Monday, November 12, 2018

'Nuff Said!

Stan Lee
Rest In Peace

"I used to be embarrassed because I was just a comic-book writer while other people were building bridges or going on to medical careers. And then I began to realize: entertainment is one of the most important things in people's lives. Without it they might go off the deep end. I feel that if you're able to entertain people, you're doing a good thing."

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Freedom To Criticize And Oppose

"Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost."

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Gotta Break Free

"Right here, all by myself. I ain't got no one else.
The situation is bleeding me, there's no relief for a person like me."

My entry to punk-rock, hardcore, and "underground music" was via Reagan Youth, MDC, the Misfits, and D.O.A.: A Right Of Passage documentary, but Black Flag was the real game-changer. It's hard to put into words how important the band was to me (and still is), but I know I could not have dealt with the long and depressing train-ride to high school every morning without Black Flag, along with taped copies of Kool DJ Red Alert's Kiss-FM radio show, blasting at an ear-splitting volume on my walkman.

Photograph by Lee Greenfeld © 2018

Thursday, November 1, 2018

A Visit

"We have art in order not to die of the truth."

In awe at the studio of legendary painter Larry Poons. (Poons also played guitar in '60s avant garde band The Druids along with La Monte Young, Jasper Johns, and occasionally Andy Warhol.)

Photograph by Lee Greenfeld © 2018

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Times Like These

Todd "Youth" Schofield
Rest In Peace

From the relatively small New York Hardcore scene and the A7 club to playing on The Tonight Show with the legendary Glen Campbell, Todd Youth had quite a spectacular musical journey.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Silence = Culpability

"I remember he asked his father, 'Can this be true? This is the twentieth century, not the Middle Ages. Who would allow such crimes to be commited? How could the world remain silent?' And now the boy is turning to me. 'Tell me," he asks, 'what have you done with my future, what have you done with your life?' And I tell him that I have tried. That I have tried to keep memory alive, that I have tried to fight those who would forget. Because if we forget we are guilty, we are accomplices. And then I explain to him how naive we were, that the world did know and remained silent. And that is why I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation."

Friday, October 26, 2018

Just To Get Away

Currently not digging: baseless and ridiculous conspiracy theories, REBNY, loud-talkers (particularly Wall Street types brokering deals on their cell-phones), and as always, the MTA.

Currently digging: a nice glass of Vermentino after a long-ass day of work, the inspiring writing of Rosa Luxemburg, the genius sounds of Thelonious Monk, attempting to live healthy, and the new monumental reissue of Feel The Darkness.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Psychotic Reactions

"The first mistake of art is to assume that it's serious."

Words by Lester Bangs
Photograph by Lee Greenfeld © 2018

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Friday, October 5, 2018

Amazing Journey

Was there a better group dynamic from a rock band at this point in history? I doubt it. Next-level stuff right here, which is quite possibly even better than the Live At Leeds show. The second Bill Graham finishes his intro, the band come out intent on nothing but total rock-action. The version of "Heaven And Hell" is surely one of the greatest documented first songs of a rock set. Stunning!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Built For Sound

The Brooklyn Paramount (“America’s First Theater Built For Sound”) helped bring jazz to Brooklyn with artists like Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis playing the theater. In 1943 singer Leo Fuld introduced Yiddish music on the stage, and in the 1950s Alan Freed’s legendary rock‘n’roll shows kicked off with acts including Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, and Buddy Holly. Others that graced the stage: Ray Charles, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Bobby Rydell, Brenda Lee, Johnny Burnett, Dion, Bo Diddley, Chubby Checker, the Drifters, Coasters, and Little Anthony & The Imperials! The final live rock'n'roll stage show was with Jackie Wilson and an all-star cast but sadly the theatre was shuttered shortly afterwards and now stands as part of Long Island University.

Photograph and text via Brooklyneeze

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

You And Your Folks, Me And My Folks

I was in funky little ice cream parlor staffed by an old school high school basketball team (a la The White Shadow), and owned by the X-Men crew. The walls were covered in framed tags and Funkadelic was blasting on the stereo at an insane volume. I debated getting some ice-cream for a while with an unknown friend and finally settled on a small cup of coffee-mocha. As I left I realized they had given me what seemed like a gallon's worth of the stuff, and it kept changing colors. When I finally scooped out a bite, it had no flavor; utterly without taste and kind of like eating thick air. I took the tub to the beach, sat in the rain, and began planning my trip to Algeria.

