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andee's world: I Shed No Tears for CBGBs

andee's world

Hello and welcome to my blog. This space will be devoted to opinions, observations, lists, articles and whatever else I feel like posting. Subjects will include music, human nature, politics, life in NYC, etc. If I paste someone else's writing up here, it is because the author said something way better than I ever could. By the way, I don't claim to be a particularly smart guy; I'm just a musician with some opinions. If you disagree with me, that's cool -- but then, you're probably wrong.

Monday, June 13, 2005

I Shed No Tears for CBGBs

I know some people are going to skin me for saying this, but here goes anyway -- I don't give a rat's ass that CBGB is closing down. Right now alot of people are rallying around the old landmark club in these "Save CB's" efforts, but not me. CBGB's expiration date passed a long time ago and it's time for the damn place to die a natural death.

I can hear you already: "WHAT?! CB's is legendary, man! What about the whole NYC punk scene that was born there?! It's a historical landmark!"

Yeah, but as a club, it has sucked for years, probably for way longer than the time that it was actually cool. Whatever CBGBs used to represent is just an old dream now. Whatever aesthetic identity it once had has been completely lost. Yeah, the close-knit, fertile music community that blossomed there in the seventies must have been fantastic -- for a brief period of time, you could stumble into CBs on a given night and witness great ideas being born on the stage. Bands like Television, Blondie and the Ramones could be seen playing together on one bill. And then at the end of the night Debbie Harry would drive everyone home in her beat up car. Everyone knew eachother and supported eachother and it was a very exciting, but short lived moment in time.

But when was the last time CBGB even put on a night of cohesive music? -- of bands that actually make sense playing on the same stage on the same night together? Louise, who's been booking CB's for about 150 years now, is so jaded and over her job at this point that I don't think she's even thought thoughts like that for more than a decade.

For years CBGBs has been going through the motions, slapping together incongruous bills of music each night of the week. Bands that have absolutely nothing in common get booked together at the rate of, what, eight per night? Each act gets rushed through its measly 20-minute set and hurried offstage to make way for the next band, all for the "privelige" of playing the "legendary CBGB."

My band used to do CBGBs but we stopped a long time ago because the experience was always so excruciatingly unpleasant. We always brought alot of people and usually outdrew all the other bands on the bill. We made alot of money for the club and we were always 100% professional and friendly, yet we were treated like total shit every single time. The "mystique" of CBGB quickly dissovles after you've been berated by the sound guy -- over the PA system -- for the fifth time and your friends are forced to pay a ten dollar cover to hear your stressed-out 20 minutes of music (which usually starts an hour late), drink $6 Budweisers and endure shitty attitude from the bitter, jaded staff. Oh, wait, is that supposed to be "punk rock"? You can have it.

And by the way, why didn't Hilly Cristal just buy the damn hovel decades ago when it probably cost a song? Now, the monthly rent of CBGB's has apparently shot up to something like $40,000, which is of course completely obscene -- but why did Hilly let that happen? Why am I supposed to help bail this guy out now?!

I'll tell you who I'm going to miss -- Luna Lounge, who just closed their doors last weekend. Yeah, Johnny Thunders never chucked his biscuits in the dressing room, Handsome Dick Manitoba never assaulted any trannies on their stage and the bathrooms actually have doors on them (so much for your "punk rock mystique"). But for more than ten years, Rob and Diane have poured nothing but love and care into booking and running the shows there and have always maintained warm relationships with the bands. This positivity was reflected by the rest of the staff, and, consequently, the bands and the patrons. You always felt welcome at Luna and there always seemed to be a great vibe. That's the kind of scene that's valuable to me.

But CBGBs? Fuck them. They can go to hell.


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