Things are starting to really ramp up here at DiWuelf Publishing. We are just under two weeks away from the official release date of No Slam dancing, No Stage Diving, No Spikes and things have gotten so crazy around this book! It’s the beginning of an amazing ride for all of us and I, for one, cannot wait to see where it takes us.
We have gotten some really strong early reviews from a number of sources; it seems as though (at least so far) the folks who’ve gotten ahold of preview copies are really getting into the City Gardens story. The best thing I’ve heard so far came from a friend; someone who is very involved with today’s hardcore scene who is known for booking amazing shows and keeping the true spirit of hardcore alive and well. He said (and I am paraphrasing) “it reads like I am sitting around a campfire hearing and telling show stories with old friends…” This coming from someone very respected; someone who has not only been there, but knows the inner workings of how a scene operates and what it takes to keep it sustainable. A higher compliment I cannot think of, and to hear (actually, read) this, really makes me feel good. I know it’s exactly what I set out to do: to make these stories really feel like you (the reader) were there, complete with exaggeration and embellishment. That’s the beauty of this oral history format: even eyewitness accounts (especially when viewed through a 30 year telescope) tend to vary and twist with each re-telling; with each different perspective. Is it truth? Is it accurate? Depends on how you saw it.
One of the best things I’ve gotten to do so far was the episode of the Black N Blue Takeover we did on East Village Radio. The Takeover is a purist’s hardcore show that celebrates the then and now of culture rich with history and tradition. It’s a great fucking show: high energy and, of course, amazing music. The Black N Blue guys are the ones responsible for bringing you the Black N Blue Bowl (formerly known as the Superbowl of Hardcore) every year, something that’s been running since the ‘80s. So, for me, and old hardcore kid, to be invited on to the show because of the book, was an honor. And what a memorable night it was!
Amy and I were joined by some real heavy-hitters: Howie Abrams (all-around good guy who’s been in the music biz for years and has seen some of the best in hardcore, hip hop and metal come and go), the inimitable Dave Vision (I just can’t say enough good things about Dave) and the legendary Mike Judge. Yeah, I was a little bit star-struck, and I am not ashamed to admit it! These were three guys who intimate knowledge of City Gardens and their stories (the ones that made it on-air) were priceless. If you weren’t into the hardcore scene at City Gardens you might not even be aware that Judge (the band) filmed their one and only music video there in 1990. If you were there that night you know what a crazy show that was. If you weren’t you can hear the story from Mike himself. At that time hardcore bands didn’t make videos. It just wasn’t done. Other than the legendary We Gotta’ Know video, or Agnostic Front’s classic Anthem, you just didn’t see professionally-made videos from hardcore bands, for a number of reasons. So, yeah, this night in 1990 was a pretty big deal for a scene that was just beginning to explode with popularity. And there is nothing like hearing the firsthand account from the guy who was at the center of it all. Mike expanded on the story that is told in No Slam Dancing, and to hear of this burly, anti-rockstar guy talk about lip-syncing the same song over and over again… It’s something else!
I won’t give away all the details of the show, but it was a lot of laughter and a lot of great stories (and a lot of cursing!). The energy that Dave Vision brings to anything he’s involved in is always infectious and every one of us in the studio felt it that night. Dave’s got tour (and war) stories for days, and he is not shy about sharing them. I am not exaggerating when I say that, at times, we laughed so hard it was difficult to breathe. To hear these grizzled vets tell these vivid, amazing stories is probably the best part of this whole experience, for me, at least.
Anyway, the show airs tonight (Tuesday, February 25th 8pm est) and I am excited to have people hear what fun we had. I am excited that a younger, worldwide audience will get to know the name City Gardens and (hopefully) get an idea of how important it was, not just to us, but to the history of underground music overall. I am excited that people who might never have heard of our City Gardens will take the time to find out what it meant to us and why it was so monumental.
One thing about hardcore: it’s always paid tribute to its rich history. It’s one of the first things you’re taught as you become a part of it. Those that came before you did so much for your benefit, so you better pay attention. And nowhere is that vibe more palpable than in New York’s L.E.S. We were steeped in history; surrounded by it (no matter how much the city tries to sanitize and Disnefy it, you can still feel it) and it was inspiring.
Thanks SO much to the whole Black N Blue Productions family for inviting us and treating us like family; what an amazing bunch of people! Thanks to Howie, Dave, Mike, Mike’s wife Karen, and everybody involved with the entire night. It was something I will never forget!
Check out the show tonight here
Watch Judge’s video for “Where It Went” (shot at City Gardens) here.