I am not going to wax poetic over the closing of CBGB's. I'm sad to see it leave, but I was never there, so I have no personal attachment and I can't be one of those wankers who weeps for a cause they know nothing about. Ian got the also-defunct July for Kings to sign my CD there once, but that's as close as I ever got. While I admire all the greatness that came out of the early days, (The Talking Heads, Blondie, and Patti Smith, specifically) I'm more saddened by what it's become and how it's dying a pop star death instead of a punk one.
CBGB's died years ago. The birthplace of punk burned as soon as Hilly Kristal decided to market tee-shirts to teeny boppers. Why didn't he buy the club lot with the blood money Hot Topic paid him? I bet if you asked any such sporting bimbo to name three bands, not including the Ramones (the tee-shirt of which her mall-emo boyfriend is wearing) that came out of the infamous Bowery bar, she might be able to stammer, "Blondie," but only because that tee-shirt is hanging in her closet.
Worse, he's moving the club to Las Vegas. Vegas, baby, Vegas. How many punks can you imagine in Las Vegas? He'll probably host a star-studded opening with Hilary Duff (sporting her ultra-punky "Stuff" line) and Kevin Federline on the mike. I hope Joey Ramone haunts him for the rest of his days. There's a word in the punk world for this kind of treatment — sellout.
If we wanted to properly memorialize CBGB's, we'd let it die. Having Patti Smith sing at the closing ceremonies was a good touch, but the truth remains that CBGB's is not unlike an aging pop star — desparately clinging to a dead era, exploiting the glory days with a big glittery show in the has-been capital of the world. He might as well design the club with plastic plants in giant brandy snifters and an all-you-can-eat buffet. Can you imagine David Byrne flailing across the stage in his big suit, wailing, "This ain't no party, this ain't no disco, be sure to tip your waitress?"
Death is the only suitable finale for a punk — a violent, iconic death, not sequined jeans and crab cakes at what should have been a funeral long ago.
"This place is not a temple," said Patti Smith. "It's a state of mind." Hopefully those who were once there will remain in that state of mind, a bittersweet recollection of what it used to be, and for those who grow up knowing CBGB's as a Vegas venue, well, that's no state of mind I wish to be in.Powered by Sidelines