Thursday, March 10, 2005

The end of an era?

I heard today they might be closing down CBGB's in New York. Fuck. I haven't been there yet. It has been a dream of mine for a long time, to go see any bands there, get drunk and act like a rock star for a few hours, and maybe throw up where some of my heroes have. I first heard of CBGB's through The Ramones, when I was a little punker 18 years ago.

I remember getting The Ramones live at CBGB's, New York, 10/27/77 at Rock & Roll Records when I would have been maybe 15. Many friday nights going into Queen St went like this. Going to Blue Beat behind the civic, which was about the only place I knew where you could get tartan trousers, stovepipes and goth/punk clothes from. I had a prized pair of black stovepipes and some 10 up doc boots. (which I had to take off and hide from my mum when I sneaked home). Oh they were the days. Then I'd stroll down Queen St, with my soaped up spikes and have a look at Marbecks in the import section, then across to Fort St and to Rock and Roll Records and maybe buy a badge or a cloth patch to sew onto my army bag or the back of my shirt. If I had enough money I'd buy a record. I can remember buying The Exploited : Punks not Dead, Crass: Best Before 1984, Black Flag: Everything went black, Dead Kennedys: In God we Trust (which I had to take back after my mum found it. The cover art alone was enough, God knows what would have happened if she had actually listened to it.) Then I'd walk up the otherside of Queen Street, a long long way to Real Groovy Records, which used to be smaller than it is now, but heaven for a 15 year punk rocker. Then I'd go across to Myers Park and smoke pot, and walk back down to Britomart place, try and not get beat up by Samoan gangs and catch the last bus home.

These memories are pretty hazy, but I do remember being very stoned when I was young and feeling quite sick and somehow ending up in Symonds St outside a really rough pub that was on the corner opposite cheapskates. God knows I can't remember the name of the pub. I'll never forget the wasters piling out of that hole.

Whoops I'm rambling on here. Back to Cbgb's. From what I can gather they owed 300,000 US dollars in rent in 2001 and have been paying it off ever since. (How do you get into that much debt for rent???) They have just been lumped for another bill for 76,000 US. The owners of the building want to double the rent and and negotiate a new lease. The club is fighting the unpaid bills and rent rise in court later this month. Here's hoping.

CBGB has had an incredible run for over 30 years. It opened in 1973 and was originally supposed to be a country bar. CBGB stands for Country, Bluegrass And Blues. Over time however these acts ended up playing here. Agnostic Front, Blondie, Babes in Toyland, Cop Shoot Cop, The Damned, The Dead Boys, Fishbone, Guns n Roses, The Jam, Jon Spencer, Pavement, Pere Ubu, P J Harvey, The Police, Patti Smith, The Ramones, The Rollins Band, Talking Heads, Television, Richard Hell & the Voidoids. What a list! I'd give my right arm to see any of those bands. I hope they sort something out, it would be a great loss to good music.

(No doubt I've missed some essential bands out, and my memory of Auckland 18 years ago could be be a little fuzzy. The rock and roll lifestyle of my youth maybe have impacted on my brain to remember anything.)