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Extremely ‘Childish’ Donald Trump posters
01.12.2017
03:23 pm

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Activism
Art
Current Events
Politics
Punk
Stupid or Evil?

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GOP Info Poster

British cult artist/musician/poet/author and anti-authoritarian legend Billy Childish has just announced publication of a trio of specially commission poster prints commemorating “the occasion of Donald Trump being crassly maligned by the world’s press.”

The posters were created at the L-13 Light Industrial Workshop. Each measure 52.5 x 35 cm and are in stamped and numbered editions of 113 for £25.00 each. All posters come folded and in a deliberately distressed condition. The first orders will be dispatched on January 19th.

Mr. Childish is represented by L-13 in London, Neugerriemschneider in Berlin and Lehmann Maupin in New York.
 

Presidential Cunt Elect
 
More extremely Childish Trump posters after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Mickey Mouse in Vietnam’
01.10.2017
04:07 pm

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Activism
Animation
Politics

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Mickey Mouse in Vietnam is a (very) short animated anti-war film produced by Whitney Lee Savage and the great American graphic designer Milton Glaser, creator of the “I♥ NY logo,” the famous 1966 poster of Bob Dylan with swirling rainbow hair, the Brooklyn Lager and DC Comics logos and countless other things. Glaser, now 87, was the co-founder of New York magazine, has been the subject of museum level career surveys the world over and is the first (and so far only) graphic designer to receive the the National Medal of Arts, which was bestowed upon him by President Obama in 2009.

The plot of the Mickey Mouse in Vietnam—which is about a minute long—is simple: Soon after arriving in Vietnam, Mickey is shot dead.

The film was long assumed to be lost when it was uploaded to YouTube in 2013 and went viral. Around that time Milton Glaser was asked about the short in an interview that appeared on the Carl Solway Gallery’s blog:

Milton Glaser: It was for a thing called The Angry Arts Festival, which was a kind of protest event, inviting artists to produce something to represent their concerns about the war in Vietnam and a desire to end it.

How did you get involved with, the director, Lee Savage in making this short?
Milton Glaser: Lee Savage was a good friend of mine, and he was in the film business of one kind or another, doing small production films — and with a little experience in animation, and all the things you have to know to produce a modest film the way we did.

What was the audience’s reaction when it was screened at the festival?
Milton Glaser: It was very moving — people responded strongly to it. But within the context of many such events and many presentations, it didn’t quite have the power that you experience when you are seeing it in isolation. But it was moving.

You know, I was just talking about it this morning, because I have not seen it many, many years. It just shows you the power of symbolism, because in some ways it’s much more powerful than seeing a photograph of dead GIs in a landscape — something about the destruction about a deeply held myth that moves you in way that is unexpected.

Speaking of symbolism, is that why you picked Mickey Mouse in particular?
Milton Glaser: Well, obviously Mickey Mouse is a symbol of innocence, and of America, and of success, and of idealism — and to have him killed, as a solider is such a contradiction of your expectations. And when you’re dealing with communication, when you contradict expectations, you get a result.

 

Watch ‘Mickey Mouse in Vietnam’ after the jump

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The Vanguard: Powerful photographs of the Black Panthers
01.05.2017
12:57 pm

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Activism
Art
Politics
Race

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This week saw six people, including the president and the director of communications of the NAACP, arrested at the office of Senator Jeff Sessions in Mobile, Alabama. At issue was Sessions’ impending nomination as President Trump’s attorney general; the protests addressed Sessions’ history of opposition to the civil rights movement in its broadest incarnations. The list of problems is quite impressive: Sessions has denied any existence of voter suppression efforts directed at minority communities and once purportedly warned a black attorney to “be careful how you talk to white folks” in addition to joking that his only problem with the Ku Klux Klan was its drug use. Further, Sessions has referred to the NAACP as “un-American” in the past and has called the Voting Rights Act a “piece of intrusive legislation.”

Sessions’ elevation to the top law enforcement officer in the nation is far from the only signal that Donald Trump has some sketchy views on race. If ever there was a moment in which one might actively pine for a return of the Black Panthers—real Black Panthers, not the Fox News bogeymen—the the inauguration of Donald Trump as our 45th president is definitely it.

