CBGB the movie: "I was there, man"

I wrote this a few days ago. A friend of mine who edits some important music website hired me to write about the CBGB movie premiere, but illness, personal tragedy, and technical difficulties prevented it from being published by it's intended recipient. So here it is now in case YOU want to read it. 

When I showed up at the theatrical premiere of the CBGB’s movie I had already seen the whole thing on youtube a week prior. I sung it’s praises to like, basically everyone, and I think at least six people watched it because of me. The universe punished me for lying about this movie being good by forcing me into a situation where I would have to watch it for a second time, in a place where I couldn’t smoke cigarettes or eat an ice cream sundae or tweet the whole time.

I had never been to a movie premiere before, except working craft services a couple times when I cooked for a catering company, so this was very exciting to me! As a kid I was on Steampipe Alley once, but that is probably the most glamorous thing I’ve ever done prior to tonight.

I’m not a movie critic and I don’t know anything about film. I watch a lot of crappy horror movies, without much of a critical eye, and sometimes I watch a TV show or something. I think I’m qualified to review this movie though! Here are my credentials:
  1. A few years ago I ate and reviewed every slice of pizza in Manhattan so I know how to review stuff.
  2. I snuck into CBGBs through the back door after getting kicked out of there for bringing in booze probably like 800 times when I was a teenager. When we were sixteen my best friend smashed the toilet in the men’s room with a sledgehammer. When we were seventeen my other friend took a shit on that same toilet! Or on whatever toilet they replaced it with. You know what I meant. I think he was the only person to ever shit on that toilet in the 40 years that CBGBs was open. It was like a five minute dump and during that time about a dozen people stopped watching whatever band was playing (the Queers, maybe?) to form an audience while my dude dropped one. Also: my high school band played our CBs Audition Night with an as-yet-unsigned Puddle of Mudd! Also also I went to like 9000 hardcore matinees on Sunday afternoons even though I’m a tiny wimp and all the dudes that went to those shows looked like Action Bronson dressed like the Bushwackers.
  3. I’m really punk still even though I’m 30.
So yeah, my friend offered to send me to write a review. I’m sure plenty of more qualified people will be reviewing the film, so this will mostly be a review of the movie premiere. I hope that’s okay with you!

I was really excited because I’ve never been a proper journalist and Claire even got me “Red Carpet Approved” and I didn’t know what that meant but it sounded absolutely enchanting. Turns out what it meant was that I got to the thing like hoooooouuuuuuurs early and then I stood around on a wood platform with a bunch of photographers. I learned two important things on that platform:
  1. Photographers are mostly horrible men who say awful things about women so casually like it’s no big deal.
  2. Duff McKagan is really hot still and kind of looks like David Bowie. 
I spent my time tweeting CBGB’s Movie Red Carpet Fanfic, but after a while that got hella boring and I was cold and I was smoking too much so I wandered inside and read a book in the bathroom for a while. I’m currently reading A Fine And Private Place by Peter S. Beagle and it’s wonderful so far!

Eventually it seemed like the movie might be starting soon and so I made my way into the farthest possible theater and took the seat in the furthest back corner and kept reading my book. It was like an hour before the 8:30 screening time and there were maybe six people in the theater. They seemed teenage but at some point I started thinking everyone under 23 was a teenager, so who knows. Eventually some more people showed up and they were all women and they were all different ages and they all seemed to know each other! They were yelling and screaming about some actress from the movie called Stana Katic who they are all superfans of and they were taking videos and trading pictures and calling each other by their twitter and tumblr handles. It was so cool and earnest and way better than rich middle aged white dudes wearing CBGBs Forever tshirts under blazers and like, fake Rolling Stones LES rock’n’rollers doing studied pouts and wearing stupid paisley scarves.

At one point these two The Strokes type douches walked in and kind of paused at the door to survey the crowd. Everyone in the room was being super loud and rambunctious and they were so excited to be at a movie premiere for a movie that their celebrity idol was in. Like, one lady exclaimed, hyperventilating, “I DON’T EVEN CARE THAT SHE’S IN VIP AND I’M ALL THE WAY UP HERE! JUST KNOWING THAT I’M IN THE SAME BUILDING AS HER BREATHING THE SAME AIR AS HER I MEAN… UGH!...” and she trailed off in excitement and everyone in the room just shook their heads knowingly all, “yeah, us too.” And these two dudes just could not hide their revulsion. It was palpable from across the room. I get it because being a superfan of a celebrity is really vulnerable and uncool and that’s scary to dickheads and they can only respond by sneering at it. But I’d definitely rather be in a room full of Stana Stans than at fucking Max Fish or that other one.  Lit Lounge. I had to google “LES Hipster Bars 2001” to remember the name of Lit Lounge. FYI, there are soooo many yelp lists called “LES Hipster Bars” apparently. Weird world.

