  Have I made that dumbass joke before in regard to another vintage punk documentary?  Probably.)  Here's an excerpt from it, about the NYC scene's influence on the U.K.



I devoured the new Peppermint Twist book in a matter of hours.  It's more of a mob story than a music book (in fact, I think Chapters and Indigo are shelving it under True Crime), and it also seems to focus more on the Miami Peppermint Lounge than the New York original.  That was O.K. by me, as it put me in the right frame of mind to watch the episodes of Magic City that my great buddy Flipped Out loaned to us....but still, as much as I enjoyed the behind-the-scenes tough stuff, I would have preferred a bit more emphasis on the hip-swiveling happenings within both clubs.  (As is my wont, I've also gotta nitpick on a factual error I noticed very early on in the text--Vernon and Irene Castle were husband and wife, not "a popular brother-sister dance team"!)




Coincidentally, and further to that picture of the Action House included in my last post, here's a quote from Chris Dreja which I saw in Light and Shade: Conversations with Jimmy Page:  "The people who ran the promotions, especially in America, were mainly mafia.  I remember playing Vanilla Fudge's club in Long Island and being introduced to truly menacing people who were eight feet tall, with chewed up ears and smashed-in faces, and had names like Vinnie."

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Action, Action, Action

Hallelujah--I've finally seen a picture of the Action House.  It was sold on ebay recently, but I caught it through a cross-posting on the Long Island and NYC Places That Are No More Facebook group.  Now all we need are some interior shots and performance pics.



A Great Gildersleeves reunion show will be held at the Delancey on Saturday, Nov. 3.

On November 11, Anthology Film Archives will be holding a screening and panel discussion on the movie Get Crazy, as a benefit for the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.  This flick has truly eluded me--I barely heard of it prior to seeing an announcement for the event on the Fillmore East Archives FB page, other than the lousy review it got in the Hollywood Rock book.  Apparently it was a staple on '80s cable, but of course, I grew up in a cable-deprived household.  I rectified this by watching an upload of it on Youtube the other day. While it doesn't hold a candle to Arkush's masterpiece Rock and Roll High School, and I felt very little of the Fillmore East-inspired vibe I was expecting after the build-up of the GVSHP site's description, the flick definitely has its moments of trashy fun, not to mention a mind-bending anti-star-studded cast.

Of course you've heard that Kenny's Castaways closed down, as did Gimme Gimme Records.

For the past few days the NYC blog set has been creaming its jeans over Jeremiah's post on  Dead_Dolly's East Village flickr collection, with good reason.  One photo in her set inspired Alex at Flaming Pablum to ruminate on the Gas Station.  Also check out the pics Jeremiah posted of the now-empty Colony.

As per usual, I'm up to my ears in rock and roll books--but they seem to be coming out at an unusually rapid and prolific pace these days, no?  Only two of my more recent reads were of a New York-ish nature. I started Dick Porter's and Kris Needs' Parallel Lives, but had to set it aside for a while when more time-sensitive doorstop-sized titles (like the Neil Young and Pete Townshend memoirs) came in from the library. In the foreword, Porter and Needs write that they're working on a third book about a New York band, to complete the trifecta they began with their Dolls bio--care to hazard a guess on which band that could be?  The other book was Carol Miller's Up All Night, and I must thank Stupefaction's Tim B. for the tip. Although my musical tastes and radio habits eventually expanded far beyond AOR, I grew up with That Voice, and it was such a gas to learn more about her life and career. I especially loved her account of her Queens childhood and Long Island adolescence, and the conflict between her straitlaced/studious Jewish upbringing and the wicked lures of rock and roll--I ain't Jewish, but could still totally relate!  (Also learned a fun geographic fact--there is a 108th Street in Richmond Hill.  That road is the nearest main drag from my childhood home in Corona, but I always thought it ended at Queens Blvd. and 71st-Continental--who knew it had an extension south of Forest Park? Speaking of Corona, I had another fuzzed-out Facebook moment when I stumbled upon this photo album of a local '60s garage band called the Change-In-Tymes! Cool-ass stuff like that was long gone by the time I was a resident, I tell ya.)

And I'll close off with another thanks to Tim B. for locating a fine time-portal to the entrance of Hurrah.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Colonize your mind

I have been lazy and uninspired as all get out, but I thought I'd round up some random bits of "news" that I've taken note of over the last couple of months.

You've surely heard about the imminent closure of the Colony by now.  If not, check out JVNY, the Post, the News, the TimesGothamist, and WQXR.

Speaking of record store closings, the Capital New York site presented a half-hour documentary about Bleecker Bob`s last month, entitled For the Records. (The site also had a post about the Colony a couple days ago.)

And while we're on the subject of bygone eras in NYC record shopping, this ain't news, but it was new info to me.  A couple of weeks ago, Norton co-honcho/A-Bones lead shouter Billy Miller told a great story about Second Avenue-centric rekkid retail on his FB page. I'd never heard about this before, but in the early '70s, one of the best and most economical places to score records was situated right across the street from the Fillmore East.  And it wasn't really a record store in the traditional sense, though at the time the neighborhood was chock full of them--Billy mentioned such shops as Free Being, Hall Place Music, and Gramophone, and noted that most secondhand bookshops in the area sold records too.  But this joint was different, and was way more wallet-friendly than most. It was a drop off center/thrift shop type of place run by Guru Maharaj Ji's Divine Light Mission.  Apparently, new converts to the Mission were obliged to shed all their worldly possessions when they joined, and those cast-off material goods wound up here, priced to move.  LPs, even double albums, sold for a dime.  Surprisingly, Billy didn't mention the cost of 45s, but I imagine they went for pennies.  And the demographics of the devotees must've been ideal.  At a time when he was just discovering the wylder side of '50s and '60s rock and roll, Billy purchased several hundred primo platters there on the super-cheap--and anything he didn't dig could be re-sold to unsuspecting school pals at a tidy profit.  Anybody know a mantra that could reincarnate such a divoon record nirvana today?

On a near-weekly basis since June, the Times' Local East Village blog has been hosting excellent posts by the Nightclubbing ladies, Emily Armstrong and Pat Ivers.

When you've had your fill of Nightclubbing's late '70s punk video, you can listen to Ira Robbins discuss the '77 NYC scene with Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot, on last week's episode of WBEZ-Chicago's Sound Opinions.  You may also want to hear the previous week's installment, which featured Jon Savage discussing '77-era London.

LastlyPeppermint Twist: The Mob, the Music, and the Most Famous Dance Club of the '60s, by John Johnson Jr. and Joel Selvin with Dick Cami, is due in November.