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


On seeing my first, and probably last, show at CBGB

By Lori Haught

Ever since I was a punk 13-year-old growing up in the tiny little town of Williamstown, W. Va., on the border of Ohio (I tend to claim Ohio before West Virginia when anyone asks), I have had a dream. It was a dream that I was able to accomplish last Sunday.

I went to CBGB before it closed.

I walked in and felt in awe. I examined each and every sticker and poster, paint splatter and crevice. I tried to imagine a time when you could see the walls, but couldn’t quite manage it. I watched the local bands play, wondering if they were as thrilled as they should have been to be playing on that stage. I imagined they were the Ramones or the Sex Pistols. I wished I had been there to see them.

Since I made my maiden visit to New York City at the ripe age of 15, I have wanted to live and work here.

Part of the reason I loved the city was because you could be anyone. It was as normal to see a kid walking down Fifth Ave. in full-out grunge as it was to see a rich businesswoman in heels and a suit costing over a grand. The city also had a rich history and culture so tangible that you could taste it in the air and feel it in every fiber of your being.

Not to say that it doesn’t anymore, but something is changing.

People are saying that bohemia is dying, and I tend to agree.

Closing places like the Continental and CBGB hurts my soul. Each mark on the walls is a piece of history. The word is that Hilly Kristal, the club’s owner, will preserve those walls that he can and include them when he reopens CBGB, not in New York, but in Las Vegas.

My friend said it best: “This building is a relic, a landmark; I pity whoever moves in here.” I pity them too, because it will take a good 20 years before that building isn’t known as the former home of famed rock club CBGB. It will never be known as anything else to people in the music scene.

New York is changing. Rent is going up and swanky restaurants and clubs are moving in. Fairly soon, you won’t see grunge, only $1,000 suits.

Maybe that’s what New Yorkers want, but I can’t see how.

The culture that the city prides itself on is slowly being forced out. New Yorkers don’t make the city; the city makes New Yorkers.

Ecstatic is an understatement when it comes to how I feel to be living here right now. I got in under the cuff, I saw a show at CBGB; I lived alongside artists and people of all backgrounds and income levels; I saw the city live and I’m watching it die.

New York is a phoenix, it lives, it dies and it rises from ash to live again. It is a living, breathing entity that carries us along with it. By closing such staples in not only our culture, but also the culture of America as a whole, we are, inevitably, destroying ourselves.

The next punk kid to come out of Middle America will not even have the chance to dream.

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