Day 20: CBGB Story Gets ‘Complicated’

cbgbIs the press turning against CBGB’s? After a series of fawning profiles of the legendary club’s woes, recently there’s been a wave of stories taking more complex positions. It’s true that Debbie Harry sounded pretty bad at that benefit.

On August 5, Robin Shulman wondered whether you can trust a punk club over 30. (We’ve been wondering whether you can trust one under five. Warsaw, anyone?)

Just yesterday, music critic Jon Pareles posed the question: is it worth keeping CBGB’s alive, despite being a shell of its once radical self?

“The club has been some kind of symbol for decades. The question is whether that symbolism can transcend real estate and real noise. A transplanted CBGB’s would be irrevocably changed, and an artificially preserved one could be just as dicey.”

Indeed, the Bowery does seem to be going the way of St. Mark’s Place, if a little classier. The Real Estate remembers a decade ago when East Village kids loitered outside Coney Island High, instead of Chipotle Mexican Grill. And you walked very briskly down Rivington Street en route to ABC No Rio.

Last week, CBGB’s owner Hilly Kristal won an important legal victory over payment of back rent, though still faces eviction at the end of this month. And the benefit shows featuring reunited, aging punk rockers continue on.

However, with considerably less fanfare, another downtown landmark is soon closing due to rising rents.

In September, the doors will shut on Keith Haring’s Pop Shop; the Soho boutique has been selling the late artist’s works since 1986.

Even if CBGB’s and Pop Shop close, you can still buy the bootleg shirts on St. Marks Place and head down to the Mars Bar for some 80’s New York reminiscing.

– Michael Calderone Day 20: CBGB Story Gets ‘Complicated’