Sunday, December 10, 2006

Exploding Plastic Shower Curtains Inevitable

On a brief trip over Veteran's Day weekend, I saw that the awning at 315 Bowery had already been stripped off, while a sign for this establishment was newly in place at the former home of the Dom/Electric Circus. From the Times:

Just a handful of blocks from the old club on the Bowery, there’s a new CBGB in town, at 23 St. Marks Place. But instead of pushing punk rock bands, this one sells memorabilia, from camouflage T-shirts and plastic shower curtains to baby bibs and doggie clothes, all bearing the club’s logo.

The neat ground-floor space with black walls and clean, folded wares offers a sharp contrast to the grimy nightspot. For Hilly Kristal, CBGB’s 75-year-old owner, the two-week-old store is the “flagship” of an effort to make money and to experiment with the brand while working on reopening the club, probably in Las Vegas.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Break it up

More elegies.

Times, replete with photos, video and PDFs of vintage articles.

NY Post.

Daily News.

The coverage in Newsday was rather extensive.

Voice slide show by Tricia Romano, & comments from readers, some obnoxious, some reverential.

BBC Heaven, CBC schmeaven.



The Guardian.

New York Mag.

Moby. (required reading--thanks clr!!!).


The Bowery B'hoy looked at Johnny, Johnny wanted to run, but the movie kept moving as planned...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Boogie Down Seductions, etc.

Read this excellent NY Times article on the long-lost music scene of Morrisiana while you can.

While you're at it, might as well patronize the Continental soon before it starts catering strictly to the turntablist set this summer. Speaking of lost punk dives, click here for loads of City Gardens memorabilia.

I've had a longtime video lending exchange program going with my dear friends Flipped Out and Sophie. Among the treasures they've loaned me are their DVDs of the Naked City TV series. The movie has long been one of my faves, and while the TV show's stories aren't always as super-engaging as that film's plot, its priceless location shots totally capture the look and feel of early-'60s NYC. Various rock & roll landmarks have even made their way into some shots. An episode entitled "The Fault in Our Stars," featuring Roddy McDowall as a psycho-killer actor, had an extended scene at the Cafe Bizarre, the beatnik (as opposed to beat) hangout/future Velvet Underground gig spot. Another episode, "The Face of the Enemy," had many scenes on Second Avenue, with the Anderson Theater, a neon sign for Club 82, Loew's Commodore, Thau's Restaurant, and Ratner's clearly visible. And a previous episode whose title escapes me included a fight scene outside of Slugger Ann, the bar owned by Jackie Curtis' grandmother. Other buildings crucial to my personal mythology, like the Hunter dorms (my alma mater housing) and Sunnyside Gardens (where my parents had some early dates), have also shown up as background. There are eight million stories...

New material to come soon, I promise...but between estate administration, DJ-ing at CIUT, and constant listening to Gene Pitney records, it hasn't been easy to carve out a spare moment for research.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Dive into this

In one fell swoop I went from having my work cut out for me to having the work done for me. Enjoy this terrific site on the Cheepskates and that hotbed of '80s garage action, The Dive (257 W. 29th Street). See also the East Coast Mod Scene Archive yahoogroup for more stories and photos.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

More Diplomacy

Further pieces of the Hotel Diplomat puzzle were found in a cheapo book I picked up recently at the Strand--Times Square and 42nd Street in Vintage Postcards, by Randall Gabrielan (Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia, 2000). Beside a ca. 1911 postcard of the building is the following caption:

New York Lodge No. 1 of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks opened its 43rd Street clubhouse in 1911, a time when fraternal organizations were enjoying rising membership and growing financial capabilities. The architect of this 14-story, Neo-Classical structure was James Riley Gordon, who had earlier designed the Elks' Bronx lodge. The facility, with 240 rooms and a main ballroom with a 32-foot-high ceiling, was, in effect, a city hotel for visiting Elks. The Depression hit fraternal organizations hard. Their business diminished while they retained major operating expenses, the likely cause for its 1932 opening to public guests and a 1934 foreclosure. The place was later a modest-priced hotel, first the Delano, then the Diplomat, and in time, a single-room occupancy hotel for long-term residents. The hotel was acquired by real estate interests and demolished c. 1990 for inclusion in a prime development assemblage.

