1980s nightclub invitations from ‘Downtown’ New York

Keith Haring, invitation for “Larry Levan’s Birthday Bash,” 1986

It’s… interesting—and a reminder of how fucking old I’m getting—that I’m starting to see promotional ephemera from nightclub events I attended (or worked at) in my… younger days turning up in museums and art galleries. Good thing for me that I have boxes of these types of invitations that I’ve kept sitting out in the garage. Twenty years from now, I’ll spend my dotage as an eBay seller specializing in… shit I’ve kept.

What’s slightly worrisome, though, is how little of some of these events I call recall in any detail. I’ve heard older friends of mine say things like “Well, it was the sixties!” (or the seventies) but even so, the 80s were a seriously decadent (and dangerous) time to be young and living in New York City. I have always lucked out and been at the right place at the right time, I like to think.

Without putting too fine a point on it, drugs were better then—especially cocaine, which, sorry is just a joke now, kids—and super easy to get your hands on. People were more extreme then. As someone who (luckily) lived through it all, it’s very easy for me to see why so many of today’s young people romanticize the East Village or “Downtown” scene—which will never, ever, happen again (at least not there)—It’s because it was better then. It just was. All the elements, including cheap rent, came together then. A perfect storm, culturally speaking.

It didn’t last that long—Manhattan nightlife is all rich kids and bankers these days—but if you were there you know what I mean. And if you were there, perhaps like me, you’re starting to find that a lot of it’s pretty damned foggy by now, so it’s good to have exhibits like this one, online at Marc Miller’s Gallery 98, which specializes in this sort of artifact, to jar our memories.

This mix of ambitious high art with popular entertainment and performance emerged first when two clubs, CBGB and Max’s Kansas City, helped launch Punk in all its many and varied creative directions in the late 1970s. By the 1980s dozens of new nightclubs and bars including Area, Club 57, Danceteria, Limelight, Mudd Club, Palladium, Paradise Garage, Pyramid and the Tunnel consciously strove to be part of the art world by presenting new music, art, film, video, fashion, and performance.  It was a period in art not unlike that of Paris in the 1890s when the cafés of Montmartre helped mold the fin-de-siècle aesthetic. Gallery 98 presents here a selection of nightclub invitations and posters from this exhilarating moment in the 1970s and 80s. For artists and performers it was a golden age with clubs needing to book events seven-days-a-week.  To attract the trendy crowd, artists were recruited to paint murals and design publicity; curators were hired to organize exhibitions; photographers were booked to present slide shows and document events; filmmakers and video artists were paid for screenings; and performers were engaged to make music, stage cabaret shows and host interactive events involving audience participation.  Out of this milieu, stars were born: performers Ann Magnuson, John Sex, Joey Arias, Phoebe Legere; artists Colette, Nan Goldin, Keith Haring, Mark Kostabi; curators Baird Jones, Neke Carson, Carlo McCormick, Michael Alig.  And in the wake of all this activity came the thousands of cheaply produced but creatively designed cards and posters that the artists and clubs created to publicize events in this pre-Internet era. Presented here is a small sampling of nightclub ephemera available through Gallery 98.  All items are for sale.


Take for instance this invitation for a 1989 party for British filmmaker Derek Jarman at Mars, a four story club on 12th Ave. I worked as the doorman at the fourth floor VIP room (Vin Diesel worked the front door) and I recall working at this party, and indeed still have the invite below in my possession. The thing is, I have no memory whatsoever of seeing or meeting Derek Jarman there, which is weird, because you’d think I would. Perhaps it was because I was outside of the party and not in it, but I don’t know because the invite aside, I’m drawing a complete blank! [I should probably take this opportunity to mention that I was perhaps the very worst—or best, depending on how you look at it—VIP room doorman in all of NYC nightlife history. How do I know this? Because I let every single person who walked up to the rope inside. Every one of them. The sole exception was when some idiot timidly asked me “You don’t want me in there, do you?” and I just silently shook my head “no” and he turned around and fucked off. Had he just kept his mouth shut, the rope would have parted for him.]