Friday, September 21, 2018

It's A Shame

Joseph "JoJo" Hoo Kim
Rest In Peace

Joseph "Jo Jo" Hoo Kim was one of the most important Jamaican record producers of the '70s, developing a tough, militant roots reggae style known as the "rockers" sound. As the head of the Channel One studio and label family, Hoo Kim and his three brothers worked with many of the top reggae artists of the '70s, especially dominating the Jamaican charts in the latter half of the decade. Their house band, the Revolutionaries, spun off the legendary rhythm section of Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare, and their productions set new standards for high-tech sound quality in Jamaica.

Joseph Hoo Kim was born to Chinese and Chinese-Jewish parents and grew up in the rough Maxfield Park area of Kingston. His family owned a bar and an ice cream parlor in the area, and he and his three brothers -- Ernest, Paul, and Kenneth — initially went into business for themselves in the gambling industry, as slot machine operators. But when the Jamaican government outlawed gambling, JoJo turned to his new love, reggae music. He bought a top-quality four-track recording console and opened the Channel One studio in 1972, with Bunny Lee and Syd Bucknor serving as its first producer/engineer combination. Eventually those slots would be filled by JoJo and his brother Ernest, respectively, as well as a series of other talented up-and-comers. The studio's first year was a rocky one, as Hoo Kim struggled to perfect the technical aspects of the recording process, but soon the backing band -- dubbed the Revolutionaries — started to fall into place with the arrival of drummer Sly Dunbar in early 1973. (Other personnel would include bassist Robbie Shakespeare, keyboardist Ansel Collins, and veteran saxophonist Tommy McCook, among many others.)

Over the next few years, Channel One built a name for itself as one of Jamaica's best studios, thanks to its state-of-the-art equipment and top-notch house band. Its early records were often by veteran artists like Delroy Wilson, Leroy Smart, Junior Byles, and Horace Andy. However, Hoo Kim gradually built a stable of fresh talent that culminated in the 1976 release of the Mighty Diamonds' smash "Right Time," which gave Channel One the commercial breakthrough it had been seeking. Channel One productions dominated the Jamaican charts for the next several years, with major hits by the likes of Dr. Alimantado, Black Uhuru, the Meditations, and the Wailing Souls, and DJs like Dillinger, I-Roy, Trinity, and Ranking Trevor. Many of Hoo Kim's productions borrowed established instrumental rhythms from Clement "Coxsone" Dodd's Studio One catalog, an approach that laid the groundwork for much of the early dancehall sound. Hoo Kim also pioneered the 12" single format in Jamaica, offering vocal, DJ, and dub versions of the same song on a record that offered better sound quality.

In 1977, Hoo Kim's brother Paul was shot to death in a robbery, leaving JoJo badly shaken. Although the studio continued to run smoothly, he left Jamaica and its increasing violence and went to New York to gather himself. He wound up more or less settling there, but returned to Channel One on a monthly basis to oversee its operations. By this time, Sly & Robbie had split from the Revolutionaries to form their own label and production partnership, and continued to book time at the studio. During the early '80s, Channel One positioned itself at the forefront of the dancehall explosion, as hot new producer Henry "Junjo" Lawes and his new house band, the Roots Radics, came to the studio and built on its previous Coxsone Dodd worship. Artists like Barrington Levy, Frankie Paul, and Sugar Minott all found breakout success through Lawes and Channel One.  

Hoo Kim, meanwhile, gradually began to move his family's other music-related ventures to New York; he opened a division of Channel One there, and relocated the record pressing plant operation to Brooklyn. He came up with the idea for the so-called "clash" album, mimicking live DJ competitions by devoting separate sides of an LP to separate artists; the concept became hugely popular in Jamaica during the early '80s. Even so, Hoo Kim was gradually losing interest in the reggae business. When dancehall mutated into the all-digital ragga style in the mid-'80s, he and his brothers largely gave up Channel One, and the studio and their labels were shut down by the end of the decade. Hoo Kim stayed in New York and retained control of the record pressing plant.

Text by Steve Huey/AllMusic

Friday, September 14, 2018

Outside Society

John Wilcock
Rest In Peace 

"I have no regrets about the path I took, which helped to backstop and record the youth revolution — maybe the first time in history that teenagers actually had power."

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Make A Change

"One of the best-kept secrets in American politics is that the two-party system has long been brain dead — kept alive by support systems like state electoral laws that protect the established parties from rivals and by federal subsidies and so-called campaign reform. The two-party system would collapse in an instant if the tubes were pulled and the IVs were cut."

