On Wednesday night the Living Gallery in Bushwick was abuzz with punk kids and curious passersby who had stepped inside to soak up the atmosphere of Collective Delusion / Mass Hysteria, a new all-female art exhibition. “Pretty much everyone is involved in the punk or noise scene in some way,” Jennifer Calandra, who curated the event, explained of the participating artists. “They’re mostly ladies I know from the scene here and from going to shows in different states.” The exhibition arrived just in time for the annual punk fest, New York’s Alright, which kicked off last night with shows at the Acheron and Tender Trap and continues throughout the weekend.
Someone had to immortalize the Trash Bar before its impending move to Bushwick and the ABC crime show Forever has gone and done it in the most ridiculous possible way. The episode ingeniously named “Punk Is Dead” opens with the above clip, wherein a NYPD detective hanging at Trash Bar with a smooth hotelier (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) tells him, “You know this place was actually open before CBGB.” (Leave it to a show about an immortal medical examiner who’s been alive since 1779 to get its chronology wrong.) Turns out, Cuba plans to tear the club down and put up one of his hotels. “But this is a New York landmark,” the cop whines.
Pat Ivers and Emily Armstrong continue sorting through their archives of punk-era concert footage as it’s digitized for the Downtown Collection at N.Y.U.’s Fales Library.
At CBGB, it was a crapshoot what you would hear on a given night (maybe folk rock, maybe noise bands) and we, the audience, said bring it on. If the music was good, we listened to it. But over in England, there was a culture war raging that was alien to most variety-loving New Yorkers.
Teds were the original “rebel teenagers” of the late 40s and early 50s, with their own unique clothing style and love of early rock and roll. They endured as a niche group for years, enjoying a resurgence in the 70s. They held on to their sartorial and musical traditions – and with it, an unfortunate penchant for violence, a behavior certainly fanned by the British tabloids. Though the gritty details remain debatable, it seemed inevitable that the conservative, volatile Teds would pick a fight with the publicity-loving, anarchic punks. The natty Teds didn’t like safety pins and they sure didn’t like the Sex Pistols.
Leee Black Childers remembered going to a rockabilly show in London in 1977 while touring with the Heartbreakers as their manager during the “Anarchy in the UK” tour. “When the lights went up, Teds suddenly descended on us and threatened to beat us up for being punks,” he said. “This kid, Levi Dexter stepped up and stuck up for us and we were saved.” Childers asked him if he had any friends, because with his looks he could start up a band. Levi recruited childhood friend Smutty Smiff and a few others and Childers became their manager. More →