While it wasn’t a perfect organization, the three most salient facts about the Black Panthers are that (a) the resistance they advocated was richly justified, (b) they were thoroughly fucked with by the FBI, and (c) they did a huge amount of good in African-American neighborhoods, in the form of community organizing of the kind that Republicans have been known to deride. That they carried around scary machine guns, behaved like a paramilitary group and said things about armed resistance that scared the shit out of white people, well, consider what they were up against.

The 2011 documentary The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 and the 2015 documentary The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution are both eloquent defenses of a group that constantly threatens to be lost to history in some sense. If historians are not vigilant about defending the group to white audiences, it will always risk caricature as a radical, violent organization, which the Panthers (mostly) were not.
 

 
In 1970 a book of photographs was published documenting the resistance efforts of the Black Panthers surrounding the 1968 trial of Huey Newton and its aftermath. The book was by two white photographers, a married couple named Ruth-Marion Baruch and Pirkle Jones. It was titled The Vanguard: A Photographic Essay on the Black Panthers. (A similar book of Baruch and Jones’ photographs was published in 2002 under the title The Black Panthers 1968.) The 1970 book includes a number of informative texts, such as “Review of Panther Growth and Harrassment”, “Rules of the Black Panther Party”, and the “Black Panther Party Platform and Program.”

The photographs were taken the same year that J. Edgar Hoover called the Black Panthers “the greatest threat to the internal security of the United States.” You don’t have to be Ta-Nehisi Coates (whose own father, Paul Coates, was a member of the Black Panthers and was internally discussed as a candidate for assassination by the selfsame FBI) to consider that judgment to be a mite premature…...... 

As they used to say of Richard Nixon, we can now say of the Black Panthers: Now, more than ever…..
 

 

 
Much more after the jump…....

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Fire Damage: Photographer documents the devastation of Gatlinburg
12.27.2016
11:32 am

Topics:
Activism
Art
Current Events

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001firegat.jpg
 
On November 23, 2016, a series of wildfires spread through the Smoky Mountains devastating Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge in Sevier County. The fires were one of the worst natural disasters in Tennessee history—claiming fourteen lives and injuring 134.

When the blaze was first reported along the ridge of Chimney Tops mountain “no suppression activities were initiated.” On November 24, park rangers started containment procedures in a hope to stop the fire’s progression. Four days later the blaze had spread to Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Pittman Center, as a result of sparks and downed power lines.

The worst of the inferno—what the fire department called “the apocalypse”—destroyed the majority of wooded areas surrounding the center of Gatlinburg. In total some 1,413 properties were destroyed.

Watching the devastation on television, Nashville-based photographer Jeremy Cowart decided to do something to help the victims of the fire. Together with a volunteer crew, Cowart documented the aftermath of the Great Smoky Mountains wildfires. Using a camera attached to a drone, he photographed many of the families and individuals whose lives had been devastated by the fire as they lay on a white mattress surrounded by the remnants of their homes.

A website Voices of Gatlinburg was set up to share the stories, images and most importantly help with the needs of those worst affected.
 
002firegat.jpg
 

I went to work that morning, like I always do. By 9am I knew that something was wrong. I was working on Sevier County Ambulance Service. We did business as usual until later that evening. It was about 10 or 11pm that evening when I first got pulled into Gatlinburg for mutual aid with EMS response. On my way to staging I passed by my residence and it was still there. We continued to run several more calls and about 1–2am I was going to meet up with another GFD EMS unit. That’s when I passed my residence, and that’s when I saw that my house was gone.

 
003firegat.jpg
 

It was scary because the smoke was so bad and sirens just kept passing going both directions. We finally got to my sister’s but the sky was bright orange.

 
004firegat.jpg
 
More voices from the Gatlinburg fire, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
There’s a riot going on: Posters of resistance from Paris 1968
12.21.2016
12:24 pm

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Activism
Art
Politics

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“Beauty is in the street”
 
As the annus horribilis of 2016 draws to a close, my mind tilts towards predecessors of resistance. It is easy to focus on what cannot be done. Much more important to consider what can be done.

In May 1968 Paris was brought to a standstill thanks to widespread protests against the unemployment and poverty under Charles de Gaulle’s conservative government. The situation got so bad that even De Gaulle had to flee the country briefly. 1968 was a year of violence and resistance in the U.S. and Europe alike—in Europe the year has taken on iconic significance for the generation that took part in a way that never quite happened on the other side of the Atlantic.

