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Thread: What will happen to CBGB?

  1. #16
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    NY artists' fight to keep Beat alive
    By Ewan Jones
    BBC News, New York

    A place of spiralling crime and sky-high drug abuse rates; an artistic hub unrivalled in scale and diversity; a prime spot for real estate development - if any one area embodies the various faces of American life, it is the East Village in downtown Manhattan.

    Over the decades, the Village has played home to a whole generation of American artists, from Bob Dylan, to Allen Ginsberg, to The Ramones.

    But the communal culture of the East Village is under threat.

    Soaring real estate prices, and former mayor Rudolph Giuliani's "zero tolerance" crackdowns on nightlife venues, have transformed the area in recent years.

    As young artists are driven increasingly further afield, to areas such as Brooklyn and Hoboken, many are wondering whether the East Village has lost its countercultural edge.

    The Howl Festival, which ran from 21-28 August, aimed to answer this question in the negative.

    Now in its third year, the event - named after a poem by Beat Generation poet Ginsberg - attempts to celebrate Village life in all its forms, and highlight the factors threatening its existence.

    Liberal refuge

    Phil Hartman, founder and Executive Director of Howl, is adamant about the importance of the East Village.

    "We always joke that the East Village should secede from the rest of America. But seriously, this community has offered artists and young people of all varieties a liberal refuge from the narrow-minded, parochial attitudes elsewhere in the country," he says.

    Hartman himself recalls moving to the Village as a young graduate: "I worked at first in a music store, and soon enough found myself hanging out with people like Patti Smith and Tom Verlaine [singer from 70s punk-band Television]."

    Hartman's memories and contacts gave him the idea of putting on a yearly arts festival. Howl's schedule spans everything from the stars to the gutter.

    With this rush of development that's going on, it's just squeezing everybody out of the city
    Debbie Harry

    East Village legends such as Debbie Harry and Lou Reed play alongside a spectrum of performers ranging from the ferociously talented to the downright weird.

    "Howl has certainly proved that the East Village sense of community has survived intact," Hartman says.

    The numbers certainly bear him out - an estimated 15,000 people packed into Tomkins Square Park, the scene of anti-police riots in the 1990s, to attend Wigstock, a flamboyant pastiche of the notorious Woodstock gatherings.

    A demonstration of the strength of community that exists within the East Village, can be seen in the affection obviously felt towards the area, by artists who have long since moved on to worldly success.

    Desirable location

    Debbie Harry moved to the East Village as a young, aspiring artist.

    Last week, she returned, to play an intimate venue near Tomkins Park, with her band The Jazz Passengers.

    "I first came here when I got my first job in New York City," she says.

    "Really, you wouldn't recognise how much the East Village has changed. Back then, it was a good cheap place to live.

    "...With this rush of development that's going on, it's just squeezing everybody out of the city."

    Phil Hartman is realistic about the central problem facing the East Village - the irresistible move to development, and gentrification.

    "We're digging in there," he says. "Perhaps it's a battle that we can't win. This is now one of the most desirable locations in Manhattan".

    The iconic punk club CBGBs, which launched the careers of bands such as Talking Heads and Television, is a case in point.

    With its lease due to expire, the massive hike in rental prices means the venue faces eviction. A campaign to save CBGBs has been launched, and is prominent throughout the village.

    For somewhere with the heritage and recognition-factor of CBGBs, campaigns can certainly be mounted. But the pressing issue is how the budding artists or small businesses of today could even consider moving into the area.

    "What we can do is try to encourage the idea that the East Village is as much a place as a state of mind", notes Hartman. "So hopefully the community can be understood by anyone with the right attitude, be they from Hoboken or Tokyo."

    Lou Reed rounded the festival off with a reading from Alan Ginsberg, and his own poetry. At Mo Pitkins, a small night venue owned by Hartman, Reed was far removed from his standard image as reserved and cold.

    Grinning throughout his delivery of "Howl", the quintessential East Village poem in its celebration and despair at inner city New York Life, he pauses after a number of lines in acknowledgement. "This stuff is just incredible!"

    Reed is plain on the significance of Ginsberg and East Village life in his own development as an artist.

    "Think how boring life must have been before this poem," he remarks. "It's really very simple - without Ginsberg, there would have been no me." How many artists were there among the small crowd who would be able to say the same of Ginsberg and Reed in a generation's time?

    Story from BBC NEWS:

    Published: 2005/09/06 15:04:46 GMT


  2. #17


    Quote Originally Posted by LOVENYC456
    There still open for now. i love your title NYIMB's are everything that is wrong with this awesome city.
    Aren't the NIMBYs fighting to keep CBGB open?

    Small point, but CBGB has no "s" at the end.

  3. #18
    Forum Veteran
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    New York City


    Trivia time!

    The whole name of the club is CBGB OMFUG, both acronyms. What phrase do the letters stand for?

  4. #19

    Default I Know part of it

    cbgbs actually stands for counrtry blues and grass

  5. #20


    CBGB stands for Country Bluegrass Blues, Other Music For Uplifting Gormandizers.

    Again, there's no plural s at the end of CBGB.

  6. #21
    Forum Veteran
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    New York City


    Schadenfrau got it right.

    BTW, I think that the s is generally used with an apostrophe, like a possessive.

  7. #22


    But there's no posessive "s" in CBGB, either.

    I'm not sure why, but people have a tendency add either a plural or posessive "s" to the end of brand names.


  8. #23
    Forum Veteran
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    New York City


    There's also just "CB's".

    You've actually heard people say "Walmart's"? I thought that "the Walmart" was weird enough.

  9. #24


    You're right, TLOZ: I've never actually heard "Wal-Mart's," but I have heard "The Wal-Mart."

    I wonder what it is that causes people to add the excess information?

  10. #25
    Forum Veteran
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    New York City


    I guess it rolls off the tongue more easily.

  11. #26


    NIMBYs are definately NOT fighting to keep CBGB open. Hell, if CBGB was trying to start today and wanted to open in a certain neighborhood, NIMBYs would be the one trying to stop it.

    BTW, thank you for the info. I'll try to head there tomorrow.

  12. #27


    That complex is horrible. I too love that area of my neighborhood, and I was said to see it go.

    I just wish the money would go somewhere else and leave us in peace.

  13. #28

    Default if katz goes

    i need to get to the bowery poetry club before the ruin the entire neighorhood

  14. #29

    Default oops

    i left YUPPIES out, need to get over there before the yuppies destroy that area completly

  15. #30


    The Bowery Poetry Club opened in 2002, long after the "yuppies" arrived.

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