“Family! The New Tribal Love Rock Musical” with Joey Arias and Ann Magnuson at Danceteria, 30 West 21st Street, New York

A Seconds magazine party for the NY Debut of “Serial Killers” by Richard Kern at Madam Rosa’s, 24 John’s Lane, New York, 1987

Kembra Pfahler at Pompeii, 104 East 10th St., NYC, 1985

Joey Arias and Ann Magnuson “Request the Pleasure of Your Company at a Mad Tea Party,” which they hosted in character as Dali and Gala, Danceteria, 1985

The opening night invite for AREA’s “American Highway” theme, 157 Hudson Street, New York, 1986. The club changed its highly elaborate decor every six weeks or so, so scoring these opening night invites was a matter of some importance. Plus, if you were on their mailing list, you tended to “mysteriously” get onto the mailing lists for other clubs.

Girl Bar, a popular lesbian night out, one of very few at the time, happened at Boy Bar on St. Mark’s Place once a week.

There’s a picture of me, age 23 perhaps, with really long hair in one of the issues of Project X

James White’s Sardonic Sincopators, at Save the Robots, 1986. Save the Robots was a super sleazy afterhours club. If you were there, chances are you were fucked up, not likely to be sleeping anytime soon and probably up to no damned good.

Finally, both sides of a business card for former Yippie leader Jerry Rubin’s afterwork networking parties. He threw these parties at different clubs, including the Limelight, where I was working in 1985, and they were the fucking worst parties ever, with the worst crowd and the worst tippers and these parties simply sucked. Rubin’s networking parties, I do have vivid memories of, none of them good.

Via Stupefaction

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘101 things to love about New York City’ list from 1976 is mostly incomprehensible
08:45 am


New York City

New York City
Garbage piles up between buildings during the 1976 strike of Local 32B-32J members in New York City.
1976 was a real interesting moment for the New York Times to commission a disposable little one-pager on “101 Things to Love About New York City,” but commission it they did. In the mid-1970s New York famously almost declared bankrupt, leading to the immortal Daily News headline of October 30, 1975: “FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD,” and aside from that, New York’s image (not without reason) was of a violent, cramped, dirty hellhole. It was also something of a creative mecca for artists, musicians, comedians, and what have you—artists could afford cheap lofts in Soho, and the tensions of the city were or would soon be reflected in a remarkably wide-ranging and multicultural brew of rap, punk, avant-garde art, salsa, disco, graffiti, and who knows what else.

The Times piece, by Glenn Collins, appeared in the June 16, 1976, edition. Today such items are commonplace, but one imagines they weren’t so common before the advent of consumer-friendly “alternative” newspapers and the like. The article is amusing for several reasons: the highly mordant tone of the article, the difficulty of thinking up 101 actual reasons to like living in NYC (although such padding is almost a requirement of the genre), the lack of overlap with the reasons some of us would have liked to live in New York, and the utter incomprehensibility of a good portion of the list. The world’s gone from analog to digital, moneyed interests have taken over Manhattan and much of Brooklyn, and well, some things just change.
New York City
Here they are in a more readable format:
New York City
Now, first things first. I was a resident of Staten Island for several years until quite recently, and I’m having difficulty imagining a New York City where the Staten Island Advance, SI’s hardy daily newspaper, is the #6 thing that occurs to a person writing about why to love New York. Thanks to the good works of the ScoutingNY blog, which discovered the list in the first place, and its readers, we know that 873-0404 was the “Dial-A-Satellite hotline, providing you with daily information about passing satellites.”

Anyone know what #45, “Degree days,” signifies? I must confess, I enjoy #46, “More movies, plays and ballet than anywhere else, and not going,” there is nothing more New York than that. Do people remember #12, which referenced strange PSAs the local news would run, or something. I don’t know if they were a local thing or a ‘70s thing in general. I do remember them quite well. The entry at #22, “New York’s proximity to Montauk,” is kind of interesting because the whole Long Island experience has been utterly transformed in the last decade or two; I don’t think anyone actually finds it charming anymore.
New York City
Over on this half of the list, I really enjoy the concept of #85, “the rabbit hanging out near the World of Birds at the Bronx Zoo.” The diaspora reflected in #69, “East Siders on the West Side,” will puzzle anyone who isn’t aware that the Upper West Side was something of a wasteland as far as posh people were concerned, before the creation of the Lincoln Center arts complex in the mid-1960s. “A winning OTB ticket,” at #60, is a little hilarious, considering I’ve never set foot in an Off-Track Betting outlet and would never desire to.

