Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Strong to the finich

POPEYE'S SPINACH FACTORY--2301 Emmons Avenue, Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. Apparently this joint was originally a bar/restaurant (presumably serving seafood, given the location) called the Lewis House. The name was changed to Popeye's in the early '70s; later monikers were Davy Jones' Locker and Captain Walter's. During the Popeye's period the bar offered live music seven nights a week, but the only "cool" gig I've thus far found is the Dictators on March 29 and 30, 1974. The first night of this two-night stand is particularly notable--it marked the coronation of HDM as King of Men, as explained in this Punk Magazine article by John Holmstrom and Mark Rosenthal:

Popeye's was a derelict bar in Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn. The clientele should have gone to Alcoholics Anonymous. The bar tried live rock'n'roll to boost business. The Dogs (who still play in Los Angeles), opened the night. The late great Eric Emerson fronted the Dogs. The Dictators played their usual set--Fireman's Friend, Master Race Rock, Backstreet Boogie, Back to Africa, Weekend. Adny asked Richard Blum, one of their roadies, to come up on stage. He slammed into "Wild Thing," giving one of the great live performances of that song in this century, despite the fact that he had never set foot on a stage before in his whole life except to fix the mikes or set up the drums wrong. Something happened. All the bums in the bar--proud to see a fellow derelict make it big--went NUTS. They liked this degenerate so much they started climbing the bar stools, throwing bottles, and screaming for more, more, more! They danced and ranted and raved--not realizing that Handsome Dick Manitoba was born.

Debbie Harry also recounts the event in Making Tracks: The Rise of Blondie (London: Elm Tree Books, 1982; reprint New York: Da Capo, 1998):

One night Eric [Emerson], Chris [Stein], and Barbara [Winter, ex- of Edgar and Eric's girlfriend] went to see the Dictators at Popeye's Spinach Factory in Brooklyn. Eric got raging drunk, jumped up onstage with the Dogs, and tore his shirt off. Then the Dictators came onstage and their big fat roadie jumped on too and sang "Wild Thing." That was Dick Manitoba. Everybody in the room was completely drunk. It was like a fraternity party.

Haven't found any other bands/dates, but I suppose few could top such a spectacle anyhow. Lord only knows what stands at this address today.

In other "news"--found this item in Michael Pollack's "F.Y.I" column in the New York Times' City section this past Sunday, 9/11/2005:

Q. I see that Judge Crater is back in the news, with a Queens woman claiming that her husband was told who killed the judge. Is it true, as I've often heard, that Judge Crater had something to do with Roseland ballroom?

A. Actually, he did. Judge Joseph Force Crater's disappearance on Aug. 6, 1930, is still a mystery, as the police have found no evidence backing up the lastest allegations. But his connection to Roseland, at 239 West 52nd Street, is no mystery.

The ballroom began life as a skating rink. As recounted by the architectural historian Christopher Gray, in 1916 a company called Iceland leased an old roller rink on Broadway at 53rd Street and converted it for ice skating. Judge Crater, a powerful Tammany lawyer, was one of the three original incorporators.

In 1922 Iceland built a new rink around the corner on 52nd Street, west of Broadway. Roseland Dance City was founded about that time in the old Iceland space on Broadway, and moved in 1956 to the Iceland building on 52nd Street, where the rink was converted for dancing. There is no record that Judge Crater ever skated at Iceland

1 comment:

Phil Bruskin said...

Good Stuff always interested in any former glorys of long gone NYC punk or glam rock bars and clubs