follow us in feedly
Love Saves the Day: An interview with the legendary NYC club pioneer and DJ David Mancuso
11.18.2016
07:02 am

Topics:
Dance
Music
Queer

Tags:
Disco
RIP
LGBT
NYC
David Mancuso
The Loft


 
As if 2016 didn’t suck enough already, Monday night saw the passing of one of the most influential (yet unheralded) figures in late 20th century popular culture. That man’s name was David Mancuso, and if you’ve ever danced to great records on a great sound system in a room full of smiling people and thought “could Heaven ever be as good as this?” then David Mancuso is the person you have to thank.

Mancuso, a one-time follower of LSD guru Timothy Leary structured his parties into three stages, and borrowing from The Tibetan Book Of The Dead (as Leary had for his guided LSD sessions) he termed them “Bardos”:

“The first Bardo would be very smooth, perfect, calm. The second Bardo would be like a circus. And the third Bardo was about re-entry, so people would go back into the outside world relatively smoothly.”

The parties Mancuso started throwing in his Manhattan home in 1970–which eventually picked up the moniker “The Loft”—are the absolute ground zero for dance culture as we know it today. This isn’t some hyperbolic statement: practically every one of the great NYC DJs who emerged during the 1970s and 80s—from Larry Levan to Frankie Knuckles to Danny Krivit to Kool Herc to Afrika Islam to David Morales to Junior Vasquez to Danny Tenaglia—are indebted in one way or another to Mancuso’s work (many being regular attendees at his Loft parties). And that’s just the DJs. Plenty of club owners were inspired to open their own nightclubs after visiting The Loft, often with the same shared values as Mancuso’s: peace, love, unity and diversity. While music was the main focus, socially the Loft was incredibly mixed. From day one the majority of the patrons were both homosexual and non-white. The freedom that could be found on The Loft’s dancefloor helped attendees fully express their (often marginalized) personalities, bond with people from both their own social circles and further afield, and helped them shape a vision together of the kind of world they would like to live in once the party had ended and they had left Mancsuo’s home. All to a spellbinding soundtrack carefully chosen by Mancuso himself, music that would later be classified as “disco,” but which was, in reality, simply the very finest in funk, soul, jazz, rock and electronica.

I was lucky enough to meet and interview David Mancuso, for my Discopia fanzine, back in 2003. He had recently come out of a period of relative inactivity, and was touring the world, trying to set up each and every venue he played in to be as close as possible to his New York home. I met him in Glasgow’s CCA, in between testing out the specially-hired audiophile event PA and beginning to blow up the hundreds of balloons that would become his party’s’ signature decoration. What follows is an abridged version of that interview, and while I would have liked for there to have been a happier occasion for digging this talk out and dusting it off, it’s still a fitting tribute to a man who changed not just my own life, but the lives of countless others. Rest in peace, David!

Dangerous Minds: You’ve been DJing for a long time. What is it that makes you still want to do it?

Mancuso: Well, actually, that was the last thing I wanted to do! And to this day it’s the thing that scares me the most.

What, DJing?!

Mancuso: Yeah. I mean it’s not something I fantasized about or wanted to do. But as I started doing my own parties I sort of found where I could be the most help. Also I was into sound systems, so there was a whole relationship there. But the DJ part of it really, and not to be vague, but the music really plays us. Really it’s an opportunity where one can shed their ego. Sort of like having an out of body experience. So I feel there’s a responsibility with the sound, with certain aspects and so forth, that I can contribute to.

Is it still going in New York?

Mancuso: Yeah, I’m about to do my 33rd anniversary. I don’t do it as frequently, as I don’t have a permanent location. The last four or five years the rents and things have gotten so astronomical and the parties are not designed to make a lot of money, okay? And I’m not into having a bar. It’s a very private, very personal thing that’s me and my friends. That’s what this is all about, it’s not about being a club. It’s not out there in the commercial world. The music relates to all these situations, yes, but it’s a very personal thing.

Can you tell me a bit about the sound system and how it is set up?  