The uprisings of Paris 1968 were notable for extremely fine examples of polemical poster art. The Atelier Populaire, run by Marxist artists and art students, occupied the École des Beaux-Arts and dedicated its efforts to producing thousands of silk-screened posters using bold, iconic imagery and slogans as well as explicitly collective/anonymous authorship. Most of the posters were printed on newssheet using a single color with basic icons such as the factory to represent labor and a fist to stand for resistance.

As MessyNessy astutely observed earlier this year, the posters had something of the iconic power of Saul Bass’ notable output.
 

The Atelier Populaire
 
In 2008 the Hayward Gallery in London mounted an exhibition under the title “May 68: Street Posters from the Paris Rebellion”. Its curator, Johan Kugelberg, made the following statement in an interview:
 

There was no formal organisation behind this uprising. It was everyday people who had been pushed too far, showing a solidarity that jumped the shackles of class, age and education. The kind of revolution of everyday life leading to a societal dialogue where people truly functioned as a collective brain, pulse and heart. There seems to be evidence here of the making of an ultra-potent antidote to the extremely scary fragmented, cubicled and computer-screened hyper-individualism of today. Your blog won’t change anything. Your Facebook potentially could, but only if you add to it by meeting and communicating face-to-face with people from walks of life very different to yours.

 
Sobering words, in the era of fake news.

Many more posters after the jump…...

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Sassy political buttons from the frontlines of the fight for LGBT rights
12.12.2016
06:10 pm

Topics:
Activism
Queer

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“NOT TONIGHT, DEAR ... IT’S A FELONY” pinback, c. 1990
 
One of the most invigorating struggles of our time has been the fight to secure dignity and legal protection from the law for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans (LGBT). In the modern era, the history of gay awareness can be said to start with Oscar Wilde, and the progressive engagement for human rights has had many ups and downs, the rambunctious disco/bath-house 1970s followed by the harrowing advent of AIDS in the early 1980s.

The last 12 years or so has seen AIDS somewhat corralled by the medical community as well as the institutionalization of gay marriage in the federal legal code. A wide array of figures played key roles over the decades, including Quentin Crisp, Harvey Milk, Rock Hudson, Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner, Divine, Brad Davis, Martina Navratilova, Andy Warhol, Ron Vawter, Ellen DeGeneres, Ru Paul and Keith Haring.

The LGBT History Archive keeps active accounts on Instagram and Tumblr, and even the briefest perusal of either yields an emotionally resonant wave of memories and associations. Only a small percentage of the images posted there are buttons, but over time it adds up—there are many more where these came from

The struggle continues to this day, as legal rulings are issued addressing the right of trans people to use restrooms of the appropriate gender (unfortunately largely as backlash to the progressive position). As I say, the fight continues.
 

“BATMAN & ROBIN” pinback, design by Randy Wicker, c. 1969
 

“FUCK YOU I’M GAY” pinback, c. 1974
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Girls and guns: Brave female freedom fighters from around the world on the battlefields of war
11.30.2016
10:47 am

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Activism
Feminism
Heroes
Politics

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The first female combat veteran Margaret Corbin helping to load a cannon being shot by her husband John Corbin during the Battle of Fort Washington on Manhattan Island, 1772. Though Corbin is depicted in the painting above wearing a dress she disguised herself as a man in order to contribute to the efforts on the battlefield.
 
During the Revolutionary War it was commonplace for the wife of a soldier to accompany her husband to war only to mostly perform activities such as doing laundry, preparing meals and attending to he injured. Though this is exactly what Margaret Corbin did initially when she joined her husband John as a member of the Pennsylvania military at the age of 21, four years later Corbin would disguise herself as a man to help her husband load his cannon during the Battle of Fort Washington on Manhattan Island. During the fighting John was killed leaving Margaret alone to “man” the cannon. Which she did until she nearly lost her left arm due to British army fire. Corbin would survive and for her participation in the Battle of Fort Washington she was officially recognized as the first woman “combat veteran” and subsequently became the first woman to receive a military pension.

