CBGB and Gonz's Youth: A Eulogy (Fiction)
By Gonz Blinko
“Someone called me on the phone, they said hey, hey is Dee Dee home, You wanna take a walk? Ya wanna go cop? Ya wanna go get some Chinese Rock?
“I’m living on the Chinese Rock, All my best things are in hock, I’m living on the Chinese Rock, Every thing is in the pawn shop…” blasted out the stereo as the phone sex blind chick and I stared at the emptiness that our non-functioning eyes let us see. We smoked chronic and took a walk up the Bowery to where Bleeker ends just to touch the old building where CBGB used to be.
I recited a poem BC wrote a few years ago:
“Joey, Dee Dee and Strummer,
What a bummer.”
He had more in the poem but this little bit felt like an appropriate prayer for the ghosts that surrounded the legendary nightclub where it all began. “It” of course, meaning the revolution against the glam and prog rock that dominated the seventies. On this spot, where Bleeker meets Bowery, the ghosts of our fallen heroes remain alive and the cache of weapons used to kill Pink Floyd, Genesis, Yes and all of those other, so pretentious that it makes me puke to think about them, bands remain hidden.
“Never trust a hippy!” I proclaimed at the top of my lungs standing there on the sidewalk a block north of my new home with my blind phone sex chick.
“Why not?” Asked the sexy voice beside me.
“Saw a hippy standing in the road,
Chased him a few blocks and
Punched him in the nose…
“Hippies suck! That’s all there is to it.”
She chose not to argue and I spread my arms out wide and tried to hug the old building. With my face pressed up against the grimy old grate I swore I could hear, “I am part of the blank generation, I can take it or leave it anytime…” I started to weep and my sexy companion asked why this now vacant structure meant so much to me.
I sniffled and wiped some snot onto my sleeve which must be the perfect accessory for an Armani leather jacket. I tried to catch my breath and tried not to start sobbing. “This is ground zero honey, this was the headquarters, this was the room that rocked the world…”
I continued, “Joey, Dee Dee, Richard Hell, Patty, David, Tina, the Corporate Pig$ played their last gig with Boris and Tebbers together here, Dead Kennedy shows, MDC, DRI, Agnostic Front, Exploited, Minor Threat, Television, Shirts, Yachts, Kleenex, False Prophets, Clash, The Jam, fucking Sting before he got famous, Billy Midol…” I started to sob again.
“Ira’s dead, so is Sparky, Dr. Sly, Teddy sniffing glue, fell from a roof on east 2 9, Jackie was eleven when she pulled the plug on 26 reds and a bottle of wine, Harley will never see the outside of Attica, Dee Dee, Johnny, Shulky, Allie, they’re all dead.” I started to shake with emotion.
“Who are or… were these people?” Asked my younger companion.
“They were the New York scene. This place was our home.” I said and started walking North with the X-Dog in one hand and my companion hanging onto the other. We walked silently, with the exception of an occasional command or praise of the dog until we reached Astor place and I brought my dog and companion to the cube. I sat on the sidewalk beneath it and got nostalgic.
“Gimme a cigarette,” I told my friend with the beautiful voice.
“No, you quit years ago.”
“Fine, gimme a fucking cigarette and I’ll go into the Betty Ford if I can’t quit.”
She laughed and handed me a smoke. I lit it up and started talking. “Right here, on this very spot, at this very rotating cube, Drunk Driving, a really cool band, once played a gig with no permit. We all hung out and threw beer on passers-by. It was performance art and it pissed off everyone from the opera crowd to the heavy metal kids. Like Ziggy Stardust, we took it too far. The cops came; we ran like hell, it was a lot of fun.
“CBGB, the building I was hugging, was the launch pad to the music that changed everything. Way before the Internet, our movement had DIY at its heart. Mainstream papers wouldn’t write about us, we started our own fanzines. Radio wouldn’t play us, we started pirate stations. Labels wouldn’t sign us, we started our own. It all started at CBGB and now it’s all gone.”
“But there are lots of independent publications and alternative streams…” added my friend.
“No! You don’t get it. It’s easy today, we had to fight and die for it back then. That building is a monument to the struggle.”
“You sound like it is more than a monument,” she added.
I thought, cried and said, “As long as CBGB lasted, I had a connection to my youth. That’s where BC and I met, Boris too. That’s where I wrote, they played, that’s where BC jumped off the stage and smashed his ugly mug into the speaker during a Flipper show, that’s where Dr. Sly got the shit kicked out of him by the Hell’s Angels while we all laughed, that’s where I last saw Shelly alive, that’s where it started, now, like my health, it’s gone too.”
“What about other places?”