Mancuso: Well basically it’s set up around the fundamentals of physics, of sound. And this is not magic, some kind of formula for having, you know, a really great sound system. It’s not about that at all. It is set up and designed to be honest and respectful to the music. You wanna hear the music not the sound system. Usually what happens is, you’ve probably seen this yourself, they put four stacks up, then face them toward the middle.

Right.

Mancuso: Well that’s just not how things work. Your voice is coming from there, my voice is coming from here… You get my point? It’s not coming from [over there], there’s not two more of us. But that’s a formula people have used and in some cases they just don’t know, but it’s got nothing to do with music standards. I mean if you take two flashlights and you switch two beams at each other they cancel.

So you start with the centre ‘cos there’ll be three speakers. The centre channel is mono. It has a lot to do with the vocals. You come down the room, and there’s two more, one in each corner. Then two on the sides which are delayed, but reinforce the sound. So whatever the artist is doing [it replicates], just as my voice is travelling from this point down that room as if you were sitting down there and vice versa. You relay exactly what’s happening. It’s all mathematics. So it’s set up to be as though there people, standing there playing instruments.
 

An action man styled as David Mancuso by Reggie Know
 
Over here [UK] we get told a lot about certain clubs and the Loft is one of them…

Mancuso: Correction, it’s not a club, please! Sorry, I got a little out of hand…

That’s okay.

Mancuso: ...but once you start going in that direction you start getting away from what the Loft is all about. I mean I’m here on a tour, but this is not the Loft. First of all the Loft is a feeling. While there are certain aspects that reflect the Loft and how it develops, it’s not the same. The name “The Loft” itself is not a name I gave it, it’s a given name. People eventually started saying that, ‘cos what is it? Oh, it’s my house! This is not about the club scene. I find some of them are really good, but that’s not what this is about. Sorry, I’m not trying to give you a hard time.

No that’s cool, it is a distinction that need to be made. But in terms of the clubs that people hear about over here, especially the New York stuff like the Paradise Garage and the Gallery, did you go to any of them?

Mancuso: Yeah, of course. I mean, I know Nicky [Siano] very well,  I knew Mike Brody very well, I knew Larry [Levan] very well, and the bar for quality as far as a sound system goes was much higher. Part of what the Loft did was contribute to that. People started, in about ’73, opening up other lofts and things, and they had to have a good sound system ya’know. So that’s one of the things the Loft has done. But these days the quality has gone down, in a lot of situations.

In terms of general quality?

Mancuso: Yeah, be it musical, or less musical. I mean you ever go into a place and you can’t make out the words, or you can make out some of them? It should be very precise.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Tour the bohemian Lower East Side of 1995 for alternative fashion, underground art and punk opera!


 
These videos, from documentarian Corey Shaff, are a record of a New York long since passed, despite being only 20 years old. Yes, the rapid gentrification of the Lower East side has rendered the areas you see here nearly unrecognizable, but before you bemoan the lost “real” NYC, it’s worth remembering that the changing landscape of New York is its most consistent feature—you’ll notice some of the subjects in these shorts talking about how different the neighborhood is from the one they remember. Of course the most recent changes in New York has left it all but unlivable for the working people and artists it once boasted, though somehow they keep coming, and finding a way to stay.

Shaff covers some fascinating ground in these three little shorts. There’s a five-minute tour of Ludlow Street, where little theaters and punk bridal shops and millineries exist alongside older businesses, like a pillow shop where the owner still uses techniques from the old country. It’s a cool look at at artistically thriving area with old and new artisans—there’s even a shot of The Mercury Lounge with its original signage at the end. The longer second film centers on 2B, a gritty art space that operate for nine years before being replaced by a corporate drug store. My favorite film is the third one, a look at the Amato Opera House on the Bowery. The tiny little venue had world class artists crammed onto a tiny stage, spitting distance from the audience, for a truly intimate yet grand experience. Shaff’s wife Stefanie Lindahl says the documentary was a little too gritty for some viewers:

I remember how Corey wanted to juxtapose the Bowery ‘bums’ with the goings on within the opera house, but PBS nixed the idea as ‘too scary,’ so he had to cut out the footage.

