A moment of silence for one of the greats … CBGB founder Hilly Kristal

cbgbMr. K was 75 and died from lung cancer about a year after a dispute with the landlord forced him to close the club which brought us the Ramones, Talking Heads, Blondie, Patti Smith: aka 75% of the music of my adolescence. To my everlasting regret despite living in New York from ’81 to ’85 I never got to the club. At least I made it to Max’s Kansas City before it closed. And to kill whatever chance I might have had of actually having any cool cred let me say that I made it to Max’s for lunch. Yeah, I’m hardcore.

FYI: The complete name was CBGB & OMFUG which stood for Country, Bluegrass and Blues & Other Music For Uplifting Gourmandisers.


Time to go back to Graceland

There’s a sentence I didn’t expect to write. But there’s a new show at G’land that features a TV Elvis shot when he got angry. How can you not respect someone who does that?

The show, Elvis After Dark, also has a “jukebox, wrapped in yellow and green neon, that provided him with a steady supply of popular music. There are film clips that show family and friends discussing late-night excursions to an amusement park or his favorite movie theater, which he would rent for the night.” Nothing about taking pictures of co-eds wrestling in their underwear, though.

I am a fan, despite the fact that after “The Sun Sessions” anything good he recorded felt like a fluke.
Last time I was in Memphis, the previous Bush was still in office. I went to Graceland and had my own little epiphany — I found out what William Carlos Williams meant when he wrote, “The pure products of America/go crazy.” It’s a combination extravagance and humility unlike I’d ever seen before. Maybe call it unaffected affectation. The tour guides make a big point of telling you that the chandelier is “cut Italian glass.” It’s not crystal, it’s cut glass and he wanted to make damn sure everyone knew it. Maybe it’s just plain old honest, un-ironic kitsch. Shag carpet on the ceilings. I think it was Twain who wrote that you learn something holding a cat by the tail that you can’t learn anyway else. Graceland’s the same way. I’ll admit it, I cried at his grave — not because of who he became but who he wanted to be. And the inscription reminded me that he wasn’t just The Icon but someone’s son:

He became a living legend in his own time, Earning the respect and love of millions.

God saw that he needed some rest and called him home to be with him.

We miss you, Son and Daddy. I thank God that he gave us you as our son.

To be honest, that, some ribs and Sun Studios were about as good as Memphis got. Me and the future Mrs. Collateral Damage went together and I stopped at a gun show — I’d never been to one and figured I’d check it out — there was a LOT of paraphernalia from a former German regime, if you know what I mean. They had the Reich stuff. That was my general vibe of the city. Shortly thereafter we left in a move that is now known as leaving under cover of daylight. We stopped over at Vicksburg, which is about equidistant between Memphis and New Orleans. I bought a reproduction of a civil war map of V’burg and it served just as well as a modern counterpart for getting around town. God, I was glad to get to New Orleans.