With the CBGB movie premiering tonight and the CBGB Festival kicking off this week, nostalgia for the East Village and Lower East Side of yore is ripe as ever. You’ll forgive us for indulging along with everyone else: This Friday, join two consummate chroniclers of downtown music and nightlife at the B+B Newsroom as they read from their recent memoirs and tell it like it really was (no Savannah stage sets here).
Musician, filmmaker and hairdresser Rayya Elias knows a thing or two about CBs: after moving from Detroit in 1983, the native Syrian played there with Kory Clarke of Warrior Soul, in their band Ancient Beat. Harley Loco: A Memoir of Hard Living, Hair, and Post-Punk from the Middle East to the Lower East Side captures the time in a way that “few readers will soon forget”; Booklist calls it “a violent and humiliating tale of time in rehab and detox centers and prison stints as well as numerous love affairs with both men and women, followed by eviction after eviction until, homeless, she had no place to go.” Bust calls the redemption tale “a street-level snapshot of some of history’s most critical time periods.”
Brendan Jay Sullivan, meanwhile, arrived in New York long after the days of Tent City but he made up for lost time by immersing himself in Lower East Side nightlife – bartending, spinning under the name DJ Vh1, booking shows and eventually running with Lady Gaga as she “transformed from the girl everyone ignored – very short, very quiet voice – into kind of the center of attention.” Andy Rourke of The Smiths called his recent memoir, Rivington Was Ours: Lady Gaga, The Lower East Side and the Prime of our Lives, “a fascinating and vivid insight into the cauldron that formed a great musician.”
Friday at 7 p.m., both authors will read from their books and remember the Lower East Side in its days of grit and glam. Join us at the Newsroom, at 155 Grand Street, off of Bedford Avenue, in Williamsburg. As usual, the event is free — just let us know you’re coming.