Posts Tagged ‘Patti Smith’

“The best New York bands of the late ’70s”

January 16, 2012

That’s according to this early 1980s ad, offering a free cassette (cassette!) of the best 1970s downtown rock to anyone who forks over $12 for a year’s subscription to the East Village Eye.

Television and Patti Smith are at the top of the list, as well as lesser-known bands who haven’t been quite so mythologized, such as The Model Citizens and Theoretical Girls.

It was a very different East Village scene than the one we have today, explains Lisa Robinson in a 2002 Vanity Fair article, by way of Bryan Waterman’s 2011 book, Marquee Moon:

“No one talked—ever—about the stock market. No one went to the gym. Everyone smoked. Bands did two sets a night. Television jammed for hours at a time. Onstage (and off), Patti could talk like nobody’s business. . . . Patti Smith and Television and the Ramones and Talking Heads and Blondie were like our own little black-and-white 8mm movies that we thought would conquer the world.”

Getting a sandwich—and hit on—at the Automat

March 7, 2011

The Horn & Hardart Automat is one of those institutions New Yorkers seem to collectively mourn the loss of.

Call it early 20th century fast food: Put a nickel in the slot and turn the chrome-plated knob, and a glass window would open granting you access to the food item of your choice: macaroni and cheese, baked beans, Salisbury steak, pie and of course, a hot cup of coffee.

From 1912 to the mid-1960s, the city had up to 50 Automats, like this one depicted on Depression-era color postcard.

The easy-access food wasn’t its only appeal. The Automat was a place you could sit and nurse a cup of coffee all night long—and got hit on by a famous Beat poet, as Patti Smith recalls in her tender memoir about her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe, Just Kids.

[Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe on their West 23rd Street fire escape, about 1970]

“One drizzly afternoon I had a hankering for one of those cheese-and-lettuce sandwiches.

“I got my tray and slipped in my coins but the window wouldn’t open. I tried again without luck and then I noticed the price had gone up to sixty-five cents. I was disappointed to say the least, when I heard a voice say, ‘Can I help?’

“I turned around and it was Allen Ginsberg.

“Allen added the extra dime and also stood me to a cup of coffee. I wordlessly followed him to his table, and then plowed into the sandwich.

“Allen introduced himself. He was talking about Walt Whitman and I mentioned I was raised near Camden, where Whitman was buried, when he leaned forward and looked at me intently. ‘Are you a girl?’ he asked.

“‘Yeah,’ I said. ‘Is that a problem?’

“He just laughed. ‘I’m sorry. I took you for a very pretty boy.’

“I got the picture immediately.”

The last New York days of Sid Vicious

April 17, 2010

The beginning of the end for Sid started on October 12, 1978, when girlfriend Nancy Spungeon was mysteriously found dead from a stab wound in room 100 of the Chelsea Hotel.

Over the next three months, Sid was arrested for Nancy’s murder, set free on bail, and sent to Bellevue after slashing his wrists in a suicide attempt.

After his Bellevue stint, he was then shipped back to Rikers Island for slashing Patti Smith’s brother’s face with a bottle at a club.

Released from Rikers on February 1, 1979, he headed over to 63 Bank Street (right), where his new girlfriend had an apartment.

During a party that night celebrating his release, Sid shot up heroin several times. (Reportedly, he got the heroin from his own mother.)

He was found dead there in the morning.


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