It’s hard to believe that the 4th anniversary of the closing of CBGBs is already upon us. Patti Smith got the headlines, but the two Dictators shows that preceded Patti were really the heart and soul of the weekend. There are a thousand stories to be told from those nights. Here’s mine.
To set the stage: there we were, at the end of the Saturday gig. We had just been thrilled by the Dics’ fantastic performance, capped by the surprise encore appearance of Tommy Ramone to sing “Blitzkrieg Bop.” “Goosebumps” and “tears” were the popular descriptives from everyone in attendance.
We had watched both nights from the same vantage point, which is the Ross side, AKA stage left. If you’re familiar with what was the layout at CBs, the wall on that side was a large piece of particle board covered with old band fliers. Well, over the course of the 2 nights, the fliers gradually disappeared into the pockets of patrons who wanted a souvenir from their last time in the shrine. Once the fliers were gone, people started busting off pieces of the wall itself. By the end of the Saturday gig, more than half of the particle board was gone.
I made my way downstairs for a final pilgrimage to the grossest men’s room in recorded history, and once back upstairs, I went to get my coat before leaving. I saw the busted wall, said to myself, “What the hell, why not?” and broke a small piece off (pictured above) to put on my chotchke shelf, along with the Rat ashtray, the Maybe Elvis toenail, and the Manowar fudge. No sooner had I reached down to grab my coat then I heard a squeaky voice yelling “You!! Yer outta Heah!!”
At first I thought the sleep deprivation was kicking in, and I was hallucinating about being tossed from one of my baseball games by a 15-year old umpire. But then I turned around and found myself face to face with Hilly Kristal’s Lumpy Rutherford clone of a grandson, flanked by two of his minions, and realized that he was talking to ME!! We had been entertained earlier both nights by Lumpy’s loud and unwanted supervision of the roadies, who rolled their eyes and cursed under their breath over his hovering while they were performing the same tasks they had done a thousand times without his “help.”
“Um – okay,” I replied, figuring that it wasn’t necessary to humiliate the kid in front of his underlings by pointing out that I was on my way towards the door anyway. And so, my final exit from CBs was the Walk of Shame, escorted by 2 embarrassed bouncers, who mumbled, “We’re really sorry about this, man.” Kicked out over a thumb-sized hunk of particle board!! Were they planning on taking the torn sheet to the new location? Meanwhile, other patrons were palming drink glasses and surreptitiously carving hunks off the bar for their own memory shelves. Not only was I booted, but I’m pre-banned from the Vegas CBGBs!!
Mothers, hide your children. I will surely drag them down to the depths of hell with me, for I am a Bad Man.
— Salvi C.