Wednesday, August 31, 2005

They might close down CBGBs tonight.

I haven’t been there in ages, but man, did I love that filthy hole in the wall. I used to catch Living Colour there before they were signed... or otherwise grooved to a bunch of punk bands nobody ever heard of. I missed out on the first alternative rock movement -- bands like the Ramones, the Talking Heads, Blondie and others. But it wasn’t just the music that I liked about the club; it was that whole scene.

As a teenager, I would go into the city with my friends and think we were cool, hanging out in the Bowery, swaggering down the stark streets in our grungiest attire. Back in suburbia everyone was a friggin’ label whore; but at CBs, you stood out if you weren’t a slob. I felt at home. Though I now know I don’t really fit in anywhere...

One weekend back in the day, we caught their early morning rock show. It was freezing outside, so we went inside to warm up as we listened to the bands do the same. Don’t remember the group -- their name was something like “Stomach Pump” or “The Eviscerators” -- but I do remember the loud but soothing tones of the electric bass strumming out the rhythm of their nihilistic battle cry. To me it was a lullaby. As I nodded off, some dude in the club tapped my shoulder. I jostled awake, a bit embarrassed. He asked if I was all right, and I said of course I was.

“Oh,” he said. “I thought maybe you took something.”

I didn’t catch his drift, having never done a drug stronger than Flintstones Multis. But I was still defensive. “Took something? What the hell am I gonna steal in this place?”

Maybe if I was still in New York, I would’ve gone back to delve into that scene again. I really don't like big concerts; I prefer the intimacy of a small venue. But I think I just outgrew the allure, no matter where I am.

I now work at the edge of the Sunset Strip. Everyday at lunch I walk past the famous Whiskey-a-Go-Go and the Roxy (where Jim Morrison and the Doors used to fall down drunk) and the Viper Room (where River Phoenix fell down dead). But those joints just ain’t the same.

Outside of these clubs, waiting for the evening distortion fest, I see these kids -- babies, I tells ya -- dressed entirely in black and sporting Mohawks & faux-hawks & schmo-hawks... I wanna tell them, hey punx, it’s been done before. It was passé in my day, and now it’s not even retrohip cool.

And when they tell me hey, old man, why don’t you retrofit your hip and tell us in your worldly wisdom what is cool... I’d tell them to go back East. Go to New York. Hang out at CBGBs. Yeah, like on your T-shirt, kid. It was a rock club first, y'know.

But they can’t. And maybe none of us ever will again.


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