I just got back from New York where I spent an incredible time spending – you can’t really avoid it in the Big Apple – it’s so expensive and you feel obliged to tip anything that moves. I guess I’ll be paying this one off on plastic for some time but I think it was worth it. While there, I undertook two pilgrimages – one to The Dakota apartment block where John Lennon was gunned down in the street
on Dec 8th in 1980 – (Like all of the those flashbulb memories, I vividly remember when I heard the news). I went on Christmas morning- no presents to unwrap and the streets were empty. The security guard outside the exclusive building, huddled in his little copper booth, was not in a particularly festive mood – I guess he gets asked the same dumb question all the time and after all, he was sitting freezing on Christmas morning outside a block of some of the most sumptuous real estate that only the seriously-rich can afford. So I snapped my shot of the spot, and then headed over across the road to a corner of central park now known forever as “Strawberry Fields.”
The “Imagine” mosaic in tribute of Lennon has now become a tourist attraction and has taken on something of a shrine-type status. I don’t believe in ghosts but it is surprising how easily one’s thoughts turn to imagining Lennon strolling around the park having trodden the very same paths. I guess that’s what fame and adulation creates. New York has always been jammed packed with the famous, but only a few of those of personal significance conjure of the ghosts of Christmas past.
So it was off to 315 Bowery street down near the Village to what was once, the hottest music venue in town, CBGBs. This is where The Ramones, Television, Talking Heads, Blondie and just about every band that was part of my youth got started. Its heyday was in the the late 70’s and early eighties but it survived up until about 2 years ago when it finally closed down and became an extremely trendy John Varvatos boutique.
To their credit, or business savvy, they have maintained the punk interior, replete with memorabilia and a stage set-up with full drum kit and guitars just daring you to pogo around the shop. They have kept the toilet area almost completely unaltered. I dread to think what went on there…
Anyway, I was never here in its heyday and probably just as well as I guess the transformation from a punk haven into an up market mens boutique would be difficult to swallow. So what did I do? Did I sneak a quick gob on the floor? Are you kidding?? Varvatos had a sale going and I managed to pick up a tidy jacket that was half price. I can hear Joey, Johnny and Dee Dee turning in their graves.