Sunday, April 16, 2006

dc space

My running joke on this project of seeing what has happened to important, former underground music venues, is that they would all now be Starbucks. In the case of dc space, at 7th and E Streets, the joke proved true.

This location is only about a block away from the Verizon Center (the DC sports arena where Washington's professional basketball and hockey teams play) and a few blocks from the old 9:30 Club. This area has undergone a complete transformation since the arrival of the Verizon Center. In the early 80s, the area had been pretty much abandoned. When I lived in DC over three years ago, the area was quickly gentrifying but still had gaps of boarded up or decrepit buildings. In other words, you could still see the past if you looked around. Today, the redevelopment of the area is almost complete with restaurants, shops, bar, and expensive apartments. It always surprised me that this area had fallen into disrepair since it was the historical business center of DC and so close to the modern business center of DC.

dc space, formally District Creative Space, opened in late '77. Originally hosting jazz, poetry and performance art, it soon became an important place for DC's growing punk scene. According to Dance of Days, Bad Brains was banned from playing the second floor performance area because the energetic dancing of the crowd threatened the collapse the 19th century floor.

dc space shut its doors '91. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

For a while now, I have been thinking about finding the locations of famous sites in New York punk history and photographing what has become of them now. I just don't have a real sense of where places like the Mudd Club or Max's or the The Kitchen were, and it would help me to better understand the music and the city to locate them. However, I have not gotten a chance to start this project.

On a related note, I was recently on an extended business trip in DC, so I decided to figure out where a number of the venues for early DC punk were. Above is the location of the original Madam's Organ at 2318 18th St., NW. There is a bar by the same name today, across the street about a block and a half up, but the original Madam's Organ was formed by dissident students from the Corcoran School of Art. It later developed into a sort of Yippie collective. The Yippies let the punk kids put on shows, and it was about the only place bands like Bad Brains could play. The collective shut its doors in 1980.

I will be posting pictures of other DC venues: the 9:30 Club, DC Space, the Wilson Center. It is a study of the fast gentrification of DC. I lived in DC a little over three years ago, and on the recent visit I was surprised by the fast pace of gentrification. The whole city seems like it is under construction/renovation. However, this strip of 18th St. is little changed from when I lived there. Bars, restaurants and shops. It is nice to see and independent record store in the basement of the old Madam's Organ. Presumably, the neighborhood was a little different in '79-'80. However in Mark Anderson's and Mark Jenkin's "Dance of Days, Two Decades of Punk in the Nation's Capital", they note Madam's Organ was evicted because the neighborhood was gentrifiying and the rent was raised to $350 a month (for the entire building).

You will notice my dog Seven tied to the stairs. Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 04, 2005

Tragedy, DMBQ

I went out for the DMBQ show tonight at Club Exit in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, a couple blocks from my house. DMBQ are a Japanese noise-psych band that has been around since 1988, but their first US tour was this spring.

DMBQ's live show, which I witnessed on their last tour, mixes equal parts musicianship and amazing showmanship. Playing guitar with their teeth. Climbing on top of the PA. When they played last year, this effect was intensified by the venue, which was also Club Exit, a rented out Polish disco with over the top design, a great PA, dance club lighting, and a smoke machine. It was truly the best show I attended last year.

Tonight's show was at Club Exit again, and I have been looking forward to it for a while. I recommended that friend's in other cities go out to their shows on this tour. When I got to the club, there were signs stating that the show was cancelled. I spoke to the promoter because DMBQ was supposed to play again tomorrow at a different venue in the neighborhood. I was intending to go to both shows. Todd P said that DMBQ had an accident today on their way up from their gig in Baltimore. Their van crashed in Delaware. The drummer Mana "China" Nishiura, who had previously also been the drummer in the longstanding Japanese punk band Shonen Knife is dead. A number of the band members and the US manager are in the hospital but should pull through.

This is a terrible tragedy. We don't often think about what a difficult life it is as a touring indie band. There is no real money in it for the band, they are doing it for the love of it and hope to make gas money. A short, concentrated tour means a lot of driving without a lot of sleep (although this does not appear to be the cause of the accident here). Today this ended in tragedy.

