“I know, I know; you were born too late, but here’s a secret passage way to the past… If you operate this book correctly, it will transport you back to those wondrous days of yesteryear when rock & roll was the only language spoken here.”
Legs McNeil’s foreword to the Rock & Roll Explorer Guide to New York City
When I was a kid the world moved at such an excruciatingly slow pace that I thought the planet would never change. The hands on the clock seemed to be revolving backwards, and the only way to judge time moving forward was when a new copy of Mad magazine hit the magazine rack at Morton’s Pharmacy. I’d sit at the soda-fountain counter with my Vanilla Coke and Ring Dings, with my thumbs in my ears, trying to absorb the entire issue in one sitting since I couldn’t afford to buy it.
Other than a new issue of Mad, nothing much happened.
But somewhere along the way the world moved into hyper drive. I don’t know exactly when that was, maybe it was at the end of the ‘70s when everyone started doing cocaine in an attempt to crash into next week? Or maybe it was in the ‘80s when MTV made it seem like more was happening than it was? Or maybe the ‘90s when the internet suddenly made the world very small? Or the 2000s when all the rules changed?
Yeah, somewhere along the line, technology launched us into the future, and before anyone had time to catch their breath, we became nostalgic for yesterday. Yeah, the more we fear the future, the more we recycle the past, which is probably why you’re reading about this book.
Yeah, I know, you were born too late. I know you’d like to go back to your favorite time in rock & roll history, and maybe, just maybe, imagine yourself being there when the Beatles stepped off the plane at JFK Airport? Or hanging out at the Apollo Theater with Little Richard and Buddy Holly tearing up the place? Or puking backstage at Max’s Kansas City with Johnny Thunders and Sid Vicious?
Yes, the possibilities are endless!
And, thanks to this book and a bit of imagination, you can go anywhere and be anyone you want, because this isn’t really a book! I’ll let you in on a little secret, this book is actually a rock & roll time machine! That’s right, a time machine!
If you operate this book correctly, it will transport you back to those wondrous days of yesteryear when rock & roll was the only language spoken here, and the only thing that mattered was whether you had tickets to see the Stones at Madison Square Garden tonight!
Or Patti Smith performing at the St. Mark’s Poetry Project with Lenny Kaye!
Or Danny Fields introducing Iggy Pop to David Bowie at Max’s!
Geez, I’m getting pretty nostalgic myself right now, making me think, “Which part of the past would I like to revisit?”
Hmmm, I’d like to go back to my first threesome at the Punk Dump at 365 10th Ave., the Punk Magazine offices that also doubled as our apartment. That’s when I thought I wasn’t being kinky enough, so I dumped maple syrup over the two girls during the sex and ended up glued to the sheets in the morning after my companions left.
That’s when I learned that food and sex don’t mix.
Or maybe I’d head over to Nany Spungen’s apartment a few blocks away on West 23rd Street to take a shower and watch Nancy practice her new striptease routine over a plate of scrambled eggs she cooked for me. (Nancy was a lot nicer than you’ve been led to believe.)
Or maybe I’d go over to Anya Phillips’ apartment on St. Marks Place between 1st Ave. and Avenue A (which later became Café Mogodor) to take a bath? Did I mention we did not have a shower at the Punk Dump? I was so dumb that when Anya suggested she tie me to the bed and watch her masturbate, I answered, “Why the fuck would I wanna do that?”
I was not well-versed in the art of S&M culture.
Instead, I had her make me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, which I ate in the tub while Anya played the new Talking Heads record. Hey, I was hungry, okay?
But most of all I’d like to go back to Arturo Vega’s loft at 6 E. 2nd St., right around the corner from CBGB’s, and hang with Joey Ramone, Robin Rothman, and Tammy Scott, the little redhead that was always dressed in a cute little Girl Scout uniform at CB’s.
Or maybe it was a Brownie uniform?
Robin Rothman would always be giving me shit for suggesting the Ramones do a benefit concert to provide bulletproof vests for NYC policemen, since they had to buy them with their own money. Yeah, NYC was really that broke back then.
Robin was a real hippie and didn’t appreciate the irony of a bunch of Bowery losers like ourselves providing lifesaving equipment for the cops, and we’d spend the morning arguing until I eventually talked her into lending me a buck fifty to buy a quart of beer and a pack of Marlboros.
Yeah, things really were that cheap.
Joey would just stand there, twirling his hair, with that sly smile of his, as Robin and I quarreled, waiting for it to be right again.
Or maybe I’d like to take the subway up to 34th Street, to Madison Square Garden, the closest subway stop to the Punk Dump, and stare at the Hustler magazine ads that read “Think Pink” and appreciate how truly pornographic New York City was. And I’d think how lucky I was to live in a city that had a half dozen “Happy Ending” massage parlors on every midtown street corner! Yeah, NYC really was that filthy, in dirt and in mind!
So take this book, read it, and then go explore all the dreams, desires, and fantasies of the past, and know that you’re not alone. Then put this book away, and go start living them.
The future belongs to you!