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TOM VERLAINE - The Local East Village Blog - NYTimes.com


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TOM VERLAINE

Nightclubbing | Richard Hell and the Voidoids


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Pat Ivers and Emily Armstrong continue sorting through their archives of punk-era concert footage as it’s digitized for the Downtown Collection at N.Y.U.’s Fales Library.

voidoids-Richard Hell w_set list Richard Hell with set list.

You can’t talk about punk rock without talking about Richard Hell. Television, the band he founded in 1973 with then best friend Tom Verlaine, was one of the groups – along with Blondie and the Ramones – that laid the foundation for the downtown scene at CBGBs. Sex Pistols impresario Malcolm McLaren purportedly looked at a poster of Television in 1974, pointed at Richard and said, “I want to start a band that looks like him.”

With his chopped hair and ripped-up shirt, Hell looked like nobody else. And with his kinetic, jangly stage presence and slinky bass, he sounded like nobody else. “Richard had some charisma you can’t buy in a store and apply to yourself like a cream,” recalled Television guitarist, Richard Lloyd. ”He had ‘it,’ the inimitable ‘it,’ the mysterious ‘it.’ His loopy bass lines were cartoonish in their wonderment; he was fantastic.”

Not everyone in the band agreed and Richard left to join the Heartbreakers with Johnny Thunders in 1975. But sharing stage and song time with Thunders seemed like a Television rerun for Hell: “I wanted to try something quicker, more strange than the stuff Johnny wanted,” he said. Read more…


James Wolcott’s Memoir, ‘Lucking Out,’ Gets Down and Semi-Dirty in the East Village


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lucking outCourtesy of Doubleday

Luckily for East Villagers, James Wolcott’s memoir of his days as a young culture critic in a now nearly vanished city, “Lucking Out: My Life Getting Down and Semi-Dirty in Seventies New York,” places much of its meat and potatoes (along with plenty of gravy) right here in our very own backyard. Steering a middle course between the sometimes overly concentrated, every-word-counts prose of his Vanity Fair columns, and the more loosey-goosey style he deploys in his blog at the same publication, Mr. Wolcott reconfirms his position as New York’s wittiest critic.

Despite its pleasing portability (the book, out later this month, comes in at about 270 pages), “Lucking Out” covers plenty of ground, bopping from Mr. Wolcott’s mice-ridden “man-cave” on East 12th Street, down to CBGB, and back up to the Village Voice, where he made his name. It slides west for a gawk at the gay heyday of the West Village, then uptown for some quality time among the balletomanes of Lincoln Center (with a pause for skuzzy “Taxi Driver”-era Times Square porn along the way), and includes countless screening room séances with his mentor and muse, the late New Yorker film critic, Pauline Kael, to whom large portions of the book can be seen as an extended and touching valentine. Read more…


In Search of Marcel Proust, Finding Tom Verlaine


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Tom Verlaine(c)2011 Nanci Ezzo, All rights reserved.

According to the weather prophets it should have been raining but it wasn’t raining so I went to the Tompkins Square Library to see if I could get Vol. 1 of Proust, but they didn’t have any Proust, and probably never do have any Proust (“Who’s Proust?”), so I decided to take out another novel instead, only to realize I didn’t have a library card, a wallet, or any form of ID, unless you count a cell phone, which I don’t. I did have cash, though.

On to Mast Books, five blocks down Avenue A, but first I encountered… The Racist. A drably turned-out white woman in her thirties, looking like a hipster gone to seed, possibly a junkie. In fact I’d already passed her a few minutes earlier on the way to the library, where I heard her shout racial slurs at more darkly hued people than herself outside the deli on 10th Street, but I wasn’t really paying attention, and frankly it just seemed weird. She looked like a dyed-in-the-wool East Villager. Down on her luck, maybe, but a characteristic member of the neighborhood nonetheless. It was almost unthinkable. Read more…


Five Questions With | Bryan Waterman, Author of ‘Marquee Moon’


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waterman190Courtesy of Bryan Waterman

With over 80 titles now published in the acclaimed series “33 1/3” (book-length critiques of particularly esteemed pop records running the gamut from “Electric Ladyland” to “Kid A”), it has fallen to Bryan Waterman, a NYU professor, to dissect Television’s 1977 recording, “Marquee Moon.” His study, which shares a title with the album in question, weighs in at a portly 222 pages (most of the books in the series are much shorter), and will delight both Television fans and nostalgists of seventies punk-era New York. Mr. Waterman explains why the album just might be the prize catch to emerge from the glory days of CBGB.

Read more…


Appreciating the Music of Television


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TelevisionHeartonastick Tom Verlaine performing at Central Park Summerstage, 2007.

There are certain artists one wishes one could outgrow. They belong to one’s youth, after all, and perhaps they should remain there, along with all the other youthful things one is relieved to have outgrown. But for me, the music of the CBGB’s-era band Television, and in particular its singer and songwriter, Tom Verlaine, is one of those youthful enthusiasms which (so far, anyway) threads its way through my life with embarrassing persistence. Occasionally it disappears for long periods while other, more novel interests take hold, but then, like mosquitoes in Spring, back it comes, nipping at the senses as tenaciously as always, only in this case the result is intense pleasure rather than irritation and blood marks.

Television was, or is — no one seems to be sure of its exact current status — the band best known for inaugurating the CBGB’s scene in the mid-1970’s; for having to this day a small but ferociously loyal group of devotees; and for having been eclipsed, at least in terms of popularity, by other bands of that era such as Talking Heads, Blondie, The Ramones, et al. Even by the monstrously egotistical standards set by most rock stars, they seemed weirdly indifferent to fame and record sales, but like the Velvet Underground their musical influence remains pervasive and lives on in a variety of formats which now include amateurishly filmed but invaluable concert clips put up on YouTube.
Read more…


East Village Tweets


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On The BoweryMargot Wood

Would-be messages from the East Village, in 140 characters or less.

Instructions from the Muse

“Tweet!” the birdie cried. “I am tweeting,” the surly poet
replied. “Tweet! Tweet!” “Look, you dumb… sparrow, I
just told you…” “Tweet!”

A Serious Mutt

Would I be caught dead showboating in that dog run
across the street? Nyet. I’m not some pansified “pet”
pawing the air for adoring looks,

I’m here on important business: Waiting for my Master
to exit the Tompkins Square Library with his usual dose
of videos and books

We ♥ Poets!

Ginsberg’s E. 10th St. apt. gutted; O’Hara’s @ 441 E. 9th
unmarked; the plaque outside Auden’s home on E. 8th
gets the dates wrong

Observer With Cataracts

He finds it hard to not be trivial. He skims, he skates, past
the same stores & faces. Epitaph: “He was not convivial,
& he left no traces”

Materialism

He’s stuck with it, a life of fabricated purpose and no
God. Mud encrusted with jewelry stores. His Western
inheritance, along with not

knowing how to dance. Temples, mosques, are alien, and
the Church does not speak. “Maybe,” he thinks, “It’s
time to speak to It

Read more…