‘No Slam Dancing’: Black Flag, Dead Kennedys and… Jon Stewart?

Henry Rollins and Greg Ginn during a Black Flag show
I’ve read an absolutely embarrassing amount of books on pop music for someone who’s never read Dostoyevsky, and over the years I’ve learned to make my recommendations with care. I’ve found out the hard way that not everyone is as interested in Ronnie Spector’s autobiography as I am (ingrates), and that it’s difficult to convince someone that you don’t have to be a metal fan to enjoy a book on the history of heavy metal. However, I’m completely serious when I say everyone will enjoy No Slam Dancing, No Stage Diving, No Spikes: An Oral History of the Legendary City Gardens—it’s just that universal.

To give you some background, City Gardens was a music venue in the most unlikely of places, Trenton, New Jersey, a city that’s been on the rapid decline for decades. After the assassination of Martin Luther King, riots ravaged the downtown, and even the cops were looting (for welding masks and catcher’s helmets to protect their faces from flying debris). Insurance companies began to drop businesses’ claims, deindustrialization exacerbated unemployment, and suburban flight grew in droves—Trenton, NJ remains a pretty dismal place, economically.

However, where there is a void, there is also opportunity, and a giant warehouse in a rough part of town became the site of a musical oasis, all through the tireless efforts of a few committed fans and staff. The actual City Gardens building had been re-purposed many times before, from a grocery store to a car dealership, but when it was reopened as a disco in 1980, local DJ Randy Now approached the owner, hoping to find a venue receptive to his New Wave tastes. What began as a few weekly dance nights quickly paved the way to booking some of the best bands in underground music.

The Descendents in front of their perilous tour bus
Before you write off City Gardens as just another scummy punk venue, realize two things. First, the Trenton neighborhood it called home was volatile. While slam-dancing can certainly incur some injuries, to say City Gardens was merely “violent” is an understatement. It saw a lawsuit in 1981, not a year after it began booking bands, when a woman was brutally beaten with a pool cue in inside the venue. And this is to say nothing of the skinhead riot that occurred later. The late Dave Brockie, better knows as GWAR singer Oderus Orungus, said City Gardens was so bad, they’d never go there as fans. Second, when I say “some of the best bands in underground music,” I think City Gardens’ booking philosophy is best summed up in Mickey Ween’s forward when he said, “they did not cater to the audience.”

This was not just a punk or hard rock club. For every Black Flag and Danzig (who had their very first show there), there was a Bo Diddley, Sinead O’Connor, Lydia Lunch, Iggy Pop, DEVO, Bauhaus, The Ramones (who played numerous times), Ricky Nelson, The Violent Femmes, RIcky Nelson, or Toots and the Maytals! The Daily Show‘s Jon Stewart was bartending during a Butthole Surfers set with a topless dancer and some careless DIY pyrotechnics! The Beastie Boys almost didn’t play and got their tires slashed, presumably for being late! Someone threatened to break down the dressing room door to stab Jello Biafra! The chaos and sheer wildness of City Gardens is what truly made it unique, and it even hosted all ages shows!

Al Jourgensen of Ministry
Co-Author Amy Yates Wuelfing pinpoints the preposterous success of it all:

City Gardens was in the middle of nowhere. Not Philly, not New York, but it was still a big club.  That fact that it was so close, and in the middle this dead zone, made the community of people who went there stronger and tighter. It was almost like college, you saw the same people all the time so they became your friends. That was the main thing for me. And unlike the clubs in Philly and New York, the pretentious element wasn’t really there.

What’s truly captivating about No Slam Dancing is the story-telling—it’s a complete oral history, meticulously collected from the memories and reflections of bands, employees, regulars, and all manner of City Gardens alumni. Over a hundred interviews were conducted to create an amazing compendium of anecdotes, and they don’t pull punches. Not everyone comes off well, and sometimes everything goes wrong, but the spirit of the moment is exciting and ambitious, and it’s all the more inspiring when you realize the entire fourteen year musical renaissance of Trenton, New Jersey was built from the ground up by Randy Now, the hobbyist DJ with a day job as a mailman. It’s an insane story, and I highly suggest you pick it up.

Below, Jon Stewart, Ian Mackaye and others talk about City Gardens in a trailer for Riot on the Dance Floor: The story of Randy Now and City Gardens.

Written by Amber Frost | Discussion
‘You get NOTHING!’ Jon Stewart rips the GOP shutdown with one of his most profound punchlines, ever

Since none of them probably watch The Daily Show, why not share this clip with every idiot Republican you know, work with or are related to? (Every single blood-relative of mine is a Republican and a Creationist, they don’t seek out Jon Stewart. This morning, he’s coming to them.)

Stewart lays out what’s at stake in the current crisis in Washington so clearly that even a Republican could understand it.

His punchline at the very end is pretty profound. This isn’t necessarily Jon Stewart at his funniest, but this is a must-see segment nonetheless.

