NYC, 1977

Via Caitlin comes this link to a great essay by Anthony Bourdain about what it was like to live in New York City in 1977. I really like how he is working at deromanticizing the punk era with statements like this:

The irradiated spawn of tormented loners who had grown up listening to the Stooges and the Velvets, wannabe poets, failed romantics — anyone with enough enthusiasm or anger to pick up a guitar, it seemed, converged on the only place that would have them.

I’m really liking Bourdain lately. His Without Reservations show is good, but above and beyond that:

  • His show used a Gentle Readers song as the background when they were at the Bada Bing.
  • He had Harvey Pekar on a recent episode.
  • He pointed out the sanctimonious fullness of shit of Sting in an episode from Peru. His point was that when Sting wants to preserve the way of life of indigenous people in the rain forest, he is asking them to stay in a brutally difficult lifestyle, working 14 hours every day of their life to survive in poverty. Bourdain pointed out that you might not be doing those people a favor and maybe it’s time for that traditional way of life to end.

All in all, I think Bourdain has got it going on.

3 Replies to “NYC, 1977”

  1. Good point-just read article. I so identify with Bourdain on many angles-similar time frame,locale,etc. This article rings true for feelings that I gather from his work. I often think of the Ramones,”Carbona Not Glue” when I watch him. This piece seemed to channel Hunter S. Thompson if not in style certainly in tone. Fear and Loathing in CBGB’s perhaps?

  2. Actually indigenous people tend to have high amounts of leisure time. It’s not as hard as you think. They tend to yield a high amount of productivity per hour of labor (literally gathering low hanging fruit). Which is why they have trouble adjusting to industrial changes.

    But of course, you’re right and Sting is a moron. From what I recall he nicknamed himself.

  3. Mark, there is a little ring of HST there. I agree. I sometimes fall into the trap of romanticizing punk but really in its true original form it was the music of desperation, a cry out in the only real way people had to scream in a way to be heard.

    Ryan, On the show he said that, it was specifically in the context of people who did this farming (don’t remember what crop) that they ground up and made a paste of and then sold for not much. They basically worked sun up to sundown every day in order to barely subsist. That wasn’t about a tendency, it was about specific people with very hard lives.

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