Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Yesterday, I arrived home to find a big box on the doorstep. The big box contained
a book...a very big book, 510 pages. The book was a copy of Up is Up But So Is Down,
New York's Downtown Literary Scene, 1974-1992. It was edited by Brian Stosy and published byNew York University Press. I opened the book with trepidation, expecting memories to come hurtling out like mad bats.
I recieved a copy because I gave permission for some of my art work to be used. I was art edidtor of an East Village Literary Revue called Red Tape in the early 80's.
I had moved to New York in 1978 because I felt that I was smothering in Northwest Ohio and there was so much I wanted to do! I had a Toyota pick up truck and I worked for a neon gallery and moved rock bands when I first arrived. Before I knew it, I was playing bass and guitar in some of the bands I was moving, like The A Band and Glenn Brancas Guitar Symphonies. I was exhibiting art and comics in galleries and my buddy, Steve Greber started the Red Tape Magazine.
I played in a pretty tight eclectic Punk/Funk ensemble with some French musicians called Belle Starr. I met my wife in that band. I played in a few other bands at the same time. Cold,Tired and Hungry....I would really love to have some of the music that band made on tape today...we were really great. I played in a bass, drums and sax trio that was punky funky rap stuff and then there was Mr. Bubble. A glorious experiment in pop chaos, we set about to create an anarchistic atmosphere of fun. We would play anything, Little Richard, James Brown, The Beatles, The Monkeys, my own songs. I did an interview once where I claimed that my musical theory was that any song could be played with the same three chords. Of course, I didn't believe that, but one good line is worth a thousand realities. I loved playing bass guitar and tried to play lead guitar and I think I was actually a pretty interesting guitarist for a few months. Now,
I play guitar rarely and it's always a struggle to make my fingers fit in the tiny frets.
So, this book showed up. Lots of names and memories of a time and a place that doesn't exist anymore. Many of the writers are long dead. The themes and mood of the writing changes as the issues affecting the writers change. You can track the appearance of AIDS, first as as mysterious disease that makes it appearance in the early 80's to the plague it became a few years later. The wave of drug abuse that
wasted so many of the inhabitants. The creativity of the writers is pretty scary.
This book makes you want to write. You may not like what you read. Some of the stuff is pretty harrowing, but the force and need to express burns and makes you gag like the smoke from a safety flare.
As I said, I opened the book cautiously, remembering....

1 comment:

Village Green said...

So neat to have some of the gaps filled in regarding your artistic journeys. Kind of scary that one's own literary and artistic output is now being conserved and collected into a volume. Bet you are going through some intense flash backs!