Overall, this is a cranky, creaky, weary list. At least twenty or thirty of the items signify what an awful place New York is, and a handful directly reference the fiscal problems New York was going through.

But most of all, there’s pretty much no mention of the things the average reader of DM would be likely to think of, which probably isn’t very surprising: great music, great art, great food, accessible drugs, an AIDS-free social-sexual environment (can’t fault the NYT for missing that one), cheap downtown rents, the assertion of Latino and African-American and queer identity, public eccentricity everywhere, and on and on.

Not quite contemporaneous but close enough, here’s the annoying 1982 “I Love New York” promotional ad campaign:

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
What no pastrami?!: Egg cream scented candles from Katz’s deli
05:02 am


New York City

For the many years that I patronized Katz’s deli on Manhattan’s Lower East Side I don’t recall the smell of egg cream being the first thing I was hit with when I walked through the venerable joint’s doors. It was the pungent scent of vinegar, rye, mustard and smoke that permeated the air like a Romanian storm front.

I guess a pastrami-scented candle won’t appeal to the masses so Katz’s is offering something tame for the Goyim out there. You can buy the candle here. Personally, I’ll wait for one that smells of brine and garlic.
Via Ev Grieve

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
The 2014 NYC taxi drivers beefcake calendar is so unsexy that it’s actually kind of sexy!
11:17 am


New York City

cab driver
The 2014 NYC Taxi Drivers Beefcake Calendar is one of the better tongue-in-cheek takes on pin-up I’ve seen. First of all, the dudes all look like they’re having a great time, and who doesn’t find a sense of humor hot? Second, 100% of the proceeds go to University Settlement, a non-profit that serves immigrants and low-income families. About 90% of New York cab drivers are immigrants, so this is activism for the community, from the community. And who doesn’t love a man who takes care of his own?

The calendar actually just sold out, so anybody hoping to ogle it in their very own home is out of luck for now.  Ditto, I’d wager, for the men themselves, all of whom I’m sure are off the market. I mean, this is New York, and a boyfriend with a car has the same social capital it did in high school.
cab driver
cab driver
cab driver
cab driver
cab driver

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Preschool’s field trip exposes youngsters to NYC’s epic wackiness
12:33 pm


New York City
Street performer

For the unfortunate guardians of these children, there must’ve been a tense, slack-jawed “What the hell are we gonna do we do now?” moment resulting from the sight of this zany, barely-clad New York City street performer. Then the reality of “Nothing to see here, kiddies. Let’s move along” probably sank in pretty quickly.

When I was a kid, I was amongst the group of school children who were taken to the controversial Robert Mapplethorpe exhibit in Cincinnati, but that was… art.

via reddit

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Dude literally sells boxes of rocks as a ‘piece of Brooklyn’
03:26 pm


New York City

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
Bill de Blasio will be the next mayor of NYC because he’s the only candidate endorsed by drag queens

Lady Bunny
Okay, that’s not the only reason Bill de Blasio will be the next mayor of American’s greatest city. He advocates for paid sick leave, he’s spoken out against the racist “stop and frisk” NYPD tactic, and he’s been incredibly frank about raising taxes for the rich, all while wishy-washier Democrats faltered (or embarrassed the hell out of themselves). In fact, current NYC Mayor (and resident rich billionaire asshole) Bloomberg has referred to his campaign as “class warfare and racist,” so you know he’s gotta be doing something right!

But let’s talk about what (and who) has to be the first drag queen in a campaign commercial for a major political race! It’s Wigstock founder and and all arounf drag legend, Lady Bunny, who’s never shied away from politics (her Sarah Palin-themed parody of Harper Valley PTA is brilliant). While de Blasio’s biggest competition, Christine Quinn, is the first openly gay Speaker of the New York City Council, her race and class politics are absolute shit, and don’t fool savvy radical queer folk like Lady Bunny! What’s more, Bunny is featured in the ad as a dignified, concerned citizen, and not some socially liberal window-dressing to indicate how socially progressive the candidate is.

Fun fact: While jabbering moron and New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd has mistakenly portrayed de Blasio’s wife Chirlane McCray as somewhat homophobic, McCray self-identified as lesbian until meeting de Blasio. (She was even a member of the black feminist lesbian organization, the Combahee River Collective. So there, Maureen Dowd!)

