Wednesday, July 30, 2008


I had only been living here a few months. About a dozen of us, mostly people who came up form Philly, met at Lex and Beth's Astor Place crash pad before walking a few blocks over to the Ritz. I wasn't that big of a Surfers fan, but our guitarist, Dave, had been going through a musical reeducation program taught mostly by Marc, and I certainly agreed that their guitar player was fucking brilliant. Plus, their shows were beyond legendary at that point, so this was going to be both a good lesson, and a fun time in our new city.

There are only a few things I remember about the show:
- Before they went on, we ran into some guy that one of us knew, and he had just dropped a few hits of acid. We were honestly worried for him.
- There was a naked dancer downstage left. She had a circular smily-face cutout, possibly on a stick, and she held in front of her face the whole time.
- There were some disturbing films projected over the whole band. The well known penis reconstruction surgery footage was one thing, but somehow more disturbing, and disorienting, was the simultaneous projection of a NASCAR race running backwards and upside down, along with an episode of Charlie's Angels.
- George seems to remember getting pepper-sprayed in the pit.
- There was lots of fire.

When we got back to the apartment, we were all pretty happy, and compared out favorite parts. I looked over to a far corner of the living room, and there was Marc and Dave, deep in conversation. I went over, and remember hearing something like the following:
Dave: "Marc! Don't you see? It was the work of Satan!"
Marc: No, Dave, really, it's okay."
I guess we threw him in the water to teach him how to swim.

Everyone slept there (there were always people crashed out on the giant sectional, and the floor) and the next morning, the Philly contingent left for home, taking Lex with them (for good this time), and I was left alone with Beth. She asked if I liked donuts. I think it was the first thing she ever said to me. I said yes, and she took me to a diner on 6th avenue that made their own donuts. We sat there talking in that diner for so long that they finally had to ask us to leave. I think my nostalgia for that show is most likely bolstered by the memory of that next afternoon. Those days seem so far away, they may as well be fiction.

Tonight, close to 20 years later, I went to that same landmark hall, and saw that same band.
There were some differences:
- I went alone, but knew a hell of a lot of people there.
- I tried to find a viewing angle that made things look familiar to me, but everything about the show just seemed small. I know I've "grown" and all that, but seriously.
- The screen looked the size of a postage stamp at the back of that stage.
- The projectors are now digital, run from laptops.
- There were two strobe lights, and one smoke machine.
- It wasn't very loud.
- A steady stream of teenagers walked on and off the stage with guitars, basses, etc, and sat in with the band throughout the show.
- He really is a motherfuckin kickass guitar player.
- There was no fire.

It started to get better towards the end when there were some surgery videos, and, at one point, what might have been a birth video run back and forth a bunch. And the teenagers added some screams and saxes that actually worked out okay. But the stage banter was uncomfortable and unnecessary, nothing seemed to flow together well, and they didn't play my favorite songs.

The show turned completely depressing when GH decided that not hearing himself as well as he'd like meant that he could shove the monitor guy, and throw a beer at him. I guess punk rock is really about childish temper tantrums when things are not perfect, and disrespecting others, instead of putting on a show for your fans. Sadly, not the first time I've seen that kind of behavior from a "legend," and with that example set for the kids being mentored on stage, it won't be the last. Unfortunately, this memory won't turn to nostalgia in 20 years. Maybe something romantic will happen tomorrow afternoon.


Blogger marc said...

didn't you see the b-holes with me also at city gardens in trenton while we were at solebury?
gosh, josh, the things you remember. i believe this was in the same month span as when i got on that astor place balcony ledge with that menacing hockey mask.

1:52 AM  
Blogger josh said...

No, you saw way more shows at City Gardens than I did for some reason.
Somewhere, there are pictures of you on that ledge, with a broom, sweeping, and wearing a hockey mask.
Didn't you go out there with a mic one night and tell jokes?

3:03 AM  
Anonymous marc said...

that "somewhere" is not so far away t'all. i have them.
"Didn't you go out there with a mic one night and tell jokes?"
i'd like to say i did, but i definitely did not. still, i'd like to say i did, so's as not to ruin what seems like an entertaining memory in yr head. especially since you missed out on some good city garden shows.
here's to your future glory josh....!

3:21 PM  

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