The Barnes & Noble at Union Square was packed to the gills last night, with a line already forming on 17th Street long before Patti Smith was due to appear.
Riding the escalator up, we saw kids crowding every floor, sitting amongst the stacks in the hopes of hearing Smith read, even if they couldn’t buy a copy of her new book to get a wristband and get into the seating area and be guaranteed a signature in Smith’s new book, M Train.
Most downtown Doc Marten stompers probably connote the name Richard Hell with his former bands—Television, the Heartbreakers, Richard Hell and the Voidoids—but for the last 30 years he’s mostly been writing. Hell essentially retired from music after 1984’s compilation album R.I.P., with the exception of 1992’s Dim Stars experiment with Thurston Moore et al., and he told us, “People have lots of reasons for going back on the road. It’s not tempted me for a long time.” Instead, he’s produced a stack of books, including the well-received autobiography, I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp, and the collection of poetry, prose, and essays (and lovingly-produced penis drawings) Hot and Cold. Hell’s latest is a collection of his nonfiction writings, Massive Pissed Love: Nonfiction 2001-2014. We caught up with Hell (see bottom for info about upcoming local appearances) to talk about the new book, analog versus ebooks, and people stealing his haircut.
Brooklyn-based publishing house Akashic Books has done their not-for-children viral children’s book Go the F*ck to Sleep one better: a specifically-for-children book that parents might want to read a hundred times over: What is Punk?. Written by Trampoline House founder Eric Morse in classically Suessical iambic, the book is lusciously illustrated with photographs of Play-Doh recreations of all mommy’s and daddy’s favorite punk heroes: the Ramones, Iggy and the Stooges—and Debbie Harry, David Byrne, David Johansen, Tom Verlaine, and Lou Reed all standing in front of CBGBs.
Calamity Chang, once a fixture at the old Galapagos with the Beatles Burlesque show she produced, rarely performs in Brooklyn these days. But she makes an exception for the New York Burlesque Festival, which will inundate the city with glitter this weekend for the 13th year in a row. “As for Brooklyn,” she told us, “well, let’s just say that burlesque died when the hipsters moved into Williamsburg. They are too sexually repressed to appreciate sexuality and too cool to appreciate camp.”
While New Yorkers can be blind to events in other cities, there are many reasons to sympathize with San Franciscans in Joshua Mohr’s new novel All This Life. Specifically, gentrification (the Mission is finally going the way of Williamsburg, in case you didn’t notice), addiction to tech, and a yearning for societal interaction that social media merely imitates.
All images by Chris Stein from the book “Negative: Me, Blondie and The Advent of Punk,” and the exhibition of the same name at Somerset House in London, November 5 to January 25.
Few people personify the downtown New York aesthetic like Chris Stein. As the guitarist of Blondie, he’s helped to define—and defy—what people talk about when they talk about New York. Fortunately for us, he was documenting his adventures in the dangerous old New York, as proven in his book of photographs. These were shown at the Chelsea Hotel in September, and a new show opened yesterday on the other side of the pond at the Somerset House in London. More →
The performance artist Penny Arcade called us back after getting out of a show that ran late. So, even in the midst of her own show Longing Lasts Longer (Nov. 2, 3, 9, 10 at Joe’s Pub), she’s making time to support the work of other artists. The legendary downtown icon is, wonderfully, still underground and still outraged. The new show and her preoccupations are deeply intertwined, as her work is primarily autobiographical, and our conversation ranged from why New York is now “the Big Cupcake,” to what makes Lena Dunham so special, to the young “creative soul” in the Times paying $3,700 rent. More →
Papercut Press’ Fall showcase at Radio Bushwick last week was surprisingly well attended considering it was on Rosh Hoshanah. A host of folks came out to see bands as well as readers, including Jason Napoli Brooks (also an indie publisher) and Dolan Morgan from the Atlas Review. Indie publishers keep gathering in North Brooklyn, which, along with the varying Short Storyclubs, is adding to a rising literary scene that isn’t waiting for McNally Jackson to arrive. More →