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
NYC libraries are under attack and all we can do is ‘Put a Bird on it’???
08:32 am

Class War

New York City

little free library
Wilenta and her carpenter, Tom
The “Little Free Library” movement is adorable.  I mean like, painstakingly adorable. Folks can make or buy (for around $600!) a twee little birdhouse for books, set it up anywhere with foot traffic, and run a little book-borrow entirely on the “take a book, leave a book” honor system. Even I’m not so jaded as to criticize that—it’s sweet, neighborly, and totally unobjectionable.

Recently, Brokelyn wrote a post about Jennifer Wilenta, a yoga-teaching, organic-gardening, blogging Brooklyn mom, who installed one such library in front of her picturesque house in Ditmas Park.

Of course, I found something to be annoyed about.

Before you remind me that I’m a hateful little toad, let me just say that I take great pride, pleasure, and personal satisfaction in being a hateful little toad. I’m sure Wilenta is an amazing human being. She looks like a magical urban yoga fairy, and she literally lends books to her community with absolutely no strings attached. But, while these precious little literary penny jars are heart-warming (for those New Yorkers who still have hearts left to warm… sellouts), we’re facing a desperately under-reported attack on our actual libraries, which are already free, and able to use $600 way more efficiently than any one person.

Our billionaire mayor, Michael Bloomberg is proposing a 35% cut in funding to libraries across all five boroughs, which would close over 60 branches, add to growing unemployment, and demolish hours and services. Aside from books and classes, NYC libraries have immeasurably important resources for computer literacy and Internet use for those without home access. NYC libraries are already ranked below freakin’ Detroit in open hours, and reducing hours would gut their utility even further. For the little people.

So by all means, let’s coo over the beautiful Brooklyn mom and her beautiful kids and her beautiful home and garden her beautiful little library, but when sweet, novel little facsimiles of common goods pop up, maybe we could take a moment to remind ourselves that individual gestures can’t replace collective resources.

We can’t just put a bird on austerity.

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
The ‘Crack Is Wack Playground’ is a real thing
03:32 am


New York City
Keith Haring

Crack is Wack mural
In 1986, Keith Haring got a $25 ticket for painting graffiti on a handball court in East Harlem. Perhaps sensing the crack epidemic of the 1980s reaching a fever pitch, the Parks Department contacted him months later with a request to finish the mural. The two murals on either side of the wall not only still stand, the Parks Department has officially named the park the “Crack is Wack Playground,” acknowledging it among the most salient dedications of public art in the city. 

Haring, one of the quintessential New York City artists, died in 1990 of AIDS related complications, and in a poignant way, signaled the passing of a cultural moment.
Crack is Wack Mural 2
park sign
Official New York City Parks Department signage

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Brooklyn subway headbanger is everything I love and hate about New York
08:16 am


New York City

Brooklyn headbanger
Like the elusive Sasquatch, the Brooklyn Headbanger rarely makes appearances when quality video equipment is present
As a Brooklynite, I love him for being a part of the human pageantry that brought me to New York in the first place. I salute his passion, and I defend his public displays of frolic with all my heart and soul. Also as a Brooklynite, if he was ever on my train on a day where I was hungover or even slightly cranky, I would bury my head in my book and hate him… so… fucking… hard.

This is the paradox of New York—the communal nature of our shared space throwing us into an ambivalent love affair with humanity, along with all its potentially irritating, but sometimes jubilantly invigorating weirdness. Keep doing what you’re doing dude; I can’t promise I won’t hate you for it, but I can’t promise I won’t love you for it either.

via Gothamist

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Ghetto Brothers: Amazing Beatles-influenced Nuyorican street gang and garage rock group, 1972
07:56 pm


New York City
Ghetto Brothers

Benjy Melendez, 1972

“If the Ghetto Brothers’ dream comes true, the world will learn that the ‘little people’ wish to be acknowledged, wish to be properly educated in order for them to pass on their knowledge to their children, and proudly inform them about their heritage and culture, and be a functioning part of the dream of America. If the Ghetto Brothers’ dream comes true, the ‘little people’ will be ‘little people’ no more, and make their own mark in this world. Listen to the Ghetto Brothers… and take heed.”—from the back cover of the original 1972 release of Power-Fuerza

I’m not one to go in much for year end lists (I like reading other people’s, but not compiling my own, besides it’s the new year already, isn’t it?) but if I was, then the Ghetto Brothers jaw-droppingly amazing Power-Fuerza deluxe re-release from Truth & Soul would have been hovering very near the top of mine. You know how every once in a while something or someone long-forgotten (or that never was) gets rediscovered and it’s just so fucking good that music fans take it to their bosoms and become all-out evangelists for said album or performer? (Death, The Langley Schools Music Project, Zambian psychrockers WITCH, Jobriath, Father’s Children and Shuggie Otis come immediately to mind.) Well, this is one of those albums, and one of those bands and the back-story of brothers Benjy, Robert and Victor Melendez, doesn’t disappoint either. 