ANYWAY, the point, I guess is that the Stana Katic fans were way cool and fun and really eager to talk and enjoy themselves and weren’t putting on airs or pretending. (In fact if you look closely at the top left corner of this video you can see the moment where a really kind woman who was next to me took the time to explain the entire Stana Superfan Subculture.) And those two fake Strokes are imposters and they’re miserable and their friends only pretend to like them but actually hate them and besides that’s not even how cool people dress anymore so they were either Secretly Old or they Just Moved Here. Open invitation to those two dipshits to hop in a fucking time machine and stay there.

Then the movie started and I watched it again and look, it’s not that bad, okay? All these dorks are gonna get so mad but like WHAT. EVER. Who expected the CBGBs movie to be good? Is this what you want to spend your time worrying about? There was some stuff I really liked about it.
  1. Hilly Kristal was a saint and he deserves to have a movie about what a saint he is, even if it’s a corny failure of a movie.
  2. Lou Reed looks like Moose Mason dressed as Slim Shady dressed as an undercover cop trying to sneak into a punk show.
  3. You can totally tell it was filmed on a NYC set in some other town (Savannah, GA, apparently) and not actual New York and it’s a fun game to spot the different signifiers like the shape of the awnings or the type of streetlights.
  4. I like the idea of having John Holstrom illustrate bits of it even if the director totally blew it and made them look stupid.
  5. Corny failed punk movies are always fun for punks to watch and be like, “UUUUH-UUUUUUH” with their hand over their mouth.
  6. I don’t know who any of the actors were, basically, but they all looked kind of like other actors from some angles. Like, there was a sort of Jared Leto and a kinda James Franco and a maybe Willem Defoe and I think Legs McNeill was played by the actual singer from the All-American Rejects.
There was also stuff that totally sucked:
  1. So much of the plot is just straight up told to you by characters instead of shown via action and that gets hella boring. Like there are these bikers that hang out in the bar, and then one day the Lead Biker is like, “Hilly I think we’re going to leave this place because we scare your customers and it looks like something big is on the cusp of happening here and we wouldn’t want to stand in the way of your dreams and inevitable success” and it made me think that the director or writer or whoever thinks I’m stupid and doesn’t think I can figure stuff out.
  2. Why couldn’t we have any NYHC cameos? You couldn’t get Freddie Madball to be the loan shark? C’mon. 
  3. There are at least two moments where they show footage of a modern subway and there was no point in them being there and it really bugged me. It’s okay if you can’t afford to make a fake subway car, but these new ones have little LED displays on the sides and this is supposed to be the 70s! I don’t know why that one dumb thing out of the millions of dumb things bugged me so much, but it really bothered me a lot.
All that said, I genuinely enjoyed watching this movie the first time, alone in my underwear, when I could like, clip my nails and fill fanzine orders or whatever while I was watching it, but the second time it seemed unbearably long and totally boring.

In conclusion: Go see this movie if you are a Stana Katic superfan or if you like stuff that sucks.

Slice Harvester in the ART WORLD?! + New Fanzine next week!


Hey guys. There are some Slice Harvester related events coming up starting next week and running well into September that all New Yorkers should check out or be doomed to an Eternity of Poserdom.

First and foremost, BABYHARVESTER! This is my long-in-the-works collaboration with the Baby Castles dudes, finally coming to fruition. Basically, we are installing a pizzeria, which I think is called DUKE REUBEN'S PIZZA KINGDOM, into on of the exhibition spaces at Clocktower Gallery and it is gonna be BANANAS. There will be pizza (kindly provided by Pizza Suprema), video games, art by Yusuke Okada, a bunch of total weirdos, and I will be debuting the new (and FINAL?!) issue of Slice Harvester Quarterly!!!!

We will be having a soft opening on November 28th, a REAL OPENING on December 4th, and another event on December 11th. If you want to go to any of these, emaievents@artonair.org to RSVP as space is limited since the gallery is housed in a federal building. We have pretty much infinite capacity on the 28th, gotta cap it at 120 people on the 4th which is basically infinite, and then the 11th we can probably only invite the first 30 or 40 people to RSVP. What that means is twofold: 1. RSVP ASAP! 2. If the night you wanna go to gets full (I doubt it will), you can always go a different night.

These particular nights are the times when the pizzeria will OPEN and serving pizza and also the times when zines will be for sale in the space. Otherwise, you can just go look at how weird it is any weekday from 12-5pm when Clocktower is open. We just won't be there to weird you out.

It behooves me to mention that this installation would not have been possible without the generous support of the Warhol Foundation and Build It Green NYC. Seriously, thanks guys!

In other news, visual artist Maggie Lee, an old acquaintance of mine from the zine fests of yesteryear, has decided to include issue #1 of SHQ in her installation at the New Museum for She's Crafty. She also included an embarrassing old zine that I made almost 10 years ago. I won't say what it's called but I'm sure if you go you can find it if you look hard enough! It's only up this Friday-Sunday, so make sure you get there and learn about my shameful past.