Many other women would follow in Corbin’s pioneering footsteps including Deborah Sampson who dressed as a man in order to fight in George Washington’s army in 1782. Sampson’s heroic charade lasted for a year until she became injured and was no longer able to hide the fact that she was a woman and was honorably discharged. During the Civil War and the Spanish American War in 1898 there are several accounts of women masquerading as men in order to fight on the front lines along with their male counterparts, as well as serving their country assisting with war related activities such as espionage. Though women would participate in WWI and WWII and lose their lives as a result, it was not until 1976 that women were allowed to enlist in the military. Instances of women fighting in other wars and acting as snipers, and members of resistance efforts in places like France during WWII were common.

Speaking of snipers, the story of Red Army sniper Lyudmila Pavlichenko is a compelling one. Pavlichenko was an expert female sniper from Ukraine who fought the Nazis during WWII and was credited with killing 187 Germans during her first 75 days as a member of the Soviet resistance. That number would grow to 309 with 36 of her total kills being German snipers, though it’s widely believed that her actual kill count is likely much higher as there was not always a third-party to witness them all. The German army was rightfully so terrified of Pavlichenko they took to broadcasting appeals over loudspeakers to have the 25-year-old killing machine join their troops instead of wiping them out. Pavlichenko would of course turn down the offer (which according to historians included the promise of “candy”). There were 2000 female snipers who fought with the Red Army during WWII—and Pavlichenko would be one of the 500 who walked away with their lives.

Below, I’ve included some pretty stunning images of women taking up arms. I’ve also posted the trailer for the 2015 film based on Lyudmila Pavlichenko’s brave exploits Battle for Sevastopol. Stay strong, sisters.
 

Red Army sniper Lyudmila Pavlichenko.
 

Armenian guerilla fighters during the Hamidian massacres, 1895.
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Abbie Hoffman’s mournful musings on watching Janis Joplin shoot up
11.17.2016
09:33 am

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Activism
Books
Drugs
Music
Politics

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Abbie Hoffman’s 1969 Woodstock Nation is an essential read for students of the intersections of rock music and politics. Hoffman wrote it in 1969 while he was awaiting the Chicago Eight conspiracy trial in which he was a co-defendant for inciting the 1968 Chicago DNC riots, and it’s a stream-of-semiconsciousness musing on the state of American youth culture, specifically as of the massive and zeitgeist-altering Woodstock music festival.

That festival was famously full of bummers—rain, the brown acid, goddamned Sha Na Na—and Hoffman himself was one of them, too. He worked hard to establish a “Movement City” on the Bethel, NY concert site, intending to try to radicalize concertgoers. But the tent was so far from the stage as to seem to marginalize politics from the festival. Hoffman, in protest, famously took the stage during The Who’s set to scold the audience for having fun while John Sinclair rotted in jail for having two joints. (In fairness there were probably way more than two joints worth of weed per audience member on that site so he maybe kinda had a point, though he was inarguably a peevish dick about making it. Also, interrupting THE WHO for fuck’s sake seems a poor way to win converts.) Just as famous as Hoffman’s tirade was Who guitarist Pete Townshend’s unequivocally disapproving removal of Hoffman from the stage—by swatting him off with his guitar. That move alone earned a huge swell of applause.

Hoffman targets Townshend in one of Woodstock Nation’s more memorable passages, but what concerns us today comes from “The Head Withers as the Body Grows,” an epilogue Hoffman wrote especially for the 1971 Pocketbooks reprint of the book. Excerpts from it were reproduced in the October 1971 issue of Circus under the provocative title “Woodstock: a Tin Pan Alley Rip Off,” and they offer a poignant view of Hoffman’s disillusionment about the failure of the revolution, the deaths of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, and the ascension to complacent millionaire stardom of most of the other important rockers. And the article opens with a terribly sad, elegiac passage about watching Joplin shoot heroin, and what her death would mean, not to music, but to the music business.
 

 

Somewhere deep inside the bowels of the monster born in Bethel also lay the kernel for its destruction. Perhaps it was the egocentric greed of the Rock Empire itself. Maybe it was the strain of cannibalism inherited from our parents and exaggerated when cramped into railroad flats in the slums or on muddy shoes in front of the gargantuan stages. The rapes, the bad acid burns, stealing from each other, they, too, were part of the Woodstock experience, if not the Nation. Smack and speed didn’t help. “Shooting up” is more than just a casual expression. It is symbolic of the suicidal death trip, the frustration, the despair. It is another way to bring the apocalypse a little closer.