It’s a weirdly selective documentary that covers the Bowery in ‘95 yet leaves out the bums, but this is the sentiment and aversion that has shaped the New York of today—one that prefers Applebee’s to artists.

Watch ‘em after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
‘Watching My Name Go By’: Must-see vintage short on graffiti in 1976 NYC
07.16.2015
11:01 am

Topics:
Art
Crime

Tags:
documentary
1970s
graffiti
NYC


 
In 1974 Norman Mailer wrote an essay for Esquire called “The Faith of Graffiti”—a gripping and sympathetic investigation on the defacement of public and private property as an urban art movement of complex and fascinating depth. Mailer’s work eventually produced two collaborative pictorial books—The Faith of Graffiti and Watching My Name Go By. The beauty of tagging and graffiti art is almost taken for granted today, especially since artists like Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat legitimized the genre to the art world in both its unlawful execution and its distinctive aesthetic, but Mailer was doing something new by recording the phenomenon as an organic outpouring of artistic expression, and this short 1976 documentary—also named “Watching My Name Go By”—is equally open-minded in its portrayal of graffiti artists and their critics.

The documentary isn’t just mindless cheerleading either; time is given to community members who hate seeing their city constantly vandalized (though quite a few also admire the work), and on some level you have to feel bad for the public servants charged with cleaning up after the kids. At the same time, no one is shocked by it; in addition to the graffitists’ own reflections on their craft, the “civilian” interviewees offer thoughtful insights on the phenomenon. There is a certain amount of juvenile nihilism of course, but some theorize this outlet of masculine delinquency as youthful rebellion. One official points out that graffiti isn’t a practice relegated to “minorities” or “kids from broken homes,” and from the accounts of the kids themselves, the graffiti “craze” appears to be appealing most of all as a hobby, rather than a denouncement of society or conscious act of dissent.
 

 
Via Flavorpill

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
The Terminal Bar: ‘New York’s most notorious watering hole’
04.15.2015
05:00 pm

Topics:
Drugs
Movies
Pop Culture
Queer

Tags:
NYC
Terminal Bar


The notoriously scuzzball Terminal Bar, as seen in Martin Scorsese’s ‘Taxi Driver.’

Though I may yearn for the rents of the 1970s, the “grit” of “old New York” can be heavily over-romanticized. Yes, it was cheaper, and the arts were more vibrant and the population more varied. There was shitloads of violent crimes, parts of the city were really dirty and dilapidated, and other parts just looked like some one had dropped a bomb on them.
 

 
Nonetheless, historical records of the all-too-recent period of NYC brutality are in high demand. Terminal Bar was most certainly an “old New York” institution. The infamously sleazy Port Authority-adjacent saloon opened in 1972, catering first to working class Irish-American toughs, then more for pimps, pushers, prostitutes, down-and-out drunks and drug addicts, finally attracting a primarily gay, black and male clientele before closing in 1982. During its ten-year run, bartender Sheldon “Shelly” Nadelman (the son-in-law of the bar’s owner Murray Goldman) documented his patrons and the area around the bar with a keen eye, and his collection, Terminal Bar: A Photographic Record of New York’s Most Notorious Watering Hole continues to engross those of us with a taste for the louche.
 

 
Calling himself a “half-assed artist,” Nadelman mainly worked in portraiture of his regulars—beautiful black and whites of usually overlooked and often avoided faces. In 2002 his son Stefan made a small documentary, Terminal Bar, that took the 2003 Sundance Jury Prize for short film—you can now watch it in its entirety (and in HD!) below.
 

 
In a combination of interview, narration and slideshow, you get a taste of just how wild—and how alive—one little bar could be. The Renzo Piano-designed New York Times building now stands where the Shelly Nadelman once took his customers’ portraits.
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
The Screaming Phantoms, The Dirty Ones & The Satan Souls: Check out this 1974 map of Brooklyn gangs
12.16.2014
07:26 pm

Topics:
History

Tags:
New York City
NYC
gangs
Brooklyn


The Dirty Ones, because Williamsburg has always been chic.
 
