CBGB (the initials stand for Country Blue Grass Blues) is the officially designated birthplace of Punk Rock. It is a bar located in the Bowery of New York City described by author Christopher D. Salyers as 'No better place to drink in the wonderful nothingness of the 1970s Bowery and Lower East Side than at this bar. On the streets outside, crime soared, cracked-out bodies imitated corpses as anxious junkies scurrying like alley cats scratched around for their next fix'....'Cheap rent, cheap beer, cheap sex.' And inside CBGB the likes of Talking Heads, Ramones, Richard Hell (who writes a colorful Forward for this terrific little book), the Voidoids, and the Dead Boys introduced punk rock to the patrons.
What this superb little book celebrates is the atmosphere in which all of this history took place, a club notoriously filthy, whose owners invited the patrons to graffiti the walls, the floors, and especially the bathrooms. Photographer John Putnam has supplied designer/writer Salyers with gritty photos of the stage and the seats, the green rooms (where artists prepared before performing), the bathrooms with some of the most wonderfully vile language and demonstrations of man's ability to deface public property are at a peak, and the bar. The colors are rich and ludicrously dirty and the words left behind are scribblings by minds toked on drugs and loud music.
Is it pretty? No, but it is definitely art, if art reflects life. The form follows function here as well as any design team could approach a subject. The book is fascinating, a bit repulsive as graffiti is often meant to offend, and an art piece that makes the reader want to wash up after reading and perusing! This is an exhibition as much as a book: the CBGB is no more, having fallen victim to the gentrification and bulldozing mentality of our modern city planners. All of that make this fine little book a 'must have' for anyone interested in art movements, music movements, or the rather soulful denigration of our youth of the 70s foraging through the agonies of becoming adults. Excellent! Grady Harp, October 06
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About the reviewer
Grady Harp (gradyharp)
Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
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CBGB, the music club that helped define New York Citys "punk" scene by introducing the world to such bands as the Talking Heads and Ramones, is little more than a bar, a stage and two bathrooms. Since the club opened in 1973, very little has changed about the physical space, with one exception: the graffiti. The club has never stopped its patrons from adding to the mosaics of ink and pencil that literally cover every square inch of the clubs walls. As grimy and layered with ink as they are, the walls contain the history of the club, from the musicians to the fans.