Power-Fuerza was recorded on a single sunny day in New York City in 1972 by a Beatles-influenced garage rock group comprised of a bunch of well-intended, socially conscious teenage Nuyorican gang members led by three brothers who wanted to broker peace between South Bronx street gangs and have a good time.

Do I have your attention? This isn’t just a truly great “lost” record, it’s uncovering an entirely hidden history—and a very important history at that—of New York City in the early 1970s.

The music on Power-Fuerza reminds me of a lot of things, including, but not limited to, a less-technically proficient early Santana (I mean that in a good way), doo-wop, Motown and even the first Strokes album for its confident, youthful, boyish bravado. I can’t really say that it doesn’t sound like anything else I’ve ever heard before, because it definitely sounds like a whole bunch of stuff I’ve heard before put into a blender, but don’t get me wrong, the exuberantly sweet-sounding inner city blues of the Ghetto Brothers is still unique as fuck when judged on its own merits.

There is an emotional purity to this album that cannot be described in words. It is unabashedly joyous and stunningly beautiful. Its low-fi imperfections are what make it so perfectly perfect. Power-Fuerza hit my pleasure centers damned good and hard on the first spin. I came close to crying tears of joy, it’s that good. The second and third times I played it, I loved it even more. And then I played it again, and again, and again (it’s a super short album and that’s the only downside of Power Fuerza, you’ll be left wanting to hear more and there is no more).

Think I’m over-reaching? Check out the title of The Atlantic’s review: One of the Greatest ‘Lost’ Albums of All Time Has Been Found.

Hip-hop historian Jeff Mao writes in the CD’s extensive liner notes:

“By mid-1971, Benjy’s social conscience and interest in Puerto Rican nationalism dovetailed with the rise of young urban activist groups like the Black Panthers, the Young Lords, and the Puerto Rican Socialist Party. Catching the revolutionary spirit in the air, the Ghetto Brothers eradicated junkies and pushers from their neighborhood, cleaned parks and garbage-strewn empty lots, and participated in clothing drives and breakfast programs.”


The Ghetto Brothers story is one perfect for NPR, if not for Hollywood. From the press release:

As the Ghetto Brothers gathered daily in their clubhouse on East 162nd Street in the early ‘70s, they brought another aspect to their legacy: musicianship. Influenced as much by the Beatles – Benjy, Robert and Victor were in a neighborhood tribute group in the mid-‘60s called Los Junior Beatles – and doo-wop harmonies as by Santana and Tito Puente, they quickly cooked up a potent, NYC-flavored musical stew. It was a melting pot of styles gobbled up by a growing fanbase, who heard them on the street or, on occasion, traveled across gang lines to check the scene.

After jamming and building up enough tunes, the GBs garnered the attention of local record store and record label owner Ismael Maisonave (Mary Lou Records / Salsa Records). After agreeing to his invitation to put their music on tape, the group rehearsed furiously and gathered material. In the summer of 1972, they were ready.

The album’s eight tracks were recorded in one day at Manhattan’s Fine Tone Studios on 42nd Street, produced and engineered by Latin studio maven Bobby Marin. Seven of the eight are originals written by Benjy and/or Victor Melendez. Arrangements were written on the spot. The result: a beautiful, absolutely innocent audio snapshot by three brothers, their friends and a powerful gang of musical energy.

Power-Fuerza was a minor hit around New York, but that was about it. Until this new reissue from Truth & Soul (cased like a hardback book with 80 pages of fascinating liner notes and photographs), the 1972 LP was changing hands in collector’s circles for a thousand bucks. Not even all of the band members owned a copy. Forty years after its initial release, people (like me) are just going nuts for this album. It must be incredibly gratifying for everyone involved in creating and then bringing this hidden gem to the public some forty years after the fact and seeing it embraced the way it has been. Seriously, kudos to Truth & Soul for putting together a fantastic product that, frankly, is practically piracy proof. People are gonna want to buy it because the liner notes are SO ESSENTIAL. When you hear the music, you will want to know the story behind it.