1979’s The Warriors became a cult classic by creating a fantastically dystopian world of lawlessness roamed by stylized gangs of the Romantic variety, but the reality of 1970’s NYC gangs was… well, actually… not that much different from their epic, fictionalized versions onscreen. In fact, the fear of gang violence at the time was so fevered, the film was actually blamed for crimes committed against people who were coincidentally coming from or going to the movie. This map from The New York Times is dated August 1, 1974, and the names of the gangs are so dramatic, it’s easy to see how fact and fiction could blur in the eyes of a terrified populace. 

The folks over at The Bowery Boys blog even dug up a few details on the “activities” of some of the gangs listed, including The Young Barons (an altercation that ended in one death and the slicing off of someone’s nose, 1972), a battle between the Devils Rebels and the Screaming Phantoms (two rebels were killed, 1973), and the 1974 extortion dealings of the Outlaws, the Tomahawks, the Jolly Stompers and B’Nai Zaken. If that last one threw you for a loop, B’Nai Zaken is a phrase largely associated with Ethiopian Jews, and not (as I had hoped), a bunch of Hassidim with nunchucks.

There was a even a 1973 report that a few local gangs had been cast in an autobiographical gang film,The Education of Sonny Carson, perhaps paving the way for Walter Hill to later do the same thing with The Warriors
 

 
Via The Bowery Boys

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
NYC subway dancers are so beautiful & hypnotic, I forget my fear of being kicked in the head
11.03.2014
05:03 pm

Topics:
Dance
Sex

Tags:
dance
NYC
subway dancers
subway performers


 
I have an uneasy solidarity with the New York City subway dancers. On the one hand, I appreciate most forms of public entertainment, including (but not exclusive to) mariachi bands, accordionists, cellos, operatic sopranos, those Chinese violin thingies and the rare special occasion when some one drags a whole damn marimba down the subway stairs. On the other hand, the Z train goes approximately 4,000 mph, and the presence of a flailing body on a crowded, high-speed car puts me in an anxious frenzy. On the other hand, proto-fascist “broken windows” policing techniques have facilitated a major crackdown on these (mostly black teen male) performers. On the other hand... limbs flying near my skull.

To really enjoy the charisma and artistry of subway dancers, I have to watch something like this little film for boutique clothing line Fair Ends, featuring the moves of three amazing subway dancers in hypnotic slo-mo. Here there is no danger of traumatic brain injury, and I don’t have to experience the vicarious anxiety of some one perpetually bracing themselves to witness a farcically unjust arrest. 
 

 
Via ANIMAL

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Hey baby: Woman walks around NYC for 10 hours, is harassed 100 times, the supercut
10.28.2014
03:56 pm

Topics:
Feminism

Tags:
NYC
street harassment


 
I think a lot of women in New York (or any dense urban area, really) fantasize about walking around with a hidden camera. Sometimes the shit that men feel entitled to say to you is so baffling, you feel like you need an audio-visual record of it for people (well, other men, really) to believe it. There is no response that will assuredly get you out of this unwanted situation. Something as formal as a brief nod in their direction might inspire them to follow you up the street, but ignoring them can be just as bad, since a certain kind of guy is terrifyingly infuriated by being ignored—it’s a very short trip from “hey baby” to “fuck you, bitch!” and you’re never sure what kind of a dude you’re dealing with.

I see a lot of guys in the comment section of this video defending the men who are just rattling off the more seemingly-innocuous greetings, so let me relay to you my best/worst New York City cat-calling story.

One morning, when I was walking to work, I was about ten feet behind a guy on the sidewalk. Across the street was a woman struggling with two very full grocery bags in her arms, and a very tired-looking child. The guy was eyeing her, slowing down as she slowed down, waiting for an opportunity to say something to her, but she was obviously very busy. At one point, she looks back at her sleepy kid (who was maybe about four), says something and he nods. She then sets down her bags and purse. Her kid lifts up his shirt, and his mother pulls out a needle—this is all plainly visible.

The man then stops, and yells, “Hey baby! You got a man at home?!?” as she is administering insulin to her child on the street!

