Volume 76, Number 18 | September 20 - 26, 2006

Intra-Continental ballistic sendoff for punk mecca

By Lincoln Anderson

After a 15-year run on Third Ave. near St. Mark’s Pl., Continental celebrated its last night as a punk rock club on Sunday night. Trigger, its owner, plans to convert it into a dive bar, offering acoustic folk music on Sunday nights.

But for Continental’s punk finale, the volume was definitely higher than acoustic. Way, earsplittingly higher.

The final performers included such legendary acts as the Bullys, Lenny Kaye, Handsome Dick Manitoba with most of the Dictators, and C.J. Ramone.

With a black cinderblock décor, Continental was definitely no frills. Yet, while CBGB a few blocks south — which is also closing next month — boasts the more impressive punk pedigree, some think Continental surpassed it in terms of becoming the East Village’s punk mecca.

“It’s terrible. I feel worse about this than CBGB, because this has more punk bands,” said John Holmstrom, editor of Punk magazine. “CBGB is more kid punk. But if the Queers or the Dwarves come to town, they play here. CBGB was going to close for years. But this is like sudden death.”

Danny Nez, the Bullys’ rhythm guitarist, said the club, which had no cover, gave new bands a chance to get started.

“It was always free to get in,” he said. “It was like budget. Continental was punk rock without the bulls—t.”

Dispensing with original material, Kaye — Patti Smith’s guitarist — got the crowd rocking and shouting along to classic rockers “Gloria” and “For Your Love.”

“There’s nothing, nothing, nothing like being in a rock s—t hole like this,” Kaye said wistfully between songs. “I’ve spent a lot of my time in places like this and I hope to keep on doing it.

Throughout the evening, the musicians made references to the neighborhood’s demise and the spread of New York University.

“Can you imagine in 40 years — this will be happening in Bushwick?” Kaye mused, envisioning the end of a future music venue on the current edge of gentrification.

C.J. Ramone, sans Ramones black mop of hair but with a clean-shaven head, blasted through Ramones favorites like “Blitzkrieg Bop” and “Chinese Rock” with Daniel Rey on guitar. As the familiar Ramones songs blared, young punkers in jeans and black T-shirts started diving off ledges into the crowd and surfing on top of the packed sea of punk fans’ hands.

“N.Y.U. just f—ked the whole area up,” Ramone said in between splashing the crowd in front with beer. “No offense to you guys paying a lot of money to go there — but this sucks.”

Trigger joined Ramone on stage on guitar for “I Wanna Be Sedated,” the only song suitable for the occasion, he said.

After the club’s last show ever ended, Trigger said what killed Continental wasn’t just the neighborhood’s change.

“A punk rock club in this neighborhood — so much has moved out to Brooklyn,” he said. But he also added, “There’s not such a strong scene as there was. I used to get 400 demos a week. Now I get five or 10. Kids are into hip-hop and electronica. S--t happens.”

On a tragic endnote, a woman who had reportedly been at the Continental on Sunday night later drove head on into a car on the Saw Mill River Parkway in Dobbs Ferry, killing Emily Cornish, 16, a passenger in her car. The driver, Anne Marie Ciarcia, 46, of Yorktown, was to be charged with vehicular manslaughter. Westchester County police said the women, who were also traveling with Ciarcia’s daughter, may have stopped at a diner near the Saw Mill Parkway and were heading home when the accident occurred.

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