Sympathies and prayers go to China, her family, and the band.

from April Club Exit gig
Photos from April tour in Boston

UPDATE: article from the Gloucester County Times:
Posted on Sat, Nov. 05, 2005

Turnpike crash kills 1, injures 4

CARNEYS POINT TWP. – A three-vehicle accident on the New Jersey Turnpike Friday afternoon left one person dead and four others injured, state police said.

Police said at 12:51 p.m. Friday a black Mitsubishi Eclipse driven by Sara Jacobi, 22, of Mount Vail was headed northbound on the turnpike near mile marker 0.3.

For an unknown reason Jacobi, who was driving in the left lane, went onto the left shoulder of the turnpike, cut back to the right and went into the center lane, police said.

Police said Jacobi struck the left rear side of a Ford Econoline van.

The van, with five people inside, slid and tumbled several times landing in a clearing to the side of the turnpike, police said.

Police said one person was ejected from the van and pronounced dead at the scene by the Salem County Medical Examiner.

Three of the passengers were sent to Christiana Hospital in Stanton, Del., and one passenger was sent to The Memorial Hospital of Salem County police said.

One of the passengers was in serious condition and in surgery Friday afternoon. The other three passengers had minor to moderate injuries, police said.

Police said Jacobi sustained no injuries.

Police said after the van tumbled it hit a truck that was stopped on the side of the road but, no injuries and little damage occurred from that impact to the truck.

Police were unable to release the names of the victims in the van until next of kin had been notified.

The accident remains under investigation.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Ari Up at CB's benefit.

A lucky kitty spotted on the subway on the way to a new home.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Lady Liberty through the branches of an orange tree in Red Hook.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Spring time in Brooklyn.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

In New York, War Is Indeed Hell, but Only After 10 PM

Tonight's installment of Frontline on PBS featured military personnel in combat situations in Iraq. Not surprisingly, they use colorful language in certain situations. PBS sent stations a heavily edited version and required that they sign a waiver acknowledging that PBS could not protect them from the FCC if they wanted to receive and transmit the unedited version. This differed from the normal PBS policy where they would simply send out both versions and permit the stations to choose which to play. Editorialists have cleverly labeled the edited version the "War is Heck" episode.

I am glad that the New York PBS station didn't fully capitulate to this censorship by playing the edited version. They did, however, move Frontline from its normal 9 pm slot to 10 pm. This action got them out of the FCC's indecency guidelines. While obscenity is prohibited at all times, the Supreme Court has ruled that indecency in broadcast can only be prohibitted when children will be listening or watching, so indecency is only actionable from 6 AM to 10 PM. Indecency is "language or material that, in context, depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium, sexual or excretory organs or activities." In clear contrast to the plain meaning of this language, the FCC has ruled that in interpreting the "community standards for the broadcast medium", "The determination as to whether certain programming is patently offensive is not a local one and does not encompass any particular geographic area. Rather, the standard is that of an average broadcast viewer or listener and not the sensibilities of any individual complainant." Thus different standards don't exist between New York and Mississippi.

The three prong test for obscenity is: "(1) an average person, applying contemporary community standards, must find that the material, as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest; (2) the material must depict or describe, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by applicable law; and (3) the material, taken as a whole, must lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value." See Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15 (1973).

The third prong prevents just about anything mainstream broadcasters would broadcast from being considered obscene. While I was a DJ at WQFS and was fighting for a safe harbor from 10-6, I tried to explain this to the management, but they could never understand the conjunctive nature of the test. All three prongs have to be met. The 1st Amendment ensures that material with artistic or political merit can be broadcast when young children are not likely to be listening. The FCC doesn't like this, so it tries to intimidate broadcasters. With small operations like WQFS it succeeds. They have to worry about periodically having their license renewed and can't afford to upset the FCC. WNET was willing to play the episode after 10 but still has to worry about retaining federal support in these days of reduced corporate underwriting.

And yet more again.

And yet more.

Photos from Christo's Gates this Saturday.

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