As I deal with the varied vicissitudes of being out (for the time being) of a day job, I've been trying to do a bunch of stuff that I might not have done were I still, you know, in a day job. Hence, last Thursday night, I met up with my similarly day-job-less pal Louise W. (who I met in geometry class at Jefferson Township High School in 1977; she was a freshman, while I was a mathematically-challenged senior), with blankets in tow, to get a sweet spot on the lawn by the Prospect Park Bandshell for the opening night of the Celebrate Brooklyn! series of concerts at said bandshell, featuring Mr. Isaac Hayes. We were soon joined by a host of day-job-possessing pals, including Kenny-Evans-wedding maid of honor Rubina H., wedding usher Patrick K., my buddy Mario of DVD Palace fame, and more. (My Lovely Wife, alas, was tied up in rehearsals for a play.)
It was a beyond-perfect night for such an event, which was hilariously prefaced by a bunch of goofy speeches from varied representatives of the municipality. Hayes was pretty awesome. He can't rock the gold-chain "Black Moses" vest like he used to—he instead wore a long black-and-gold robe—and he had three electronic keyboardists emulating the sounds of a 21-piece orchestra, but close your eyes and it was Hot Buttered Soul and Live at the Sahara Tahoe all the way, except without the stage patter. It was as if South Park had never even existed. "Lord, ain't nobody making music like this no more," one delighted old-schooler exclaimed a couple minutes into "I Stand Accused." Damn right, as Hayes says on one of his most famous hits. Speaking of which, the extended version of the theme from Shaft with which he closed the show had enough wacka-wacka for ten porno movie soundtracks...
Late afternoon Friday I hied down to Manhattan's Leonard Street, with a two-fold purpose. First, to attend a book party/gallery reception celebrating No Wave: Post-Punk. Underground. New York. 1976-1980 by Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore and longtime critical gadfly Byron Coley. An essential photo collection and text for anybody who looked in terrified wonder at the back cover of No New York, and subsequently listened in terrified wonder to its grooves.
This was my scene, these were my people. I managed to impress a couple of the young 'uns at the hopping party by telling them that I had indeed witnessed the Irving Plaza triple-bill that was a) the first gig of openers The Bush Tetras; b) the DNA set wherein an extremely unhealthy-looking nude blonde wandered onto the stage and succeeded in distracting not one of the band members; and 3) the Feelies show during which Glenn Mercer broke his A string in the middle of the solo of "Moscow Nights" but immediately executed a nifty transposition and finished without a hitch. Those were the days.
Alas, the always-entertaining former DNA frontman Arto Lindsay (pictured on the above cover of NY Rocker, with Contortion/Tetra Pat Place) did not make it, nor did droll Contortion/Raybeat/Golden Palomino Jody Harris. I was able to catch up with Bar/None label founder Glenn Morrow and his lovely wife, artist Elizabeth van Italie, Donnie Christensen, the Contortions/Raybeats drummer who now engineers Phillip Glass recordings, among other things (Donnie also had the thankless task of co-producing a demo for a band fronted by yours truly way back in the day), my esteemed colleague Amy Taubin (who came with her pal Dale Kaplan, the original drummer for The Gynecologists), as well as peripatetic musician/author (and former Premiere contributor) Alan Licht and stalwart music writer and recent Sonic Youth biographer David Browne, both pictured.
Moore himself (above) was in a suitably expansive mood, but he would put on his poker face as guest bassist for the reformed Teenage Jesus and the Jerks across the street at the Knitting Factory later in the evening. (The second reason I was there.) Legendary No-Wave provocateur Lydia Lunch came over from her Barcelona home to stage a couple of reunion sets in honor of the book. Here's Lydia and a couple of pals at the reception.
She's almost cracking a smile in my picture, but on stage she never broke character, haranguing the audience and doing some pummeling bottleneck slide noise. It was, besides glorious noise, pretty convincing. (And refreshingly brief—under 25 minutes, for sure.) Granted, age has given Lunch a quality that's a little more "get off my lawn" than "the leaves are always dead," but that's life, and from the back of the Knit you couldn't really tell. The set was opened by the mighty Information, who, among other things, did a great cover of Mars' "Puerto Rican Ghost," number two of the imaginary No Wave hit parade (DNA's "Blonde Red Head" is number one, in case you're wondering).
The exhibit, incidentally, runs until July 10 at KS Art, 73 Leonard Street, New York, NY, 212-219-9918.
Saturday morning, it was off to Secaucus by way of Penn Station, to get a New Jersey Transit train. The NJT train passed through Paterson, the charm capital of the Western Hemisphere...
...(I lived there for almost ten years, so remember that, anybody who ever wants to call me a snob or question my "street smarts"...) on its way to its ultimate destination: Suffern, where the local convenience store wants you to know;
I was there to go here, the great Lafayette Theater...
The Lafayette is the incredible labor of love of another old friend, Mr. Nelson Page. Nelson oversaw the meticulous restoration of the 1924-built movie house, which contains a full-blown Wurlitzer Pipe Organ, here being played by Jeff Barker in full evening wear (a peculiar sight at 11 in the morning):
The attention to detail at this place is spectacular—Nelson even has the sound from the feature presentations piped into the rest rooms, a really cool old-school touch. The Lafayette still functions as the local movie house, showing new releases—the new Indiana Jones is the feature there now, and probably plays really well in the setting—but spring and fall Nelson and Peter Appruzzese present their Big Screen Classics series, and there's nothing like it. I missed most of this spring's season, but had to make it out there yesterday to join my other old pal Mr. Joseph Failla and catch a screening of...
...a film which has a peculiar resonance in both out lives, and which will play a substantial and hopefully amusing part in the memoir of a movie-crazy childhood that I'm looking for someone to pay me to write. The screening was prefaced by, among other things, a performance by Tony Babino, a quite-good impersonator of Jolie.
Oddly enough, I didn't spot anybody from the previous evening's Teenage Jesus and the Jerks set in the audience.