The original group split up, but the Ghetto Brothers are still very much together as a musical family affair: Benjy and Robert Melendez and their sons Joshua and Hiram, playing bass and drums respectively, meet at their studio every Friday to play music (Their brother Victor Melendez died in 1995).

“There’s Something in My Heart”

“Got This Happy Feeling”

WNYC’s Soundcheck awesome show on the Ghetto Brothers with Benjy Melendez and author Jeff “Chairman” Mao:

“8 Million Stories: Yellow Benjy” by Andreas Vingaard

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Inner-Tube: Legendary cable TV goldmine of Punk, Post-punk, No Wave and New Wave
12:31 pm


New York City
cable access

Since I was only ever able to catch a few of them on TV (I moved to NYC the year it went off the air), I was always on the look-out for bootlegs of a cable access program called Paul Tschinkel’s Inner-Tube, perhaps THE greatest (I can’t imagine what would compare to it) underground video archive of late 70, early 80s punk, post-punk, No Wave and New Wave music that exists.

The Gun Club, Bad Brains, Dead Kennedys, The Cramps, Blondie, Talking Heads, James Chance and the Contortions, Johnny Thunders, Television, Richard Hell and the Voidoids, The Dead Boys, The Ramones, Siouxsie and the Banshees… the list of bands seen on Inner-Tube goes on and on and on. Shows often shot in color, with two cameras and sound board audio. Performances taped at CBGB, Mudd Club, Danceteria, Max’s Kansas City, Irving Plaza and usually the camera was right up front.

Inner-Tube ran for ten years on Manhattan Cable (meaning that you could only watch it if you lived in Manhattan, the outer boroughs didn’t get it, TV Party, Midnight Blue or Robin Byrd, either). Seriously, it was the best of the best. Unbelievable shit.

I’ve been waiting in vain for years, hoping for a proper DVD release of the “best of” Inner-Tube, but the rights issues would probably make that a nightmare. Now it looks like Tschinkel is starting to put some on YouTube. This should be encouraged!

“This ‘Paul Tschinkel’s Inner-Tube’ program appeared on his Manhattan Cable TV show in 1980. It features live performances at Max’s Kansas City and CBGBs in New York that epitomize the dynamic, exciting music of the time. We see a riveting performance by the Dead Boys and a fast paced one by Levi and the Rockats that also includes a guest appearance by rocker Jayne County. A short piece of old time fiddling music, taped a fiddling convention in Independence VA in 1973, rounds out the program.”

This has only been on YouTube since last night. Here’s hoping for more Inner-Tube!

Via Stupefaction

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Mayor Bloomberg attempts photo-op; is shouted down

Bloomberg doing his best approximation of a Christian rock album cover, and half as sincere
New Yorkers are pissed off with local response to Sandy. Trains in poorer neighborhoods have been lower priority for restoration. Bloomberg defended going through with the New York Marathon while they were still fishing bodies off of Staten Island. When public sentiment finally forced his hand, he was demonstrably begrudging, perceiving the cancellation as a huge concession on his part.

Afterwards, it took forever to bring the (highly portable) marathon resources from the race points to those in need. There’s a gas shortage further immobilizing the city. People are still waiting in long lines for shelter and food, and necessities, and many areas are still woefully under-serviced. And now there’s been a nasty cold snap.

It only makes sense that Bloomberg make an appearance for a photo-op. Fortunately, the awesomely bitter New York spirit takes no truck with his unctuous performance. Notice how he just walks away from his constituency and instead drops a sound bite on the cameras.

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
We’re all Animals: A Peek into ‘Who Killed Teddy Bear?’

Who Killed Teddy Bear? Poster
So rarely have I ever been quite beautifully claw hammered by a movie than I was by the 1965 film, Who Killed Teddy Bear? It’s one of those films that can leave you slack jawed over what you have just seen and all the while it just seeps further and further into your consciousness. It’s been days since I last watched it and I still cannot stop thinking about it.

