Tuesday, 28 August 2012

cbgb's broke my heart

   it really did.

   there's something about catching the tube in London when it suddenly
   goes overground that always made me think of New York, this clanking
   metal carriage suddenly interspersed with daylight and buildings and
   shapes as you sped by. something that made you think in that second
   'I can see myself in New York by myself' ... and it would be be okay.

   and 4 months later I was there ... to see Radiohead at Madison Square
   Garden. but it was about so much more than that ... it was about more
   than just seeing Radiohead ... it was *where* I was seeing them. NEW
   YORK ... I would get to see CBGB's. I would get to see CBGB's.

   I did not catch the subway there. I did not want to arrive in a blur of
   darkness. I wanted to see how New York changed from Times Square
   to the Lower east side. So I walked ... okay, it took a few hours - but
   it was worth every minute. I loved seeing how the streets suddenly
   changed the further away you got. lots of times I wondered if I was
   going in the right direction ... then walking down a tree lined street
   I saw something in the distance .... the red CBGB's logo. my heart
   jumped a beat and my eyes welled up. CBGB's was right there.


   I know they are goofy poses. but I didn't want to just stand there
   like it was no big deal ... how pale and squinty do I look above!!
   1000 point epic fail. having said that, Joy Division t shirt in front
   of CB's ... I know I'm breaking the hipster cool-ness scale!!!

   I was there basically all afternoon getting photos in front of
   CBGB's!!! ... I stopped a lot of people!! and I was right to know
   that I'd have to take a lot of photos ... because when I got the
   photos back (pre-digital cameras!) ... photo after photo had
   my eyes closed (that old trick of mine!) ... but I loved every
   minute of it. standing in front of CBGB's ... dude!!


   I have to mention the below 2 songs. they had just been released when
   I went and I listened to them more than any other songs while I was
   there. they always soundtracked my journey arriving to CB's on the
   subway. just something about the beats and strings in the songs that
   perfectly suited that time of year and the cooler temperature.

   I went back that night to see a band (Secret Agent Bill) camera in
   hand!! ... how excited was I!! you payed at the door and as you went
   in there were little seating booths and tables on the left and a bar on
   the right. the place wasn't too busy and down the front it wasn't packed
   full of punker kids ... there were little sets of tables and chairs ... which
   I sat down at. okay so that wasn't exactly what I'd wanted, but it didn't
   matter - all I could think when I was sitting there was I'M AT CBGB's!!
   I'M AT CBGB's!! (and this went on for quite a while!) just the realisation
   that I was actually there. I was finally there. I just couldn't take it all in.
   the cute punk rock waitress from when I got a coke earlier came and
   asked if I wanted another drink, so I had another ... how cool was that!!
   ... punk rock table service!!

   to go to the toilets you had to go towards the stage and walk down the
   left hand side (which I kind of liked! - slightly awkward as you pass the
   band onstage!!) and go downstairs. the toilets were everything that you
   had ever read, stickers and graffitti everywhere.

   a funny thing was as I sat there I remember being almost disappointed
   that some stickers (advertising a new release) were almost strategically
   placed near the bottom part of the stage. I was kinda disappointed that
   it seemed so commercial ... but it didn't bother me for long. I'd go back
   to thinking I'M AT CBGB's!! ... thinking about it now, they were just trying
   to survive. 3 years after these photos were taken ... CBGB's was gone.

   and so was part of my fantasy of always being able to go there and watch
   bands ... punk rock waitress still being there and recognising me ... I went
   back a second time on the Saturday, the place was really packed, but sadly
   still no punker kids. it was some kind of world music event. okay so I never
   got the raucous gigs I wanted there ... but I had seen it. I had been there.
   I'll forever be thankful I went when I did and that memory of me sitting
   there not really believing where I was ... it still brings a smile to my face
   every time I think of it.

   2 of my prized possessions - joke/no joke!! - the second was on a wall outside,
   still has the tape attached!! ... forever my little piece of CB's

   here are some great videos of bands at CBGB's which really capture
   what it must have been like to have been there. hole above playing
   my favourite first album song. H20 and Agnostic front below. I've seen
   both these bands at The Charlotte in Leicester, a same size small venue
   PACKED FULL OF PUNKER KIDS ... so I know exactly what it must
   have been like in that room 1000's of miles away.

   I NEED TO WATCH THIS FILM!!!  ... I want to be that guy so bad.

   great feature (apart from the annoying presenters) about the hardcore
   matinee shows/scene at CB's. I saw so many straight-edge hardcore
   bands at The Charlotte so I'm really envious of people that went to

   I love this video (that tour looks amazing!!) the clip below shows you
   exactly where CBGB's was positioned ... on a huge main road ... it kind
   of shocked me how small and un-obtrusive it was ... almost lost in the
   rest of the street.

   CB's the day after it closed. I get a bit teary watching this. I know
   I'm a wuss.

   how it is now. this breaks my heart. for real.

   I don't want to leave it on that thought ... and that footage.
   the below is perfect. cool punkers hanging out there in 84/85.
   in an alternate (perfect) life I would have been watching gigs
   at CB's - not The Charlotte. would you have been there too??


  1. Great post, my friend! Must've been a lot of emotion to experience all of that in all the ways you did.

  2. Great post!!



  3. I have never been to NYC but if I went I would walk everywhere too. Awesome post George. Oh and I love your Joy Division t-shirt too.

  4. Ah this is sooo cool! I had never heard of this place, must of been so cool to finally see it in person, and thinking about all the history and atmosphere that used to be there! Ah so exciting and I like your writing too!