Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Does your mother know you're a Ramone

I'm beginning to think I'm the only blogger going who spent any time at all at CBGB during its hey-day who didn't have the grime and stale air of the place imprinted into his DNA and part of his brain permanently rewired to play Patti Smith and The Shirts over and over as the soundtrack of his life.

Somehow I wandered in and wandered out without a single permanent, distinct memory of the place sticking to the inside of my head. Since all my other memories from that period of my life are connected with sex and romantic misadventure, it must be that there were no girls involved in any of my visits to the joint.

Just because the night belonged to love, because the night belonged to lust for some people, doesn't mean it did for all of us.

I, for one, really did go there for the music!

And as for the music, Patti Smith meant more to me for her Springsteen connections and I saw a lot of the great bands associated with the place, and with the time, in other venues and, besides, I knew their music better through listening to their albums, which explains why when I think of the Patti Smith I'm driving the back roads of upstate New York at three in the morning trying to stop crying and when I think of the Ramones I'm in an apartment in Boston with the blonde drunkenly blurting out the words I'd so far successfully avoided saying myself and when I think of the Talking Heads...

Hold up! Hold up! (I can hear you all saying.) Lance, you don't really expect us to buy that you listened to the Talking Heads?

Not only did I, I still do.

I was also the first person I knew to own their album.

You're not going to believe me when I tell you about me and Elvis Costello.

At any rate, CBGB should feel like a part of my personal history, but it does not. My heart should have felt a pang when the doors closed last week, but it did not.

My one and only chance to establish myself as a hipster and apparently I was too busy trying to be a different kind of Bohemian, intent on the path that would take me out to Iowa and eventually to this computer, this minute, being Lance Mannion.

Two roads diverged in the Bowery and I took the one less traveled by---unless the usual route is to go from New York to the Midwest---and way led on to way and here I am with nothing to draw on to write a post like this fun one from Neddie Jingo:

Rent-poor, clothes-poor, food-poor, a year out of college and toiling for a four-figure income, your Ned is domiciled in a roach-ridden, rat-infested first-floor sublet on 28th and Eighth, quickly depleting his record collection at the used-record shop, sacrificed on the Altar of Beer-Money. Didn't exactly have much use for my moth-eaten "Thick as a Brick" and my Mexican pressing of "Let It Be" those days anyway.

Bobby Lightfoot comes down from Hampshire College for a visit. Still only a sophomore, he's got Dreams. Big Dreams. Gonna be a Rock-n-Roll Star, yes sir, Casio keyboard always at the ready to regale us with a newly-worked-out arrangement of Joe Jackson's "Steppin' Out." At great length.

He's not yet formed The Malarians, but the pieces are in place, and it's pretty easy to tell the kid's already in a musical zone way beyond anyplace I've ever been. Ambitous. Very ambitious.

We go downtown. Can't even remember why, now. Our wanderings take us to the Bowery, and when I point out CBGB across the street, his reaction's not dissimilar to mine three years earlier. He wants to check it out.

There's a crowd outside, and we have to squeeze our way through it. I look at Bobby, and almost piss myself laughing. His spine is absolutely straight as me winds around people, his eyes are hooded in the best Punk style, he's pulled himself to his full six feet, and he is actually, swear to God, sucking in his cheeks.

Come on, Bobby! They're just people! You're not going to get discovered in this crowd!

There's more, go read it here.


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