So for those of you protesting, “Oh that guy is just saying ‘hello!’—please keep in mind that it’s pretty difficult to enjoy a friendly greeting from a strange man after god-knows-how-much bullshit we may have already heard earlier that day. At the very least, save it for the bars—or better yet, join a dating service.

I assure you, you’ll make a better impression.
 

 

 

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Graffiti artists reclaim the commons and obscure subway ads
10.06.2014
08:58 am

Topics:
Activism
Advertising
Art

Tags:
graffiti
NYC
subways


 
For what New Yorkers pay to ride “public transportation,” you’d think the MTA wouldn’t feel compelled to sell every square inch of subway car to bloodsucking corporate pirates—much less that aesthetic villain, Dr. Jonathan Zizmor. M.D.. But where there is a square inch to monetize, “public” space will never really be public. Two anonymous artists, going by SKI and 2ESAE, have decided to take the commons with some slick guerrilla tactics.

Now defacing ads is nothing new, and their messaging might be a little platitudinous (“be who you are don’t be sheep”), but the project itself is a kind of a cool ad campaign against ads. While the duo’s traditional idiom is graffiti, the plastering of polished “ad copy” is a subtler, more formal approach to anti-advertising protest—you have to look twice, something straphangers almost never do for a scrawl of Sharpie or an artless tag in spray paint. While very few people probably saw the installation itself (I’ve been on the J train at 3AM—it’s pretty dead), the folks at ANIMAL videotaped it for posterity—YouTube is the last town square, I suppose.

I’d hope actions like this might take off, but the MTA has already announced plans to put cameras in cars... you know… for safety.
 

 
Via ANIMAL

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Shock Value: New York’s underground ‘Cinema of Transgression’
09.26.2014
10:47 am

Topics:
Art
Movies
Punk

Tags:
Lydia Lunch
NYC
Richard Kern
Nick Zedd

01010zedtrangressioncinema.jpg
 
There are times in life when it seems that certain things, events, people or books have been strategically placed for our benefit. For example, I read Nick Zedd’s Totem of the Depraved which ends with the filmmaker homeless, on the streets looking for a place to stay when I was homeless, wandering streets, sleeping rough, and getting by however I could. The book was apposite and Zedd’s words kept me company through some uncomfortable nights. And of course, there was the inspiration, the small luminous epiphany—if artists like Zedd could get by, stay sane, live and create, then so could I.

Self-styled “King of the Underground” Nick Zedd was the pioneer and major player of New York’s Cinema of Transgression in the late 1970s and 1980s with his films They Eat Scum, Geek Maggot Bingo and Police State. Knowing that “History is whoever gets to the typewriter first,” Zedd edited the Xeroxed and stapled together zine The Underground Film Bulletin and wrote (under various aliases) reviews for his own films. In 1985, he composed the Cinema of Transgression Manifesto:

We who have violated the laws, commands and duties of the avant-garde; i.e. to bore, tranquilize and obfuscate through a fluke process dictated by practical convenience stand guilty as charged.

We openly renounce and reject the entrenched academic snobbery which erected a monument to laziness known as structuralism and proceeded to lock out those filmmakers who possesed the vision to see through this charade.

Zedd (writing under the pseudonym Orion Jeriko) described his comrades as “underground invisibles” and named them:

Zedd, Kern, Turner, Klemann, DeLanda, Eros and Mare, and DirectArt Ltd, a new generation of filmmakers daring to rip out of the stifling straight jackets of film theory in a direct attack on every value system known to man.

And announced what they were going to do:

We violate the command and law that we bore audiences to death in rituals of circumlocution and propose to break all the taboos of our age by sinning as much as possible. There will be blood, shame, pain and ecstasy, the likes of which no one has yet imagined. None shall emerge unscathed.

Since there is no afterlife, the only hell is the hell of praying, obeying laws, and debasing yourself before authority figures, the only heaven is the heaven of sin, being rebellious, having fun, fucking, learning new things and breaking as many rules as you can. This act of courage is known as transgression.

