Save CBGB's--Birth of A Social Movement
Some months ago, via the clubs website, I wrote a letter to CBGB's landlord, Muzzy Rosenblatt, CEO of BRC, a $25 million dollar a year organization which serves many homeless New Yorkers. I asked him to consider the impact closing NYC's Punk Mecca would have on three generations of alienated kids who swear punk music was their last line of defense against suicide, homicide and abject alienation. It's old news that music saves many of us from miserable lives, providing an alternative subcluture that buffers us all from self hatred and marginality.
The scene also imparts marketable skills---the Ramones never took music lessons. Many of today's acclaimed photographers, graphic artists, entrepreneurs, 'zine publishers, scribes, indie music companies that evolved out of the DIY ideology of punk are also self-taught. DIY ideology (Do It Yourself) convinced us we could do anything, that we didn't have to be connected, rich, or pretty, tall, or skinny to create art. It offered us our own version of the American dream. We came, unwashed, unwanted, cultural refugees---bridge & tunnel kids who fill the club, from Jersey, the boroughs and Long Island--the spawning grounds of our best legendary punk bands---Blondie, NY Dolls, Patti Smith, Ramones.
Like many old-school punks, I started out as a plus-one, the Slugs' singer's girlfriend, taking pictures, cutting hair, sending out flyers, arranging guesat lists; we did everything ourselves, just like millions of kids all over the world. CBGB's is a school of the streets, offering education, enjoyment and possibility. So I asked Muzzy Rosenblatt to consider transforming the sacred space into an interactive museum, like Seattle's EMPLive, or Cleveland's Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Why can't NYC boast it's own local culture? CBGB's already attracts international tourist trade, kids who just wanna see where it all started.
The letter was intercepted by Kabi Jorgenson, who was working with club owner Hilly Krystal, determined to save CBGB's by having it declared a cultural landmark of NYC. With Jonathan Demme, Fab Five Freddy and Joey Ramone's mother, Charlotte Lesher, and Ernie Fritz, we networked, nagged and cajoled everyone we knew to help the cause. (http://www.villagevoice.com/nyclife/0519,flylife,63821,15.html)
I think we all needed something to believe in, and I refuse to lose one more thing---two towers, three Ramones, one firefighting Bully, War All The Time. Today, August 31, 2005, a standing militia of punks will assemble in Washington Square Park, troops rallied together by the valiant efforts of "Little Steven" Van Zandt and owner Hilly Krystal. The birth of nation.
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