Janis was the heroine of the Woodstock Nation. Bold and sassy, her energy could ignite millions. I saw her perform all over the country. In the funky old Aragon Ballroom in Chicago, in the Fillmores West and East, on TV, backstage where she would line up a row of twenty studs, in the Chelsea Hotel bar and on the street. She used to drop into our place at all sorts of weird hours when we lived around the corner from the Fillmore East. She was the only person I ever saw use a needle. When she popped in a load and pulled out the works, she’d cluck her tongue making a sucking noise and her face would break out into a shit-eatin grin. The very thought of it makes me shiver. You couldn’t know Janis without knowing her death was near and you couldn’t know the Rock Empire without knowing her death would mean a bundle to the horde of enterprising vultures who choose to pick at the corpse.

More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
‘A Pig is a Pig’: Wendy O. Williams on sexism and female objectification in 1981
11.14.2016
10:40 am

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Activism
Feminism
Heroes
Music

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The Plasmatics at The Rathskeller in Boston. Photo generously provided by Mike Mayhan.

 

You Can Dress Up In Disguises
You Can Try To Mesmerize ‘em
You Can Surround
Yourself With Friends
Who Tell You What You Want To Hear
But In The End No Matter What You Do
You Will Come Shining Through

 
A few lyrics from the Plasmatics 1981 song “A Pig is a Pig”
 
I wasn’t old enough to truly appreciate Plasmatics vocalist and heavy metal crusader Wendy O. Williams during her punk-era heyday. But by the time I figured out who I wanted to be sometime in the late 80s I was fully in awe of her.

Williams was an inspiration for me back when I had become brave enough to put myself out into the world—writing about music, weirdness and other lowbrow pursuits. She was confident, strong and never ever took a backseat to anyone. Not the press who hounded her, people who flat out didn’t understand her and chose to label her as “obscene,” or the cops who sent her to the hospital when she defied them. Last week was a challenge to me as a human. I know I wasn’t the only one who laid in bed a lot because the contemplation of what our future looks like was too much for me to handle while standing up. I’m now past my “mourning” period and have moved on to being very fucking angry.

Basically, I hate conformity. I hate people telling me what to do. It makes me want to smash things. So-called normal behaviour patterns make me so bored, I could throw up!—W.O.W.

As a woman, forward thinker—and a mother—I want you to listen to Wendy share her feelings spoken some 35 years ago about sexism and female objectification—two negative attitudes that have become even more magnified (as well as seemingly completely acceptable to half of the residents of the U.S.) of late. They echo the spirit of lyrics of the Plasmatics powerful (and timely) song, “Pig is a Pig” (from the band’s second release Beyond the Valley of 1984) which Williams’ references during the short interview with Jeanne Beker on the Toronto-based The Music Show back in 1981. While trying to sort through all the madness that has been the past week, like many of you I relied on music to get me through as nothing else made any fucking sense. When I came across the footage of Wendy O’s interview I felt a distinct wave of reassurance thanks to her powerful words and point-blank fuck-this-bullshit attitude which are very much reflective of the many emotions I’ve been rollercoastering through myself.

More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Dancing on the grave of civilization (New York in the 80s & why I refuse to remove my boogie shoes)
11.11.2016
10:10 am

Topics:
Activism
History
Music
Politics
Pop Culture

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Paradise Garage
 
When I got to New York in 1977 it was to play on a Monday night with my band at CBGB. At the time, CBGB was becoming a magnet for bands from all over the world. But despite its growing rep as a music mecca, CBGB’s early days had the feel of a clubhouse for a very specific type of rock fan: A hang for rebels who loved rock distilled to its essence, poets who found their muse in the mayhem of loud amps and the thunder of drums and a handful of rock critics who desperately needed something fresh to wrap their heads around. Playing to a nearly empty house, my band saw CBGB in a less romantic light. It was a dump. But on those nights when The Ramones, Patti Smith, The Damned, X-Ray Spex, The Dead Boys etc. played, CBGB was the center of the rock and roll universe.