We propose transformation through transgression - to convert, transfigure and transmute into a higher plane of existence in order to approach freedom in a world full of unknowing slaves.

 
killsidologbsdba.jpg
 
Filmmaker and photographer Richard Kern described the Cinema of Transgression as “a loose coalition of people who just joined together in order to have a movement.”

Along with Zedd, Kern was one of the was the group’s main players, making short brutal (some might say “depraved”) films like You Killed Me First (1985), Thrust in Me (1985), The Right Side of My Brain (1985) and Fingered (1986). These films teetered on the wire, and were so personally demanding (mentally and physically and in drink and drugs) that Kern eventually left New York City for a while for the sake of his health. 

Artist, writer, actress and performer, Lydia Lunch appeared in many of Kern’s movies and saw the Cinema of Transgression as a way to “show the ugly fucking truth the truth. Period.” Around her were artists like Joe Coleman, who began his career by biting the heads off mice, and became an alchemist—turning pain into gold.

While much of the Cinema of Transgression is now mainstream or like Kern’s photos suitable for the fashion shoot or cat walk, Nick Zedd continues to plow his own visionary path as artist and filmmaker. I, at least, now have a roof over my head.

Angélique Bosio’s documentary Llik Your Idols captures the excitement, thrill and power of the Cinema of Transgression, interviewing Nick Zedd, Richard Kern, Lydia Lunch, Joe Coleman, Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore and others.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Performance art? Drugs? Both?
09.24.2014
09:24 am

Topics:
Art
Drugs

Tags:
NYC


 
So the folks over at Bowery Boogie seem sure that these four anonymous citizens are partaking of hallucinogenic drugs, but I’m not totally convinced. In these trying times of flash mobs and Improv Everywhere, one cannot discount the possibility of a staged event. Or perhaps it’s just a misunderstanding?

One could argue that the stretching lady is just doing some early-Monday-morning calisthenics! And the lady staring at the pillar could simply be quietly reflecting. The person shaking the chains could be testing their structural integrity, and the guy humping the trash can…well… nevermind, they’re probably just all on drugs.
 

 
Via Bowery Boogie

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Moving 1960s short interviews the ‘Bowery Bums’ of old New York
08.28.2014
04:34 pm

Topics:
Class War
History

Tags:
1960s
NYC
homelessness


 
Despite former Mayor Giuliani’s highly successful war on the homeless, the destitute faces of “Old New York” remain some of our most recognizable mascots. One of the misconceptions about present-day NYC is that the streets are now “scrubbed” of the homeless, but nothing could be further from the truth. The post-Giuliani policing of the poor was however, an unmitigated success when it came to dispersing indigent bodies—in other words, busting up homeless communities. Simply put, it’s not illegal to die in the street, it’s just illegal to fraternize with your fellow undesirables.

The video below, shot in 1960 and 1961, doesn’t dig deep—it doesn’t have to. Men are quick and open about their lives. The tragically predictable culprits of addiction, prison, disability and the lack of work brought them to the Bowery, and they’re rightfully resentful of their grim sanctuary. Still, it’s an odd thing to be wistful for a time when the homeless were at least able to commiserate fraternally in New York City. Like the gentlemen say, “misery loves company.”
 

 
Via Bowery Boogie

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
‘Playground: Growing Up in the New York Underground’: The best book yet on the dawn of punk rock

dsrjfk
Early band shot of Blondie

In the now long line of endless punk rock history cash-in books being pumped out from every corner of the world it’s shocking to find the one book that’s not like the others. Paul Zone’s Playground: Growing Up in the New York Underground published by Glitterati Inc. is a coffee table book brimming with amazing, unseen photos and the life story of Paul and his brothers Miki Zone and Mandy Zone and their bands The Fast and later, Man 2 Man. What makes this book different is its author and the time frame it takes place in.

