The Flux Capacitor

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Sunday, October 15, 2006

CBGB - an end of an era.

Last night, CBGB hosted its final show. The rock/punk mecca in the East Village in NYC would not be allowed to renew its lease, and after many battles, owner Hilly Kristal finally gave up.

With CB's closing, it got me thinking to all the memories that I have of that place. I've spent many nights at that place, either with Ralph or by myself, watching bands for cheap. I'd take the F train from Brooklyn, get off at either Broadway-LaFayette or West 4th Street, hang around the Village for awhile, and walk my way east towards CB's. Maybe I would cut through Astor Place, work my way to St. Marks Place, and walk down what is pretty much 3rd Ave. towards CB's.

I spent Ralph's 21st birthday there. We ordered Long Island Iced Teas and Kamikazes, made a pit stop at the Continental for another drink before heading to the subway - both of us stumbled towards the N train, transferred to the F to that crappy apartment where I lived, and devoured chicken wings until we both passed out on the floor.

Other moments:

* Ralph and I sneaking in Rolling Rocks that we bought from across the street.

* Getting to see Bush play their first US show ever, for 8 bucks.

* Getting to see Bad Religion at CB's and Coney Island High, for 5 bucks each.

* Getting to see Weezer (with That Dog opening) and basically watching them from the front of the stage.

* Making a weird new friend named Hommy (pronounced Homie), and going to see H2O with him (and seeing that band many times in a short span).

* Going with Ralph to see this girl Laurie's band, who I went to elementary school with - she used to be this girl in school who was extremely smart and loved to debate, and now she was a bass player in a death metal band.

* Hanging out at the old CBGB restaurant next door, which loungy chairs and pizza. Ralph and I dreamed up our fake band there, called Maverick, and we even wrote in the bathroom there that "Maverick was here."

Those are just a few moments I've had there. That place was so grimy and grungy, and I loved it. I've been there when it was packed and when there were only a few people there. I've peed in the nasty bathroom downstairs. I've even been in the backstage room where the bands hang out (thanks to The Muffs).

I haven't been there in awhile, not since I still lived in NY. It would probably have stung more if I was younger, still living in NY, still going to shows. But with CBGB closing, it really won't affect my life right now, but it doesn't mean I will forget the good times I had there. It just reminds me about how much I loved hanging out in the East Village - all those used CD shops and the awesome pizza in St. Mark's, Nevada Smith's bar, Webster Hall club, BBQs on 8th, and those silver dollar pancakes and unlimited coffee at Washington Square Restaurant. I could just wander around for hours by myself on a Saturday, buying CDs and getting 50 cent hot dogs at Gray's Papaya. Or meeting Ralph on the train, bullshitting for hours, and buying t-shirts from the places on 8th or in St. Mark's.

I wish I had more time in NY when I went for work - it would have been cool to see the old hangouts again. Although it wouldn't have been the same - I'm in such a different place now that I wouldn't be thinking of going to a show or buying tons of cheap CDs. But I would be missing this girl a ton:

She, and Melissa, are my life now.

But also, thinking about this stuff makes me think about Ralph again, and what a shame it is that he is no longer with us. I can only imagine what could have been if he was still alive. Would he still be in Syracuse, getting back together with his gf that he just broke up with? Or maybe move out to the Boston area, and make a life for himself here? Thinking selfishly, I think if he moved here, I would have that best friend nearby that people need - someone who you can call up out of the blue and ask if they wanna hang out (Melissa had that with her friend Amanda). Someone who would have been my best man at my wedding. Someone who, despite a stretch where we didn't talk because of arguments, would always be there for me (and me for him) because we have been through so much together. Dammit Ralph, I still can't believe you're gone.

And now, CBGB. But at least i have a wonderful family, living in a wonderful house (with a wonderful brand new garage door).


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