I had the good fortune of experiencing the tail end of NYC’s foray into Punk and Hardcore. Born in the early 70s I was too young to witness the scene raging at the end of the decade but the East Village and the Lower East Side remained true to form well into the early 80s when I was still too young to be there … but was there none-the-less.
I was what parents fear in NYC (especially in the early 80s when NYC was just a touch emotionally beyond “Summer of Sam“). I rebelled very young and very hard and put myself in some extraordinary situations (jungle “J” train at 3 am though Bushwick, C- Squat sleep-overs on 9th and C- long before trendy- and the like).
At 14, on any given weeknight you could find me sitting up front with the bouncers at the Pyramid Club on Ave A btwn 6th and 7th(Jimmy G. from Murphy’s Law and Ray fromWarzone respectively) at all hours, but still wide awake and ready for the Hardcore matinee at CBGBs on Sunday. I did have a curfew, but it really didn’t matter. I think back and feel sorry for my parents, but at the time I was completely ensconced in my own world; so different from the Upper East Side.
I would dutifully take the 6 train downtown from 68th and Lex to Astor Place and walk east into My Own Private Idaho…
Those were the years when the Cro-Mags and Agnostic Front were considered old-school- part of the same “original” crew as Ray from Warzone, who, for the most part grew up in and around Tompkins Square Park (today unrecognizable).
I had a terrible crush on Harley Flanagan who, by that time, could always be found walking his dog in quasi Krishna/ Skinhead garb along Avenue A.
I was young, but committed and believed I had “arrived” being photographed for album covers with Warzone, sitting in a pizza place with Murphy’s Law and the Beastie Boys pre-show at the Beacon; always backstage at Irving Plaza and The Ritz (pre Webster Hall) and of course at Cbs.
But lets face it, I would always struggle to not be a “poser;” I wasn’t a street kid, I wasn’t even working class. Perhaps 9 tattoos would help … it seemed to at the time. I had to prove my commitment.
The Aztec, the Alcatraz, Save the Robots, 7A, the Cherry Tavern, old-scene characters like “Frenchy” and Crazy Dave and Lazar; it was romantic, there is no other way to describe it. It seemed so real, so much more real than Park Avenue and private school and Benetton Sweaters with Tiffany bracelets.
I don’t regret the experience. I regret the worry I caused my parents. If we are all a composite of the experiences we accumulate over a lifetime, I am rich and I am young and better off for the wear.