There was a short moment when everything was happening at once, no one knew or cared and the only band that had an audience or a record deal was the New York Dolls. As early as 1974 Patti Smith was playing, as was Television, Wayne County, Suicide and Blondie. The Ramones were starting to play at CBGB (opening for a drag show that starred Tomata du Plenty later of Screamers fame), KISS was pretty much in this same scene playing to about five people with many bands like The Planets And Paul’s brothers The Fast were playing alongside of them. At one point, sub-culturally speaking, all the cards were thrown up in the air and no one knew where they were going to land. It was a very small group of friends almost all of whom would, in a few short years, become icons of pop culture,
 
xkfjhga
Johnny Thunders, early 70’s

At the time, Paul Zone was very young. Too young to be in a band, but not too young to see a band or be snuck into the back room at Max’s Kansas City. And not too young to document this exciting time in his life by photographing everything. There are very few photos of this period when punk rock was actually occurring in the midst of the glitter rock scene. When the up and down escalators of rock ‘n’ roll infinity met and EVERYONE was hungry on the way up AND on the way down. There was change in the air, excitement and confusion.

Seeing Alan Vega of Suicide performing in a loft in 1973 with a huge blonde wig and a gold painted face is unbelievable. The years the photos in the book span are 1971 to 1978. Most are snapshots of friends hanging out when everyone was still on the starting line. The Fast were one of the more popular of these bands who let their new friends Blondie and The Ramones open for them in small New York clubs.

Early photos of The Fast show them amazingly in full glitter regalia with KISS-like make up (Miki Zone has a heart painted over one eye, etc.) but this was before KISS! There are a few photos of icons of the time like Alice Cooper (watching cartoons in his hotel room), Marc Bolan, The Stooges, etc. (a good one of KISS with about three people in the audience, as mentioned above). Most are of friends just hanging out, having a ball, not knowing or caring about the future and without that dividing line in music history called “punk rock.” It is truly a treasure to see something this rare, and even better, 99% of these photos have never been seen before.
 
mdjfdhvjsaakjd
Wayne County long before becoming Jayne County

By 1976 Paul Zone was old enough to join his brothers and became the lead singer of the version of The Fast that made records. Sadly due to poor management decisions The Fast got left behind that first punk wave and watched as almost all of their buddies become some of the most famous faces in music history. How amazing that all of these people were friends just hanging out, broke and creative going to see each other play, talking shit and influencing each other in ways they didn’t even realize?
 
xcjvhu
Joey Ramone eating dessert at Paul Zone’s parents house at 5 am

skdjhcmwomgr
Linda Ramone, future design icon Anna Sui, Nick Berlin and me, Howie Pyro (The Blessed) at Coney Island 1978

After a few years of struggling, The Fast trimmed down to just brothers Miki and Paul Zone and some early electronic equipment. They finally let go of the name The Fast and became Man to Man, one of the first Hi-NRG electro dance music groups, recording with the likes of Bobby Orlando and Man Parrish. They had huge hits worldwide and here in dance clubs like “Male Stripper” and “Energy Is Eurobeat,”
 
kfirghegr
Suicide’s Alan Vega, early 70’s

This book is three quarters a photo book and one quarter autobiography, cutting to the point and perfect for this modern, short attention span world. It is packed with so much amazing first hand information in such a short amount of text that no one will be disappointed. Playground was co-written by Jake Austen of Roctober Magazine, with a foreword by Debbie Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie. The book is available here
 
lsfkgj
 
If you are in the Los Angeles area this Saturday, June 28th, there will be a book release party and photo exhibit (with many of these photos printed HUGE) at Lethal Amounts Gallery at 8 pm.
 

Posted by Howie Pyro | Leave a comment
David Lynch’s scary public service announcement about NYC’s rat infestation
01.27.2014
10:34 am

Topics:
Environment

Tags:
David Lynch
NYC
rats


 
I’m not really afraid of rats. But while I personally tend to abide by a pretty “live and let live” code where vermin are concerned (as long as the creature in question keeps out of my apartment), New York City has an absolutely insane density of rats. It’s not as bad as in years past, but it’s a rare subway ride when I don’t see at least one varmint happily waddling over the tracks, and I cede to that. We’re in actual underground tunnels—rats are simply the wildlife with whom we must share that subterranean space.