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Into This Neutral Air

Every year I try to avoid listening to the 'reading of the names,' and yet I always find myself hypnotized by the words of my beloved neighbors, unable to pry myself away from the echo of loss. There is no closure and there never will be. Our sky remains broken.

Photograph by Lee Greenfeld © 2018

Monday, September 10, 2018

Just Coolin'

There really aren't many bands better live than Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers, circa 1959... Talk about firing on all cylinders!

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Ask Me What I Am

"I'm gonna pull the chain on you, pal. And you wanna know why?
'Cause you're fucking up my city. 'Cause you're walking all over people like you own them.
And you wanna know the worst part? You're from out of state."

My fondest Burt Reynolds memory is when my great aunt took me to see Sharky's Machine in the theater. I was definitely way too young for the film, but loved it to pieces. She was aghast by the language and violence. Fare thee well Burt, thanks for the memories.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Nays And Yays

Things I currently don't dig: The uproar over an endorsement (for an overpriced product manufactured in sweatshops), shaming people for an honest day's work, attacks on the free press, Democracy in shambles, humidity, West Ham's abysmal start of the season, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and my achey big toe.

Things I am currently digging: the lost Coltrane album Both Directions At Once (still on constant rotation), my family and friends, quinoa, the poetry and essays of Victor Serge, my dogs, my recent record scores, being (temporarily) sober, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Take A Little Walk With Me

I’d grab the subway at Dekalb and take the long ride to Brighton Beach — one of my favorite trips in the city, with all its slow turns and views of scarred rooftops and weather-worn store-top signage. After I'd exit the train, I'd troop over to my grandparents' street for the barrage of you-got-so-big's and cheek-pinches via all the lovable yentas from the building parked out front. (I can still picture my grandma's tough smile when she'd see me, and perfectly recall the unique smell of the lobby of her building and the creaky ancient elevator up to the 6th floor.) The beach chairs were usually lined-up all the way down the block, each building with its own unique crew. One of my favorite characters was a very zaftig Russian woman whose name is lost with time. Her sons were supposedly gangsters and she sold blackmarket caviar from a cooler under her chair. She never smiled, and when she died she was buried in a piano box.

Words and photograph by Lee Greenfeld © 2018

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Backyard Trance

“We’re so caught up in our everyday lives that events of the past are no longer in orbit around our minds. There are just too many things we have to think about everyday, too many new things we have to learn. But still, no matter how much time passes, no matter what takes place in the interim, there are some things we can never assign to oblivion, memories we can never rub away. They remain with us forever, like a touchstone.”

Photograph by Lee Greenfeld © 2018
Words by Haruki Murakami from Kafka On The Shore, 2002

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Jane's Lament

There's a new breed of city-dwelling squirrel monkey that is able to slip through cracks in walls and open windows. They end up in people's homes, where they mount the chins of their sleeping victims and slowly poke at their faces with X-Acto knives, all while making a strange laugh-like noise.

Friday, August 17, 2018

The Real Thing

Aretha Franklin's passing yesterday sent me into a music-obsessive frenzy, ending up focusing on her underrated Columbia sides. As I was listening to her take on the oft-covered "(It Will Have to Do) Until The Real Thing Comes Along," I realized it was one of the rare times I think she was bested on a song. That's not to say her version isn't stellar; it is, it's just that Judy Henske's take sends chills down my spine, and I prefer it to classic and stunning versions by the likes of Billie Holiday, the Ink Spots, Nat King Cole, Dean Martin, Aretha, etc. Henske's work-up is the perfect synthesis of Holiday and Fats Waller's adaptations, with an extra helping of sass, a hint of 1960s abandon, and total raw fucking power.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Learn The Tale Of Our Tribe

"New York is best seen with innocent eyes. It doesn't matter if you are younger or old. Reading our rich history makes the experience more layered, but it is not a substitute for walking the streets themselves. For old-timer or newcomer, it is essential to absorb the city as it is now in order to shape your own nostalgias."

Photograph by Lee Greenfeld © 2018
Words by Pete Hamill from Downtown, 2004

Saturday, August 4, 2018

You'd Never Be As Lonely As Me

There was an elderly guy sitting at the bar tonight talking to anyone and everyone who sat near him. He was buzzed but not overly drunk, and nice enough albeit slightly annoying. A couple sits down and humors him for a while, and then gently asks if they can get back to their own conversation. He says “okay,” sits quietly for about five minutes and then tells them that he is “the loneliest person in the world,” adding after a pause “and I live in Brooklyn.”