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Of All People: Did Obama plagiarize Paul Ryan in his inaugural speech?

Well Jon Stewart seems to think so and he makes a great case for it, too!

Imagine for a moment that you’re Paul Ryan and you’re watching this. Delightful to contemplate him getting his nose rubbed in it like this, isn’t it?

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Bleak Friday: Jon Stewart batters Walmart and Hostess, sticks up for unions
10:58 am

Class War

Jon Stewart

Jon Stewart reminds American Walmart workers why they’re lucky they aren’t working for Walmart in Bangladesh…

When I saw the part with John Payne, the CEO of Wstreet.com, as his lower third identifies him, on Fox News (2 minutes in), I wished that I could reach into my TV set and strangle him.

How long can it be before this douchebag is offered a contract on Fox News? He’s already proven his fealty to fucking idiocy, now it’s time for Roger Ailes to step up with financial rewards for this heroic act of complete asshatery…

Part 2 after the jump…

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Jon Stewart rips Paul Ryan’s phony soup kitchen ‘clean-up’ photo-op: ‘At least give a shit’

Jon Stewart skewered Paul Ryan’s obviously staged photo op Monday at an Ohio homeless shelter, where the Republican VP candidate washed dishes, already CLEAN dishes:

Someone really needed to say this (and say it just like this):

“Do you know how hard it is to make volunteering at a homeless shelter look like a negative thing?” Stewart said. “And how dead inside does a national presidential campaign make you that you could be handed clean dishes and instead of saying, ‘Uh, you know these are clean right?’ You go, ‘Where’s my scrubby sponge?’”

If Ryan intends to manipulate the public’s emotions with staged photo opportunities, at least do it with a little “oomph,” Stewart added. “Even if you don’t really give a shit about the homeless, at least give a shit about making us think you give a shit. Don’t phone in your cynicism.”

One of the soup kitchen’s volunteers, Juanita Sherba, told Youngstown’s Viddy.com:

“It was the phoniest piece of baloney I’ve ever been associated with. In hindsight, I would have never let him in the door. They couldn’t have cared less.”

Sherba also said that Congressman Ryan seemed to no interest in talking to the homeless who depend on the shelter. Reporters were prevented from covering the exchange that Ryan had with a handful of homeless men outside of the facility.

What a nauseating little dingle-berry Paul Ryan truly is. Can you imagine if Ryan had shown up just a little earlier and he was obliged to sit down with the poors and EAT THEIR FOOD?

That would have been fuckin’ COMEDY GOLD.


Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Jon Stewart on the debate: ‘Obama lost even though Romney was lying his ass off the entire night’
09:04 am


Jon Stewart
The Daily Show

A few of you emailed me wondering why I didn’t weigh in with my 2 cents on the debate and it was simply because I was aghast at what I saw. And just so there is no confusion, I saw a bravura performance from a lying plutocrat shitbag who will do or say anything to win the election and a shockingly listless Barack Obama who could barely seem to rouse himself out of a Valium stupor long enough to babble for a moment or two.

Then I watched the media report on how Romney had won the debate—it looked that way to me—but never mentioning that he blatantly lied about everything. It was also covered so thoroughly on every nook and cranny of the Internet by folks who were apparently left less slack-jawed than I was, so I saw no point. To be honest, this election can’t be over fast enough to suit me. I’m bored by it and sick to death of writing about it. Enough already.

Still that didn’t keep me from being curious about what Jon Stewart would have to say…

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
‘A New New Low’: Jon Stewart gleefully tweaks Sarah Palin

Don’t drink anything as you are watching this. You have been duly warned.

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
The ‘S word’: Jon Stewart comes out of the closet as a socialist


“Socialism. The new “S word”—it’s the worst thing you can call someone. It’s like the “C word” and the “N word” had a baby.”

Comrade Jon Stewart


Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Credit where credit is due: Jon Stewart admires Mitt Romney’s bold political strategy

Available at Typotees

Too, too good.

In the last few sentences, Stewart connects the dots in a way that even logic-leaping Glenn Beck himself (remember him?) would admire… and perhaps wholeheartedly agree with!

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
A young Jon Stewart in mosh pit at Dead Kennedys show
03:41 pm

Pop Culture

Dead Kennedys
Jon Stewart

The Daily Show’s future host Jon Stewart (then known as William and Mary student Jon Leibowitz) snapped in the mosh pit at a Dead Kennedys/Front Line show in Richmond, Virginia sometime in the early 1980s.


Via Filthy Pit/Henry Baum!


Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Jon Stewart on the media coverage of the Tea party vs Occupy Wall Street
09:46 am


Tea party
Occupy Wall Street
Jon Stewart

Brilliant analysis, as usual from Jon Stewart and The Daily Show. When you’re watching this, contemplate how the Fox News clips featured in this segment will look when viewed again a few years from now. The Fox News and CNBC talking heads all look, to me, like people who are on the wrong side of history.

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion