CBGB: Decades of Graffiti: By Christopher D. Salyers and John Putnam, 64 pgs. By Dale

Jan 16, 2007

For anyone who ever had the pleasure of checking out the now-gone CBGB down on the Bowery in NYC, this book will surely stir some memories. It’s not a historical book in the literal sense, telling the tale of the place in chronological order, but more of a photographic collection of how the club ended up looking on the inside after weathering thirty-plus years of rock and roll. There’s no late-‘70s black and white photos of bands like Television, Ramones, Blondie, or the Dead Boys getting their start here, but pages of how the actual walls in all the rooms of this dive looked less than a year before it was closed down for good. Music buffs and historians alike will love spending time flipping through this book, gazing upon layers and layers of stickers and graffiti from over the years, almost like an archeological site that’s roped off and about to be excavated. Richard Hell’s intro here is a nice touch, as well, and this book is a great read for anyone who’s even slightly interested what CB’s was about but never had the opportunity to see it in person. Unfortunately, word is that Hilly Krystal (the guy responsible for running this late-‘70s East Coast holy Mecca of punk rock) is stripping anything and everything out of this place to relocate it to some kind of attraction in Las Vegas. What’s he gonna do? Turn that infamous, foul toilet from the bathroom in the basement into a jet-streamed, water-show/fountain to throw coins in? I say save your coins and pick up this book for yourself or loved one. I just hope that whatever Hilly decides to do, it doesn’t involve big, plastic souvenir margarita glasses in the shape of Joey Ramone’s head. I mean, Jesus Christ, the Lower East Side has really been going to hell lately with the “cleaning up and resurfacing” of the neighborhood and all. How many more coffee shops do the NYU buttholes really need? This book is a nice sliver to remember how good some things in that area really were. –Designated Dale (Mark Batty Publisher, 36 W 37th St. Penthouse, New York, NY 10018)