Whether playing CBGB or not I probably spent most nights in 77/78 either there or at Max’s. It was the last great era of rock and roll as far as I’m concerned. We’ll be talking about The Ramones, Talking Heads and Patti Smith long after grunge bands like Alice In Chains and Soundgarden are long forgotten (if they’re not already). As far as music of this new century goes, I’m not sure much of it will be remembered 20 years from now. I’m not hearing anything that really blows me away. I wish I did. Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m just an old fuck living in the past. But that past, particularly the glorious whole of the New York Club scene of the 70s and early 80s, was pretty fucking wonderful. Seen from a passing satellite I can imagine Manhattan, Brooklyn and The Bronx looking like a giant throbbing meatpit glimmering with copious amounts of sweat and dripping with… (use your imagination).

Punk, rap, disco and Latin music were drifting in and out of each other and the barriers separating uptown from downtown were being shattered. Blondie, B-52s and DEVO were being played at Studio 54 and bands like Liquid Liquid, Bush Tetras and Konk were taking disco’s four-on-the-floor beat and putting some angsty urban edge into the mix. The bottom line is people were dancing everywhere, even in clubs where people had been too cool to get crazy. Leaning on the bar and striking hipster poses looked pretty square when hundreds of people were going mad on the dance floor to The Gun Club’s invocation to “explode to the call… move, move, sex beat, go…!”

My own circuit included Danceteria, Peppermint Lounge, Mudd Club, Club 57 and Hurrah’s where new wave, post-punk and ska bands played regularly and deejays like Mark Kamins, Anita Sarko and Dany Johnson kept the crowds in perpetual motion.The segue from live bands to vinyl was an art that was being mastered as the scene unfolded and the best deejays were being born on the spot.

At downtown clubs like The Paradise Garage and The Saint deejays Larry Levan and Alan Dodd spun dance floor filling beats for predominantly gay clienteles who embraced divas Loleatta Holloway, Donna Summer, Grace Jones and Sylvester as well as euro-disco and the very beginnings of house music. These were the test markets for new singles by new artists and the latest dance re-mixes. If a 12-inch extended dance mix worked at The Paradise Garage it would work anywhere. It wasn’t long before rock bands like The Clash and Blondie were hitting the studios to re-work their tracks into dance mixes. No one was listening to radio. We were all too busy nightclubbing.
 

 
Tim Lawrence’s epic new history of nightlife in the city that never sleeps, Life And Death On The New York Dance Floor, 1980-1983, captures everything I’ve been talking about and so much more. In its six hundred thrilling pages, Lawrence gives us a close-up view of a scene that lasted from 1980 to 1983 before AIDS blew out the lights on a party that felt like it would go on forever. San Francisco in the 1960s had hippies, free love and psychedelics. It was the place to go to shake off the straightjacket of religious repression and cultural oppression for a generation of young people. In the less sunny and distinctly more frightening New York of the seventies and eighties, young people also gathered but with fewer support systems in play and far more obstacles than the free-flowing Aquarian era. Still, we made our own new version of paradise. It was rough-edged and more cynical but it was alive with energy that made us all feel that the future was ours. If there’s anything that makes Lawrence’s book ultimately a sad one is how quickly it all ended and how random and bewildering that end was. The openness and freedom we were all feeling was suddenly thrown under the wheels of some demonic subway train that had come rumbling out of nowhere.

When AIDS descended on New York it was a quiet bomb that shattered our world. For me, it hit home when I got a call that a friend of mine was dying from this new mystifying disease. I put down the phone not knowing exactly what it all meant. What the fuck was going on? My friend who was dying was Klaus Nomi. I had known Klaus for several years and had encouraged him in the very early stages of his music career. I helped him pick out a guitar (blue Fender Jaguar) and taught him three chords, enough to get him started. Ironically, we ended up on the same record label. Klaus epitomized New York’s multi-faceted music scene by crossing every possible boundary and creating something modern and new. He was ahead of his time, both wonderful and tragic.

