Wednesday, 17 July 2013

no punks, new wave

over the next few days, I'll update this
entry that's about a book I just finished
called "New York Rocker" by Gary

This guy was the first bassist for Blondie.
I picked up the book in the library discard.
As you can see from my "top of her game"
entry, I am impressed with some of Blondie's
works and Debbie particularly.

Gary was the kind of quietish guy who
sat in the corner, writing in his journal.
But thankfully he did, because we learned
about  a lot of the early days of punk and
how it grew.
I know, you're saying Blondie was not punk.
How true that is. It seems that Gary was
unsure about whether he was in a punk or
a new wave band even though he always said
"punks in ripped clothes,
us in skinny ties"

It was amazing that a guy who played music
and was idolised by kids, could be so pedantic
and boring, and small minded, but he was. Not too much,
but he did complain about stuff a lot.
Gary was a voracious reader, but his writing
was not all that entertaining.

The guy wrote a few songs, in his days with
the Blondies and even had one single as the 
leader of his own band.  I will not link to it
because it's such a saccharine song, it would 
be perfect for K-Tel Kids Kollection. How this
guy thought he was a punk, I'll never know.
I'm sure he was trying to make money, but
that is not punk, either.

He did however, get a chance to be in a punk
group of sorts, after his solo stuff. 
he was in Iggy Pop's band 
for 6 months
\m/ much respect
He got to play old Stooges
toons. wow. tons of groupies too.

Gary started out in Jersey, then ran away from home
at 18, and lived with his starving buddies in a bad 
neighbourhood of Brooklyn. 
Then he chanced upon Debbie Harry and Chris 
Stein, through a mutual friend. Without being
able to play a note, he was taken on as the bassist
because he could play a bit of piano and had 
written some poetry.
How simple things were, back in 1975.

[early song]

[early song. their rockingest. probably a cover]

The band had to live together, sometimes in their 
practice space because they were always broke.
I read the whole process of how they slowly 
came to success as the scene was going wild
with the Ramones, Television, Patti Smith,
Richard Hell, Talking Heads.
And Gary was around the Cali punk scene which
started later. Again, Gary wrote about it, he was not
a punk. He was playing pop nearby, let's say.

We learned a lot about his girlfriends and other
conquests. NY, Cali, tour bus
We learned about his fascination with magic 
and witchcraft (like Chris Stein) that led to him
following a charlatan who had him sitting in 
positions at particular times of the day. Wacko!

A lot of drugs were going around in those days.

In the end, you cannot take the opinion of one 
band member when he complains about how his
friends turned their backs on him. He quit when 
he realised that Debbie and Chris were ready to
kick him out. I figure he's mostly right, but he
doesn't know why he was ousted. Chris and
Debbie manipulated the others into hating Gary.

[Gary absent from this pic, on their first Cali tour.

Debbie was very new wave, and the others indicated
various psychoses]

He did mention how the band signed a bad 
management contract in 1976 that Gary was
all against, but they screamed at him to do it.
In the end he was right, as I'd heard from other
sources that the band had been swindled all
along. Of course they were. They were drugged
up artists and the wolves were circling.

[The wolf. what does the manager do? take 15%, er 25%]

They signed a bad record deal. but the producers
were not stupid and pasted Debbie's boobs front and
Smart move because the rest of the band
looked like evolution, backwards.
[Gary behind The Hair. more about devolution, later]

However, the he-said she-said makes everybody 
seem small. So here's what I think was going on:

Debbie had started in a 60s hippy band 
The Wind in the Willows
I'm serious. If you knew where 
the name came from, you'd think they were insane.
[check Youtube. they were insane]
Debbie was a backup singer with the Stilettos
[also on Youtube. a cultural nightmare
mishmash of cliches]
There, she met Chris Stein, and they both quit to strike out
together.They gathered up a band, thinking that everybody
else was a simpleton employee, so that those 2 could have all
the glory and cash.
That is true, and Gary said it. Even though they got gypped
by managers, Debbie had a  mansion. But the other band
members had a hard crash into reality. Jimmy Destri went
into construction. Chris was supported by Debbie, and Clem,
the drummer, played with Gary on Iggy's show.
Back to poverty for most.

But Gary could write songs so, it seems like Debbie and Chris 
felt that if they were to ever make it, they had to get rid of Gary.
That anger also probably meant that they had to take their
music up a notch, because, until then, Gary was the best 

[OOPs! a cover of a song from the 60s?!]

[a Gary song. Gary on guitar, pogoing. Chris in GREEN]

[a Gary song. Gary's gone. If punk means scrawny, ugly,
weird white guys, then Blondie qualifies. Deb is wow]

Indeed they did step up to the plate. Their three big albums
came in succession after that. I am still so impressed with
aspects of their history, that I commented
how they seemed on top of the world. But then, BOOM,
in 1981, it all disintegrated. Probably stress-related. They
all went a bit nutso. You could tell from the last big Blondie
video, Tide is High.

In reality Debbie was not very confident, even though she
was stunning. Gary had to admit that. But, she and Chris
were a battery and they supported each other. and it worked.
She told everybody Chris was a genius, and Debbie needed
Chris to tell her how lovely she was. So Chris was a genius
because he knew Debbie's beauty, and whatever talent he
saw in her, was his meal ticket.

You will soon understand how nutso Chris was. This guy
was trying to get famous and yet in TWO early videos
he wore a suit.
it wasn't the worst shade of green, but it was green

[Gumby strikes again. Chris in Green. Deb is wow]

the other stuff in the story
-Gary was fond of his pogoing, but the others wanted
to kill him. It wasn't punk pogo cuz he looked like a
suburban high school kid anyway. 
-Debbie acted in Roadie (sh*tty movie) and Cronenberg's
I-Forget. She looked ravishing, but was not an actress
and did not look mentally well.
-Patti Smith hated Blondie and undermined it by getting
band members to quit. In the end, most band members
came to resemble Patti- gaunt, translucent skin, bug-eyed
-They crossed paths with a lot of the artists and non-artists of
the era.

[blank generation documentary. all the early bands, even the NY Dolls!]