New York, New York… East Village and Alphabet City


Hey everyone!  Hope you all had a very Merry Christmas, and a great break before the New Year.

Waking up to the greeting of a ringing phone was not the way I had wanted to start the morning after a marathon concert.  But our tab had to be paid, the sponsoring radio station 92.1 citi fm,  needed an interview for the morning show back home.   After Darlene gave a brief sleepy account of the night before, exclaiming that Bruce Springsteen was the highlight of the evening.  We got our tired bodies ready for another hurried day on the streets of New York.

As the day before, we shunned the hotel “Hot Breakfast” in favor of  bagel sandwiches from the corner shop.  Gaining familiarity with the streets we confidently picked our subway stop and headed south into Soho, bound for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Annex.  This stop on our trip almost got scratched due to time constraints but I am very glad that we managed to fit it in.  If you are a fan of New York based rock and roll do check it out before it closes early in the new year.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Annex

The museum employs a self guided tour format, high-tech headphones pinpoint the wearers place in the gallery and plays the music and description for what ever you happen to be looking at.

Although there was a large amount of memorabilia dedicated to the New York rock scene 2 exhibits caught my attention in particular.  The first one gave me mixed emotions, behind a roped barricade lay the collected remains of the once fierce CBGB venue.  This once wild club, arguably gave birth to the punk scene in America.  Hosting up and coming bands, and rock legends alike.  Once renowned for its graffiti covered walls and use at your own risk toilet facilities, it lay before me sanitized and dead.

Urinal ripped from the wall of CBGB on display at the Annex

The once living and breathing heartbeat of everything young and wild, scary and socially unacceptable, ripped from the womb and put under glass like a specimen.  A victim of growth and rising property prices in the Bowery.  Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll may live on, but this beacon of everything free lay before me under soft sterile lighting.

The John Lennon Room, moved me as a human being.  His struggle with US Emigration is well documented.  As are many of John’s original writings,  penned while in NYC, the lyrics to what we regard as classics.  Scribbled on pieces of paper annotated with comments.  The musical genius of John Lennon’s process is thoughtfully laid out for all to see.

The exhibit, sponsored by Yoko Ono, is a tribute to her late husband. There is even a telephone on the wall with signage stating ” If this phone rings pick it up, Yoko wants to talk to you.”

The finality of John’s death is brought home by a simple paper bag, written on with marker, from the coroner’s office.  This brown paper vessel contained the effects of one of the most powerful men in the world.

A Beatle, a man of wealth, a man of peace.  His clothing and effects delivered to his widow in a brown paper bag.  I must admit I choked up looking upon that bag.  His great body of work, his passion, his drive.  All summed up by a brown paper bag.  It makes one humble to realize the finality of death.

After a short walk, and another fun-filled taxi ride, we hung out on a street corner on the fringes of alphabet city waiting for our tour guide.  It was a nice afternoon and for such a once feared part of town the locals seemed nice enough.  Soon a small crowd gathered and we met Bobby Pinn owner and tour guide for the Rock Junket walking tour.

The two-hour walk through what once was a crime infested part of town was a Rock and Roll Junkies dream tour.  We started out at Joey Ramone’s apartment conveniently right across from The Continental a once notorious bar.  Along the tour Bobby gives a knowledgeable account of the sites including the Fillmore East, Manitoba’s bar, and the aforementioned CBGB’s.

Bobby Pinn outside of what was the Fillmore East.

Physical Graffiti Building

We  got a chance to stand where Mick Jagger and Keith Richards once filmed the video for “Waiting on a Friend”  the locals seemed oblivious to the fact that they lived in such a famous building.  The building’s façade also graced the cover of Led Zeppelin’s album Physical Graffiti.

On the Steps of the Physical Graffiti Building

The tour wound past Madonna’s first NYC apartment, and the Manhattan branch of the Hells Angels. Through the park where Curt Cobain scored heroin and ended up at 315 Bowery St.  Once the location of CBGB’s, now an upscale gallery and clothing store.

Inside what was CBGB

As anyone who has followed my writings on Catsworking knows I have a love of food, and New York gave me a unique opportunity to try new things.  As it turns out the Rock Junket tour ended scant blocks away from a Lower East Side food landmark,  Katz’s Delicatessen.

Outside Katz's

The sandwiches are remarkable, hand sliced meats warm from the steamers.  Piled high on rye bread, dripping with juice and goodness. The service is simple but efficient. Take a ticket from the door, approach the counter order your food and have the person mark the order on the paper. The cost is tallied on your way out from the tickets you present.

The walls are lined with photos of patrons including one of Anthony Bourdain hidden on a back wall that I came across by chance walking around the joint.

Bourdain's Photo at Katz's Deli

The place was packed for lunch but everyone was real casual, a nice family type of restaurant.  A mix of locals and tourists seemed to enjoy the delicious sandwiches.  Some gawking at the sign where Meg Ryan faked her orgasm in the movie When Harry Met Sally.  Others like me just interested in the history of the place.

Inside Katz's Deli, is that someone famous hiding from my Camera?

Well fed and rested we headed back to the hotel full of rock and roll stories and ready for a nap before night two of the concert.

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2 responses to “New York, New York… East Village and Alphabet City

  1. Bob, I didn’t even know that New York had a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Annex, and now I’m sorry that I’m likely never to see it. The John Lennon exhibit probably would have had me weeping. And the walking tour sound really interesting — although I was never much of a punk devotee. Did like the Ramones, though, and I’m a big Lou Reed fan, from the proto-punk Velvet Underground to present. Hope you tipped the slicers at Katz’s; my mouth is watering, thinking of a corned beef sandwich.

    • Hmmm Adele, something is indeed up with your comments. Like Karen I had to rescue you from the Spam Bin.

      The Annex Museum was amazing, like I said the John Lennon room nearly brought me to tears.
      There was a photo of his bloody glasses that Yoko had taken against the NYC skyline from the Dakota, right next to the bag of his effects. It was too much to bear.

      Well then if you like Lou Reed stay tuned for the next portion of the Concert postings in the days to come!!