The Diplomat also gets a brief mention in another recent read--James Traub's The Devil's Playground: A Century of Pleasure and Profit in Times Square (New York: Random House, 2004). Anita Durst, a theater artist and member of the Durst real estate family, once put on a play there:

Like many shy people, Anita fell in love with acting. Unlike most of the others, she had a father who owned Broadway theaters...He [Douglas Durst] allowed her to use the semi-defunct Diplomat Hotel, on West 43rd Street, for a play called The Law of Remains, in which, Anita says, "Andy Warhol and Jeffrey Dahmer meet in Heaven." They play was apparently based on The Egyptian Book of the Dead. The hotel had a series of splendid, haunted-looking ballrooms. "The big ballroom was Heaven," Anita says, "and God was a Puerto Rican drag queen with an erection."

Her grandfather Seymour was a passionately voracious collector of books about New York City. Upon his death his collection was bequeathed to the CUNY Graduate Center to form their Seymour B. Durst Old York Library. Would that I were a CUNY student again and could peruse those riches.

The Devil's Playground also offers some further info on the International Casino, precursor to Bond's:

The International Casino was the last word in refinement, luxe, and swank. Here is how a reporter described the opening, in September 1937: "Hollywood on Broadway...a glittering gallimaufry of chromium and glass, crystal fountains, sliding doors, revolving stages, staircases which descend from heaven (when they work), a stainless steel escalator and a three story spiral bar, where you can drink your way up and fall your way down, or vice versa, as befits your mood." Life magazine did one of its "Life Goes to a Party" series about the International soon after it opened, and the author noted, with what seems admirable candor for a family magazine, that "most people go to the International Casino to see a hundred odd youngish girls in various states of undress." The article's opening photo spread shows a glistening chrome escalator with a tuxedoed headwaiter standing at the top, and then half a dozen beauties in two-piece bathing suits balancing spinning plates on long rods. Inside, Life offered pictures of bathing beauties descending from the ceiling in an elaborate trapezelike contraption and another riding bareback on a revolving stuffed horse.

The book also contains an extremely poignant chapter on the last Howard Johnson's, entitled "A la Recherche des Fried Clams Perdus," which I'd urge all clam-diggers to read.

Lastly for this the work of thee Steve Paul?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

How Diplomatic

All apologies for not posting--been otherwise occupied as of late.

Came across a couple of references to the Hotel Diplomat recently. MuchMoreMusic, Canada's answer to VH-1, occasionally shows some VH-1 programming, and a few weeks ago they aired When KISS Ruled the World, a pretty good doc on the band's origins and heyday. Here's what the Starchild, the Demon, and their minder had to say about one of their earliest venues:

Paul Stanley: We found the Hotel Diplomat, which was basically a cheap hotel right off Times Square which seemed to cater to hookers, drug addicts, and people who needed a room for an hour with very crispy sheets.

Gene Simmons: I put together a mailer with Paul--"KISS playing at the Diplomat Hotel Ballroom"--and I sent that out, must've been a thousand copies, to everybody in the television industry, managers, record companies, everybody...

Bill Aucoin (then-manager): They were playing the second floor ballroom, and we actually had to step over broken stairs, and there were holes in the floor.

Also caught Fame on one of my movie channels recently. Since I hadn't seen it in over 20 years, I kinda forgot that it wasn't all about spontaneous song-and-dance outbursts in the lunchroom and on car hoods in the street--quite a lot of late-'70s NYC grit and seediness made its way into the flick, including yet another Hotel Diplomat reference:

Ralph Garcey (a.k.a. Rafael Garcia): Hey Doris, listen, I, uh, I meant to tell ya, there's, uh, there's an open call for a movie at the Diplomat Hotel.
Doris: Oh yeah?
Ralph: Actually, what they're doing is, they're looking for your type for a movie.
Doris: What's my type?
Ralph: Well, y'know, your type--Irishy, Jewishy, paranoid...
Doris: What's the name of this movie?
Ralph: I Was a Teenage Fag-Hag.

I've been to NYC four times since November, mainly to deal with matters (and madness) pertaining to settling my father's estate. The bulk of these trips were spent stranded and insanely busy in Queens, but I did manage to spend a few "days off" gallivanting in Manhattan. One of the hi-lites of my MLK Day shopping/wandering trek was the chance to check out a small exhibit of Mick Rock pictures at the Soho Grand Hotel's gallery. On my way there I passed another Soho gallery whose existence was previously unknown to me--Morrison Hotel, a rock photography outlet, who coincidentally represent Rock and were co-sponsoring the Soho Grand show. Great as all the photos were, they looked a little outta place in such stark rarefied surroundings--they're better suited to the walls of Manitoba's (or Wowsville, R.I.P.).

