As CBGB’s closes its doors I feel a sense of loss and emptiness. I lived in NYC for nearly three years from 1990-1993. However I had been dating this girl there for nearly four years before I had become familiar with club and haunted its hallowed environs for various shows.
The first time I went there I was awestruck at how small it was at how crappy the bathrooms were. You could catch the Plague in those restrooms. But one thing was certain; from the minute I walked into the place I felt the history, the legacy and the importance of it. It was 1989 and I was awestruck by NYC and this girl I met from Brooklyn.
Our first proper NYC date was dinner and then a show at CBGB’s, I can’t for the life remember what godawful crappy ass band was playing that night (they were on Sub Pop). But I do know that I was in a temple…a church, if you will. As I was leaving I passed Joey Ramone coming in the door and he said “Hey” and I said “Hey, you make great records.” I nerded out. I went back again about six months later and stood next to Lou Reed in the crowd for a few seconds before he scurried off. That sealed the deal, this place was cooler than shit.
In 1991 I got a really hokey job hosting a music interview and video show for Manhattan public access. It was scary and weird but I did get to interview a band at the bar of CBGB’s right when it had opened. It was only then at that moment that I saw the place in white light and realized what a shithole and dump it really was.
In 1993 I went to maybe twenty shows there and each time the aura of the club and the people there transcended the music. Maybe this was because the early 90s had a lot of crap bands touring around.
In 1994 I was there with my then ex Karin to see Fishbone. I do remember that date well because Lenny Kravitz stepped on my foot and didn’t say “excuse me.” I called him an Asshole and stepped on his with my steeltoes.
I remember later in 1994 when I was there with my friend John. As he was going to the bar Todd Rundgren spilled some beer on his shirt and then proceeded to apologize profusely. He ended up buying us a round as he was very polite.
In October of 1996 I saw Johnny Cash at Irving Plaza and then raced across town euphoric to CBGB’s to get drunk with my friend Jen who is a comic book artist. I remember seeing Cash then remember coming into CBGB’s and going on a bender, then did the totally punk rock act of vomiting in the urinal. It was great.
In 2000 I was in New York and just popped by to get a shirt for someone and get a few drinks. I do remember it was early and quiet and I could really hear people talk. No band was on yet. I do remember looking around and seeing how much the joint had changed and hadn’t. It was still edgy, dark and run down, but now the kids were different and the shows were not as good. I knew then that things were different.
Regretfully I did not made it back for the end. But I do know this; it was one hell of a party and one great, long, loud concert all the time. It was a lifestyle, an epicenter of creativity and expression, a drinking hole and a home. I for one will miss having it around.