Monday, October 16, 2006

End of the Century

Last night, a New York City institution went out with one last scream to the heavens and one last fist raised in defiance.

CBGB, the legendary club which for 33 years has been a literal and figurative Petri dish, nurturing the bands that gave birth to the punk scene -- The Ramones, Blondie, The Talking Heads -- as well as thousands more since, rolled down its battered steel gate for the last time after a final performance from Patti Smith.

The tiny, dark and grimy space -- covered wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling with the stickers, posters and graffiti of the bands who played there -- is now the musical equivalent of Tutankhamen's tomb.

CBGB will live on in the hearts and minds of the hundreds of thousands who crowded through its doors to worship at the temple of rock and roll. But it will never be about so many incredible nights as it will be about one night; that one night in which you saw a band, had a conversation or met a person you'll never forget.

For me, that person I met at CBGB was my wife, Jayne.

So much history.

So many memories.

So long old friend.


Jayne said...

That was a good night, baby. Who knew, as I pushed through that cold March wind to see my friend play his music... that I would meet a man who would change my life so drastically?

I was just there for the music and a glass or two of bad wine...

I remember those beautiful words that you said to me as it looked like our evening might end because I had a train to catch...

"I have a car. I could drive you home in the morning."

sigh... you knew your way to a New York gal's heart.

I am so glad that you did.

Eric Blade said...

Congrats to the two of you :)

On the bright side, maybe those of us who didn't get to experience this iconic venue will get to see it in Vegas. A couple of news articles I've read have said that the owner is taking everything that he can get out of the building, down to the urinals and all, and bringing it to Vegas to start again. Maybe he should talk to the guys that run New York, New York, and put it right in there.

Chez said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Chez said...

A sad, sad prospect my friend; but I suppose completely in fitting with the times.

Jonah said...

I am happy to say that I was able to see music played at CBGB's and got the chance to hang out with the bands backstage. That much Rock & Roll history packed into such a small place will never again be replicated.

The real shame of CBGB's is that it has not been relevant for years now. More would have been done to save this historical venue had it remained as important to today's Rock scene as it was back when The Ramones, The Talking Heads, and Blondie rocked the house.

VOTAR said...

Well Chez of the many and varied pick-up lines you have used over the last few decades, that one seems to have been a relative success.

But on a serious note,

I have not seen it explained in much detail exactly why CBGB is closing down. The rent got too high? The landlord won't let them keep their dog?

If it is because the location is no longer profitable, picking it up and recreating it almost in every detail in Las Vegas just seems cheezy. Like moving the London Bridge to Lake Havasu, Arizona.

Chez said...


Very true.

There was a good-sized contingent which believed that CBGB's time was up and that nothing which purports to truly be about the spirit of Rock n' Roll should be allowed to stand forever.

Still, I caught several really great band there in its waning years -- and like I said, I met my wife there.

I'll still miss the hell out of the place.


Yup, rent dispute. Hilly owed a shitload of back rent and couldn't come to an agreement with the landlord. A legitimate argument which was made during this whole fracas was the fact that New York City is being "culturally raped" because none of the old places can afford to stay here anymore.

Coming from somone who pays an obscene amount of money for a relatively small place on the Upper East Side -- I couldn't agree more.

Jonah said...

The rent was raised to the point that they owners of the building knew that CBGB's would have to vacate. Their goal in all this is to build high end condo's for the kind of people who would never set foot in CBGB's to begin with.

The city said they would find a place for CBGB's to go because it was a landmark thank belongs in NYC, of course this was just talk as little to nothing was done after that promise was made.

Chez - I think it is great that you were able to meet your wife in such a place that was so rich in it's surroundings. What I mean to say is the smell, color/look, and most def the sound of that place was sooo strong that you have so much to hold on to and remember about such a meaningful place for you in your life.

Hope that made sense.