Life And Death On The New York Dance Floor, 1980-1983 is a remarkable achievement as history and as entertainment. A sequel to his Love Saves the Day: A History of American Dance Music Culture, 1970-1979, it’s a celebration and a eulogy of a New York that we may never see again. Dance floors and rock clubs have been replaced by chain stores and condos. The funky storefronts and theaters that housed music venues and discotheques are now homes to the rich and fabulous. No one dances anymore. Everyone is too busy making money to pay for their little bit of real estate that once was the breeding ground for artists, musicians and writers. Where bodegas, pizzerias, bakeries, dive bars and cheap ethnic restaurants once stood we now have Starbucks, The Gap and $100 sushi handrolls. Tim Lawrence’s book is a reminder that the heart and soul of any culture, any city, is in its art. From the great Times Square jazz clubs to the Boogie Down Bronx and CBGB on the Bowery, New York has always been one of the world’s great music centers. Once we lose touch with that magic we’re left with an island of commerce and concrete. We not only lose part of our soul we lose our collective identity. The value of cities are measured by their art. No one comes to New York because it has a better Starbucks or Chili’s. People flocked to Manhattan even in the worst of times because we had clubs, theaters and museums no one else had. People were willing to brave the Bowery because there was something magic going on in a dive bar that stank of beer and urine but seemed like heaven to fans of adventurous new music. CBGB’s heyday really only lasted a couple of years but those years were game changers for rock music and musicians. The good stuff is eternal.

In the past few days I’ve been in a state of shock and awe. Despondent to point of paralysis. This piece I’m writing now is helping me get a grip on myself. As I write it, I am remembering all the battles I’ve fought since I was 15 and marched on the Pentagon to protest the Vietnam War. I am remembering Nixon and Reagan and I’m also remembering that during every dark era the arts have flourished. As war raged and friends were drafted and killed, we saw a golden age of rock and roll emerge in the sixties. The Beatles, Fugs, Sly Stone, Jefferson Airplane all sang songs of peace and insurrection based on liberating our bodies and minds. The art scene of the ‘60s was a massive detonation of mind-expanding paintings, films and literature. In the 1970s, when New York was dying and the government under Ford fucked us off, there seemed to be no light nowhere. But punk rock reared its beautiful spiky head like a pus-filled boil bursting and expelling the poisons that had been building in a city and citizenry under siege. We didn’t run, we didn’t hide. We partied! Dance floors exploded with free spirits moving, grinding, slithering to beats that were sexy, tantric, primal and emancipating. The songs were anthemic invocations to stand up against the machinations of death and doom. Gloria Gaynor led the charge with lyrics that were a call out to each and every one of us to not despair, to not lose hope and to survive!

Do you think I’d crumble
Did you think I’d lay down and die?

Oh no, not I, I will survive
Oh, as long as I know how to love, I know I’ll stay alive
I’ve got all my life to live
And I’ve got all my love to give and I’ll survive
I will survive

So as we face this very uncertain time it’s important to not crumble to not lose your anger. For me, my anger right now is what clarifies who I am and what I believe in. This is not a time to go soft and get warm and fuzzy and talk about healing. Keep your anger close. Consider it an ally. But be precise and informed when you use it. In the meantime, this is the perfect time to find avenues to articulate and express your feelings without risking your freedom and safety. Nixon once quoted the old proverb “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.”  Fuck him. I have a different angle: “when the going gets tough, the tough get down.” Let’s dance this mess around!
 

Dany Johnson
 
Here’s a mix to get down to. It’s based on a set list from Dany Johnson who was the house DJ at Club 57 circa 1980. Get happy, get healthy and get ready. We have work to do.

Blondie – I KNOW BUT I DON’T KNOW
Joe Cuba Sextet – BANG BANG
Delta 5 – MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS
Bootsy’s Rubber Band – BOOTZILLA
Talking Heads – WARNING SIGN
Lynn Collins – ROCK ME AGAIN….
Pylon – GRAVITY
The Cramps – I’M CRAMPED
Spoonie Gee – MONSTER JAM
B52s – DANCE THIS MESS AROUND
Frankie Smith – DOUBLE DUTCH BUS
Marie and Les Garcons – RE-BOP
Fatback Band – KING TIM III
Lulu – THE BOAT I ROW
Bush Tetras – TOO MANY CREEPS

 

 
Update: New York City dance club visionary DJ David Mancuso who hosted groundbreaking Love Saves The Day dance parties and opened The Loft on Lower Broadway in 1970 died yesterday (Nov.14). He was 72. He created an inclusive club scene where everybody felt at home and set the tone for virtually every dance club that followed in his wake.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
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