A couple weeks ago my husband and I were able to dovetail one of my "business trips" with the Reaction Weekender, a 3-day '60s DJ fest put on by Josh Styles and Layla "Peppermint Twist" Lozano, the couple behind NYC's "monthly freakout," Smashed Blocked. We flew down and stayed at the same hotel with our dear galpal Sophie Au Go Go, a fellow erstwhile (though not native comme moi) New Yorker/current Torontonian. A splendid, sweaty, sloshed, tuneful, and terpsichorean time was had by all at each of the four packed venues, and I had a blast catching up with old buddies and meeting new folks from all corners of the '60s-enthusiast world. [Check out Tony El Tigre's photos--including one in which I look hideous but happy, clearly basking in the reflected glory of my heroine, Miriam Linna.]

Since Josh and Layla didn't start putting on their night until after I moved, I hadn't previously met them or most of their circle, which includes the Dansettes, a soulful guy-backed gal trio who performed at the event's culmination on Saturday night. Like the proverbial prodigal daughter I am, I've admired them all from afar in the meantime, but I kinda feel super-shy and outta the loop where they're concerned...and I probably was a little too quick to point out to those newer NYC scenesters I did manage to meet that I'm not from Toronto, I just live there--but I couldn't help myself. All were super-nice and understanding about it, though, particularly the lovely, gracious Layla herself, whose dark, wavy-haired good looks and infectious smile reminded me of Lori Lightning Maddox. Not to imply that Ms. Lozano is any sort of a groupie, but if you have the slightest idea of how groupie-obsessed I am, you'll know that's a compliment. Speaking of groupie obsessions, by sheer coincidence Miss Pamela was in town promoting the new edition of I'm With the Band, and despite a torrential downpour I couldn't resist attending her reading/signing/meet & greet at Coliseum Books, featuring special guests Patti D'Arbanville and Sandra Bernhard. Neither could I resist shelling out for a copy of the book and standing on line for my chance to be a blithering idiot fangirl before her, even though I'd recently purchased a half-priced copy back at T.O.'s BMV! We were sitting about two feet away when these WireImage shots of her with Bernhard and Gabriel Byrne were taken. While we were celeb-stalking, Sophie was busy scoring some Ossie Clark originals at a vintage clothing expo I'd hipped her to at the Metropolitan Pavilion. Thrills galore, I tell ya.

Had to spend a few extra days in Queens myself to take care of mo' bizness, but I did manage to slip away for a few hours later in the week, during which I took in The Downtown Show at NYU and its sister exhibit, Anarchy to Affluence, at nearby Parsons. While the art was cool in and of itself (one of those menacing life-sized black graffitti silhouettes, ubiquitous in the '80s, was painted right on a wall--of course I'm blanking out on the artist's name), I was particularly taken with the amount of rock & roll content on display. Issues of Punk Magazine and New York Rocker were tantalizingly laid out under glass...New York Rocker # 1 featured the headline, "MICHAEL BROWN on the right banke." Lots of rock & roll flyers and posters were on display at the Fales Library portion of the show, some advertising gigs at places I'd never heard of--including The Sea of Clouds (5 E. 16th Street, 5th floor--a New Year's Eve party with the Heartbreakers, the Ramones, and Wayne County DJ-ing), the Squat Theatre (256 W. 23rd Street), Tier 3 (77 White Street), and unnamed storefronts at 52 White Street and 204 E. 7th Street. At the low price of an optional 3-buck "suggested donation," this exhibit is not to be missed--especially if you're the type who frequently pored over the likes of Details, Paper, the Voice, and/or Art After Dark to add a little pseudo-sophistication to your callow adolescence.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Crown of (my) Creation

Just as I'm in the process of severing my final ties to my hometown (selling off the family home and all), pulls out all the stops for an excellent feature on cafone Corona. Scroll down for pics of the Lemon Ice King, Corona Park Salumeria (a.k.a. "Nucci's"), and Spaghetti Park--I grew up just 'round the corner from these goombah bastions. Apart from a mention in Simon & Garfunkel's "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard" ("Goodbye to Rosie, the Queen of Corona"), and the existence of at least one '60s garage band (The Go-Betweens), not much in the way of rock & roll hails from this burg. Legend has it Madonna lived in a little red synagogue on 53rd Avenue (not pictured on the site) during her pre-fame days as a member of the Breakfast Club--but Corona's cooler associations lie in its geographic situation just north of Forest Hills, birthplace of the Ramones. My own birthplace, the former LaGuardia (now North Shore) Hospital, stands just across the street from the Birchwood Towers, Joey's childhood home--and I dig milking that factoid for all it's worth, which admittedly ain't much. The scene in End of the Century where Forest Hills High School is shown and the Rubettes' "Sugar Baby Love" is playing cues my waterworks every time, and Hills ain't even close to being my alma mater--I mean, I took a sewing class there once, but yeesh. At any rate, read it and weep...