On Mondays the lovely Danusia goes to some kind of spiritual workshop at the West Side Y on 63rd Street. I went once, there’s an early blog post about it if you care to look, and you can understand why I only went once. Of course, if she choses to do so every Monday that’s her choice, isn’t it? I’ve been busy past Mondays, and a few weeks ago the woman who runs the workshop was out of town or something and Danusia stayed home with me, but yesterday it was on again, and I wondered how I should entertain myself, since it isn’t just the workshop, now she’s got a bunch of her girlfriends going and they all want to hang out afterwards and chat. So what used to be waiting till 8:30 or so for her to get home has turned into closer to 11pm. I was thinking of going to a movie, there are two that are new and sound interesting; the new Bernardo Bertolucci movie Me And You, about a brother and sister with their own issues trying to work them out together in a storage locker, and the new Paul Haggis movie Third Person, which did not get a great review but I still like Paul Haggis. The other choice was to stay home and watch TV, surf the internet and eat, what I’ve done the last few Mondays alone’ and that was the last thing I wanted to do. Well, going to the lecture is probably the last thing, but this was close. I ended up going to Barnes And Noble on 17th Street, an old and favorite hang out. When I got divorced 14 years ago this was a place to meet my son Javier on visiting days, and we would spend hours pouring through books in our individual favorite book sections. I used to be really into crime fiction, war novels and spy stories, war history. Javier loved his Dilbert books and the then up and coming Japanese Manga books. I don’t think I can read another war book, there’s a guy in my writing workshop who did a tour in Iraq as an infantry officer and his stories are enough for now, and my interest in Elmore Leonard began to wane after reading 20 or so of his books. I still like Len Deighton and John LeCarré, though. Sometimes at Barnes and Noble I go to the magazine section and thumb through the plastic model magazines, like Scale Aviation Modeler; that’s an old favorite; but last night the magazine section was overflowing with browsers. I went up to the top floor where all the seats are set up for readings, you can sit there and read or do the crossword or just stare off into space if you like and nobody will bother you. I browsed the photography book section and saw a book called: Playground: Growing Up In The New York Underground, by Paul Zone. Paul was one of three brothers who had a band in the early 70’s called The Fast. I remembered The Fast; they were contemporaries of the New York Dolls and played in most of the same clubs at the time. I took the book and sat down to leaf through the pictures, hoping there would be one of me in it. Since I was at many of those clubs and gigs in the early 70’s. I didn’t find any pictures of myself, but I did find the ads pictured above and below, and to give credit where it is due I used my iPhone to snap these from the book, so thank you Paul Zone. In one of the ads, the one at the top of this post, the very first band listed to be playing at Mother’s, a club that was on 23rd Street and 8th Ave is called Clear Cloud. They were friends of mine, and I roadied for them. There was Tony Dunner, the singer from Barbados who called himself the “Black Mick Jagger.” A pair of brothers, John and Anthony Pergamo were the guitarist and drummer. Respectively. Another friend, Michael, who billed himself Mike Lash played bass. Those were different times. I looked at the other bands on those bills, The Ramones, Blondie, Talking heads, Mink DeVille, and none of them were even famous at the time. There were others that never became famous, like The Planets, The Mutants, and of course my friends, Clear Cloud. I remember seeing The Ramones when Tommy was still the drummer. I never saw Blondie, but I did see The Stilettos once, before Debbie formed Blondie. There were other clubs as well, The Coventry out in Queens, Great Gildersleeves right down the block from CBGB’s, Ones, The Reggae Lounge, and even a club in Brooklyn Heights where I saw The Tuff Darts. Tommy Frenzy from the Darts was friends with Anthony, who we all called Ace. The Darts had a song called “All For The Love Of Rock And Roll” and I still remember the lyrics.
It was fascinating, looking at all of the pictures of people I had hung out with for a quick second, and so many that are gone now; Eric Emerson, just about all of the Ramones, Paul Zone’s brother Miki, who died of AIDS without even knowing he had it. Clear Cloud has it’s casualties too. Ace was killed in a car accident in Florida in the mid 80’s. The irony of it is that Anthony was one of the best drivers I ever knew, I once saw him drive through a three car accident on the FDR drive, looking out of the back window to see all three lanes blocked as we drove on. “I didn’t want to get stuck behind them,” he declared after a hair-raising navigation through the accident as it was happening. I thought we were going to die. Unfortunately Ace wasn’t at the wheel when he was killed. Michael disappeared into the world of serious crack addiction, but Tony and John are still making music. I feel lucky to have been there in the formative years of New York do-it-yourself Rock and Roll, I saw a lot of great music and had some interesting adventures, hanging out with Eric Emerson, John giving Poly Styrene a ride to her hotel one night after their first CBGB’s gig in the silver Jaguar he’d rebuilt himself, me in the passenger set pointing out the sights of New York to her and her saxophonist in the back set. Watching John Cale at CB’s, standing next to David Bowie at a Ramones show. Lucky I was there, and lucky I survived, given my penchant for the hardest drugs and alcohol available. Ace used to rescue me from the gutter in front of CBGB’s, dragging me into the backseat of his old Ford Station wagon, which he used for his newspaper delivery route. I remember when Ace auditioned for Richard Hell after Mark Bell became Marky Ramone. There was an ad in the Voice: “Class Punk act needs drummer.” Ace went and told me it was for The Voidoids. “I didn’t get the job,” he said. If there’s one person miss the most from those days, it’s Ace.
It’s fun to get a glimpse into other worlds, especially from your vantage point.