The basic plot revolves around a young, beautiful DJ and aspiring actress, Norah (Juliet Prowse), who soon becomes the focal point of a stalker. He starts off as a creaky voiced, hot and heavy breathing obscene phone caller, making comments like “I know what you look like right now” and “I can make you feel like a real woman.” She’s annoyed at first but gets progressively more rattled as the number of calls grow and violence starts to blossom around her.

Where things get really interesting is that instead of building up the identity of Norah’s mystery obsessive to the very end, we find out who he is midway through the film. The lithe but muscular figure, often shiny with sweat and clad in white briefs, turns out to be the boyishly handsome busboy, Lawrence (Sal Mineo), who works with her at the discotheque. The jolt of seeing former teen idol and Rebel Without a Cause star Mineo as the sexually damaged obscene phone caller with homicidal tendencies is as strong now as it must have been back when it was originally released.

But Mineo’s performance is much more than just a teen dream novelty. He brings some serious depth and layers to Lawrence, creating a character who is alternately sad and frightening, mostly due to his childhood rooted dysfunction. Whether he is taking his mentally challenged sister to the zoo or working out with an intensity that precedes either the hottest sex act or the worst murder, Mineo is a powerhouse here. His Lawrence is right up there with Anthony Perkins in Psycho and John Amplas’s titular role in George Romero’s Martin.

The film itself is a powder keg of beautifully moody B&W cinematography and the grimy underbelly of the human condition. The opening credit sequence alone sets the tone, featuring a blurry undulation of bodies as a little girl watches, clutching her cherished teddy bear. She turns away, only to fall down the stairs, with her face now suddenly blank, as if she is dead or brain damaged. Without a breath of relief, the actual film starts in a cramped, shadowy bedroom, complete with a nightstand littered with lurid publications, featuring titles like French Frills and When She Was Bad. A mirror reflects the image of a man caressing his bare chest while looking at photos of Norah, right before calling her up.

The elements of sleaze continue as Norah encounters police Lieutenant Dave Madden (Jan Murray), a single dad whose fascination with all manners of sexual deviancy infects his home life. (At one point, one of his coworkers mentions how Dave’s young daughter talks like a “vice squad officer.”) Even Norah’s boss, the glamorous ball buster Marian (Elaine Stritch), comes across like an uneasy mixture of maternal and less than pure motive. We even get some now-historic footage of a seamier New York City, with the highlight being Lawrence’s jaunt to an adult bookstore. Seeing shelves lined with girlie mags and books ranging from Fanny Hill, William S. Burroughs Naked Lunch, Hubert Selby Jr.‘s Last Exit to Brooklyn to more purple prose titles like Dance Hall Dyke and My Naughty, Naughty Life is a much beloved peek into the pre-gentrification and Disneyfication of Times Square. 

Who Killed Teddy Bear? is a brave film that gives you no easy answers. Sadly, it didn’t really do a thing for anyone that was involved, career-wise. Mineo did continue to do film, TV and theater work, including staging a controversial version of the prison drama Fortune and Men’s Eyes that featured a young Don Johnson. All of that was cut short in 1976, when he was murdered by a drifter. Elaine Stritch continues to be a monolithic character actress on Broadway, film and TV. Juliet Prowse, Jan Murray and Daniel J. Travanti, who has the small role of Carlo, Marian’s deaf bouncer, all went on to have healthy careers in television. The same could be said for director Joseph Cates, though perhaps that is the biggest shame given that he never was given the chance again to direct anything as nuanced and challenging as Who Killed Teddy Bear?. In an ideal world, this film should have forged a different career direction for Cates and certainly for Mineo, whose wounded eyes and brutal actions are hard to forget.

Who Killed Teddy Bear?
is ripe for proper rediscovery. It’s a mystery why this great film is still not available legally on DVD here in the US. (It did get a release in the UK, though that appears to already be out-of-print.) It is viewable on YouTube, for anyone who does not have access to the UK, PAL formatted disc. Hopefully, it will someday get the proper release that it so justly deserves.


Posted by Heather Drain | Leave a comment
Grody New York City pay phone
10:51 am


New York City
Pay Phones
Lunch meat

New York Shitty spotted this well, shitty pay phone on Wythe Avenue in Brooklyn.

What the heck is that moulded around the phone? Salami?

Who would put this anywhere near their face? Yuck!


Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
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