News

The legendary CBGB goes out with a bang

Jimmy Vielkind and Bill Hutchinson
New York Daily News

NEW YORK--The birthplace of punk, CBGB, where bands such as the Ramones and Talking Heads got their start, threw its own headbanging funeral Sunday night.

With rock poet Patti Smith offering the expletive-laden eulogy to the grungy Bowery icon, mohawk-wearing mourners took one final twirl in the mosh pit.

"You know what's sad? Turning New York City into the suburbs," Smith said. "The whole thing's sad. This is just a symptom of the empty prosperity of our times."

But the 59-year-old singer tried to be Zen-like about the demise of the graffiti-scarred landmark, where she launched her career in the early 1970s.

"CBGB is a state of mind," Smith said. "We can have CBGB in our heart, but the new kids have got to have their own places. What's going to happen to CBGB is young kids all over the world are going to have their own f-----g clubs and they won't care."

As more than 200 people lined the Bowery for the final show, a group calling themselves "The Hungry March Band" gathered on the sidewalk to play a New Orleans-style funeral dirge.

"It's crazy," Brian Alvarez, 18, of Queens, said of CBGB's swan song. It's emotional, and we're in shock."

Alvarez, a drummer, said his band, "My Distorted Image," played three gigs at CBGB, the last one in April. "It's a weird feeling because we never thought we would play there. We got more gigs after we played there. Now it's a crazy feeling because we never thought it was going to go."

Owner Hilly Kristal, 75, who named the place for country, bluegrass and blues music, said he was resigned to the fact it was closing time.

Kristal, who has cancer, had battled in court and in public to keep the doors open, but the landlord exercised his right not to renew the lease. He vowed to resurrect CBGB in Las Vegas next year, and plans to take most of the distressed decor with him. "We're taking everything," he said. "The urinals, the toilets even."

Check out photos from the last CBGB weekend from Brooklyn Vegan. [last night | last Saturday]

Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

12 Essential Performances from New Orleans' Piano "Professors"

New Orleans music is renowned for its piano players. Here's a dozen jams from great Crescent City keyboardists, past and present, and a little something extra.

Music

Jess Williamson Reimagines the Occult As Source Power on 'Sorceress'

Folk singer-songwriter, Jess Williamson wants listeners to know magic is not found in tarot cards or mass-produced smudge sticks. Rather, transformative power is deeply personal, thereby locating Sorceress as an indelible conveyor of strength and wisdom.

By the Book

Flight and Return: Kendra Atleework's Memoir, 'Miracle Country'

Although inconsistent as a memoir, Miracle Country is a breathtaking environmental history. Atleework is a shrewd observer and her writing is a gratifying contribution to the desert-literature genre.

Music

Mark Olson and Ingunn Ringvold Celebrate New Album With Performance Video (premiere)

Mark Olson (The Jayhawks) and Ingunn Ringvold share a 20-minute performance video that highlights their new album, Magdalen Accepts the Invitation. "This was an opportunity to perform the new songs and pretend in a way that we were still going on tour because we had been so looking forward to that."

Music

David Grubbs and Taku Unami Collaborate on the Downright Riveting 'Comet Meta'

Comet Meta is a brilliant record full of compositions and moments worthy of their own accord, but what's really enticing is that it's not only by David Grubbs but of him. It's perhaps the most emotive, dream-like, and accomplished piece of Grubbsian experimental post-rock.

Music

On Their 2003 Self-Titled Album, Buzzcocks Donned a Harder Sound and Wore it With Style and Taste

Buzzcocks, the band's fourth album since their return to touring in 1989, changed their sound but retained what made them great in the first place

Reading Pandemics

Chaucer's Plague Tales

In 18 months, the "Great Pestilence" of 1348-49 killed half of England's population, and by 1351 half the population of the world. Chaucer's plague tales reveal the conservative edges of an astonishingly innovative medieval poet.

Music

Country's Jaime Wyatt Gets in Touch With Herself on 'Neon Cross'

Neon Cross is country artist Jaime Wyatt's way of getting in touch with all the emotions she's been going through. But more specifically, it's about accepting both the past and the present and moving on with pride.

Music

Counterbalance 17: Public Enemy - 'It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back'

Hip-hop makes its debut on the Big List with Public Enemy’s meaty, beaty manifesto, and all the jealous punks can’t stop the dunk. Counterbalance’s Klinger and Mendelsohn give it a listen.

Music

Sondre Lerche and the Art of Radical Sincerity

"It feels strange to say it", says Norwegian pop artist Sondre Lerche about his ninth studio album, "but this is the perfect time for Patience. I wanted this to be something meaningful in the middle of all that's going on."

Books

How the Template for Modern Combat Journalism Developed

The superbly researched Journalism and the Russo-Japanese War tells readers how Japan pioneered modern techniques of propaganda and censorship in the Russo-Japanese War.

Film

From Horrifying Comedy to Darkly Funny Horror: Bob Clark Films

What if I told you that the director of one of the most heartwarming and beloved Christmas movies of all time is the same director as probably the most terrifying and disturbing yuletide horror films of all time?

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.