“Max’s is still intact, sort of. That’s where I first shot up, with Dee Dee, up on the second floor. I actually first saw the Ramones at Max’s.
“It was October or November 1976, me and Red went to Max’s Kansas City to see the New York Dolls. The Ramones, no costumes, just t-shirts, white guitars and leather jackets came out. We laughed as we thought the opening act was a bunch of weenies from Jersey or the Island. Then, Dee Dee yelled his 1 2 3 4! Hey Ho, Let’s Go! It was the stuff from the first album and it hit us like a fucking freight train. Twenty minutes later, when they left the stage, every thing had changed. When the Dolls came on stage, they looked stupid in their glam outfits and sounded slow as a godamned turtle.”
“What then?” Asked my companion.
I wiped some more snot onto my jacket, my cleaner will love this, got up, took another cigarette and started walking east down St. Marks Place. “A fucking Tower records on St. Marks Place,” I stuttered through the tears, through the fears, through the sympathy for my lost youth, for having grown into a lying liar of a corporate pig, for writing about the old days, for being unable to see a future, for craving freedom, with a lower case f, like we had when we had nothing left to lose. I wanted some Chinese Rock, not chronic, China White, the potent shit, the real thing.
We entered the Middle Eastern restaurant I’ve eaten in for years and I continued waxing nostalgic.
“Right across the street, that was Club 24, Ira’s place… before he got sick.”
“Ira?” she asked.
“Live fast, die young!” I pronounced a bit too loudly and the new residents of the now fashionable East Village looked at my old punk face and winced at the look of a pathetic middle aged bugger living on the memories of when he was cool. “Live fast, die young?” I thought, “I really screwed up the second half of that…”
Our food arrived but I could only pick at my vegetarian meal. I sipped my coffee and stared into the fog. Lots of old lyrics came to mind, so did eulogies from the funerals for friends. I felt a hand on my shoulder and heard a woman’s voice, “Gonz?”
“Yes,” I said somewhat timidly.
“I thought you were dead,” said the voice sounding more familiar than not as its owner took a chair.
“I’m sorry, my pattern recognition isn’t working to well.”
The person from my past leaned forward and kissed me softly on the cheek, “It’s Allie, you old bastard.”
“But I thought you…”
“Died on September 11,” she finished my sentence. “A lot of people thought that. I moved to Austria that summer and, because I had been working in the towers people made assumptions. Speaking of dead, what are you doing still living, breathing, ambulatory and in the company of a much younger woman?”
I introduced the phone sex chick to a person I assumed had been dead for five years. “Austria?”
“I fell in love with a husband and wife and we became a triple,” she stated.
“Is it still working out?”
“Gretta and I came back to New York and we share men when we find them.”
“When you find them?” I asked the former lingerie model.
She grabbed my hand and placed it on her waist, then her butt. “With a belly and ass like this, people have no trouble figuring out why I moved into management.”
“You feel pretty good to me.”
“You, Herr Blinko are a lying fucking liar and, by the way, you are in the company of a woman at least twenty years younger than either of us.” She laughed. I squeezed her butt again and laughed too.
“I’m sure you still have the prettiest eyes on the Lower East Side.”
“That may be true but the ‘Wide Load’ sign on my ass breaks the magic,” she added. “So, explain your livingness? Where have you been for fifteen years or was it twenty?”
“Here and there, traveling, writing, avoiding the ghosts,” I said and added, “Our young friend probably doesn’t want to hear all about a bunch of people she never met nor ever will.”
“Yes, I do, I want to hear all of the dirty little secrets.”
I thought I could feel Allie shutter at the thoughts of those days long ago. Then, she jumped in, “When Gonz and I first met we were hanging out with Tebbers, Bradley, Wally and a bunch of others at Dr. Sly’s place. The conversation came around to people’s ages. BC asked the inopportune question of how old I was. When I said, ’14,’ the silence ran all up and down the Bowery, I think even Chinatown got quiet for a second.”
“How old were the others?” Asked my nosey friend.
“Bradley was only 16 but the others were either in college or had graduated. Sly was about 24. He didn’t know my age until that moment. We continued as a couple on and off for… until he…”
“I told you that these stories aren’t any fun,” I said as I waved for the waiter and the check.
As we left, I invited Allie to join us down in the new condo. She said she had nothing to do so we walked south. At home, we shared funny stories about Tebbers dropping eggs on the floor, Bradley getting his forehead torn open when a stage diver forgot to shut his mouth. We told stories about hitting people in tuxedoes with water bags from Sly’s porch and we told millions of stories of events at CBGB. A combination of the chronic, exhaustion and finding an old friend caused me to drift off into sleepy land. I woke up the next day to find Allie cooking breakfast and it nearly felt like 1983 all over again.