Above ground however, they begin to become a health hazard, and while the city tends to favor the idiotic approach of lacing every garbage-filled and/or overgrown area with poison (poison that presents its own health hazards), the best way to deal with rats is to create an inhospitable environment. Mowing empty lots and removing debris would certainly fix a lot of the problem, but all of that is futile if you’re just going to throw your delicious edible garbage in the street. And that’s where David Lynch comes in.

In what is quite possibly the coolest anti-littering public service announcement ever, Lynch gives viewers a phantasmagoria of rat horror. Frederick Elmes (the cinematographer for both Wild at Heart and Night on Earth) was director of photography on this 1991 anti-rat opus, and it’s a pretty masterful little bit of messaging—the rats are mere beasts, but littering assholes, THEY are the true monsters!
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Dude literally sells boxes of rocks as a ‘piece of Brooklyn’
09.22.2013
06:26 pm

Topics:
Advertising
Amusing

Tags:
New York City
NYC
Brooklyn

box of rocks
 
There’s clearly some sort of secret propaganda campaign underway, intended to portray Brooklyn as nothing more than a tub of wealthy, cosmopolitan, white hipster kids with dumb taste. That has to be it, because some dude is selling little boxes of rocks (or gravel, really, let’s be honest), as “pieces of Brooklyn,” and I can’t imagine why some one would do such a thing without suspecting conspiracy and/or foul play. This is the tactic of a vacation beach town, where the locals sell bottles of sand as souvenirs, host wet t-shirt contests, and margaritas are poured into your mouth by girls named “Amber” (thanks, mom!).

Entrepreneur Floyd Hayes, however, thinks it’s is a bully idea for our little hamlet, as well! Selling each… box, for four dollars, Hayes manages to make you not totally hate him by giving a dollar of proceeds to the Brooklyn Arts Council. Years in non-profit actually taught me that people are more likely to donate small amounts of money if they get some swag in return, but come on, Floyd! This isn’t a serious philanthropic venture, and we both know it!

A man claiming to be Floyd has popped up in the comment section of Brokelyn, saying:

Thanks for the post. I think you have a fair angle. I’ve sold 20 of them now, to 11 customers. I’ve emailed them all to say thanks and had some good responses back. One guy bought 10 – told me it was a super cheap xmas gift for his family who are spread out all over the states. Another customer is based in Ohio, she used to live in Brooklyn and wanted something to put on her desk to remind her of good times. A Canadian and a Parisian also bought some, thinking it was “just funny.” I guess people have their reasons, I don’t think it’s a case of “a fool and their money.” As long as people get some sense of enjoyment from it then I’m happy really.

Floyd! I don’t wanna knock a good hustle, but you are killing me! I know you can’t send bed bugs or police brutality through the mail, but you could at least throw in some artisanal dirt! This is Brooklyn, dammit!
 
Via Brokelyn

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
NYC Mayor Bloomberg discovers root of chronic homelessness: cushy, inviting shelters
09.26.2012
09:51 pm

Topics:
Class War
Stupid or Evil?
U.S.A.!!!

Tags:
NYC
politicians

image
 
For the latest in totally out-of-touch bazillionaire rich people ragebait news, renowned altruist Mayor Michael Bloomberg is struggling to back-track after commenting last week that NYC homeless shelters had become a “much more pleasurable experience,” and therefor did not properly incentivize the homeless to make use of their frayed bootstraps.

Bloomberg notoriously gutted aid to homeless and housing programs last year, citing budgetary constraints. Now I’m no fancy-pants big-city economist, but Bloomberg is worth somewhere between $22 and 25 billion dollars (but really, who’s counting?), and there are over 44,000 homeless people on record in New York (about 18,600 of them are children); maybe he could just, I don’t know, use some of his own money for those programs? He wouldn’t even miss it. Or maybe we could all storm his penthouse and dangle him over the Gowanus Canal? Naw, let’s go ahead and keep setting records for the highest rate of child homelessness in NYC since The Great Depression.

In his defense, he did just ban the sale of sodas over 16 ounces so us dumb poors don’t high fructose corn syrup ourselves to death. So really, he’s got our best interests at heart, right?

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Page 1 of 2  1 2 >