And finally in ART NEWS, favorite friend to Slice Harvester CAROLINE PAQUITA has a new calendar out from her printhouse PEGACORN PRESS. It is really beautiful and each one is handmade and everyone should have one or else. Buy them for everyone you know and they will like you better than they did before you gave them an awesome gift.

Did I mention my zine? I guess only in passing. Well, Slice Harvester Quarterly #7 is off the presses, riddled with typos as usual. Most notably, the masthead on the first page says it's issue #6. OOPS! Anyway, they will be available for sale on the 28th and the 4th at Clocktower, and then in the usual places after that. It'll probably take me a month before I update the merch page to include them, but ce la vie!


BREAKING NEWS: Mediocre Pizza Parlor ROCKY'S II Is Still Mediocre.

I just want to remind everyone that Rocky's II, a pizza shop I reviewed in September of 2010, is probably still exactly the same as I said it was then. I wouldn't know because I haven't been back there because why would I go back to a place I didn't totally love? But the real question is this: why am I bothering to mention this right now? There are hundreds of mediocre pizzerias that are probably still mediocre, so why am I singling out Rocky's II?

It's because this weird thing happened the other day. I loaded up my email and it was mostly a handful of Slice Harvester comments. This is something I'm slowly growing accustomed to, but not that strange these days. This stack of comments were all Anonymous and were all for Rocky's II. The first one came in at 5:23 am and simply said "LOVE ROCKY'S PIZZA." That is innocuous enough, I guess. Some drunk dude got on the website and looked up his favorite place and felt compelled to let me know how he felt about it.

The next four of them were all posted between 5:42 and 5:46 am and were ostensibly from 4 different people. One of them, a charming story about a man visiting NYC from Lawrence, Kansas and taking his two sons to Rocky's, is word for word identical to a comment from November of last year that was posted on my Rocky's I review! Just now I googled a couple of the shorter comments and found them, word for word, on menupages.

So now I'm asking Rocky's II to cut it out. You want to try and deceive Yelp or whatever, fine. Go for it. Those website are run by robots, not yumans. But Slice Harvester is not run by a robot. Slice Harvester is run by one weird dude. And I do not let shit like this slip by me. My life up to this point has pretty much been the exercise montage from Wet Hot American Summer. Like, basically I have spent the past 29 years getting trained by Elliott Stabler to be tougher than you. I walk the streets at night. I go where eagles dare.

But there's definitely something I appreciate about the chutzpah of a guy posting the same exact verbatim reviews on multiple websites and expecting it will never catch up to him. This one time when I was 13 or 14 my mom drove me to Connecticut to hang out with this friend of mine from summer camp. We got stoned at her house and were just kind of sitting around wondering what to do and she was like, "have you ever been to Stew Leonard's?" and I was like, "huh?" and she was like, "it's this supermarket where they have all these animatronic vegetables and milk cartons and shit that dance around and it is so weird and come on, let's go." And she stole her mom's car and drove us to Stew Leonard's. Maybe she was older than me and had a learner's permit, but we can all agree that this story is cooler if we weren't allowed to drive at all.

When we got there it was so weird, and I was so stoned and such a little adolescent dude and I was wandering around looking at all this singing produce and I saw this package of fudge that looked delicious. And I picked it up, and I began to eat it. My friend and I continued to stroll and I continued to eat the fudge and eventually the fudge was done, and being a young tough, I surreptitiously stashed the package behind some packets of Stoned Wheat Thins which was really funny to me because I was stoned and so were the crackers. Wooooaaaaaahhh.

As we were leaving, a kindly older gentleman in a security uniform stopped us before the door and asked, "don't you kids have something to pay for?" and I was all, "whuh uh us who me no not me you must be thinking of some other kids who need to pay for stuff, we're just here to see the robots." And the guy was like, "listen son, not only do I have you on tape eating a package of fudge, but..." and he pointed down at my chest, and my eyes followed his finger, and there was fudge all over my Toy Dolls t-shirt.

I looked back up at the security guard, panic stricken, but his eyes were kind and he said, "listen son, you got caught. It's okay. I understand. I was young once. Go get the package of fudge and pay for it, and then leave and don't come back. I don't want to call your parents if I don't have to. I'm giving you a break here. Take it." And so I fetched the package and paid for my fudge and left and I've never been back in a Stew Leonard's since.

So Rocky's II Guy, I need to let you know you've got fudge on your shirt. But like the kindly supermarket security guard of my wayward youth, I understand. You're trying to boost your business and you don't really get how the internet works. It's okay. I'm giving you a chance to pay for your fudge and you don't even have to spend any money! I would just like you to apologize for trying to deceive me and my readership. It doesn't even have to be public, you can email it to me if you like. I don't really think that's too much to ask.

Postscript: Since I posted this yesterday two more fake comments showed up on that review, and no contact from Mr. Rocky's II.