Hilly Kristal, founder of CBGB's, died this week of lung cancer at age 75. First CBGB's gets shut down, then Hilly dies, sheesh I feel old.
I went to CBGB's once about 23 years ago during my one and only visit to New York City. The friend I was travelling with hated punk music and didn't really want to go but it was the only place in NY I really really wanted to go to during our visit so he sucked it up and humored me (and somehow is still speaking to me). We took the subway to the Bowery late on Saturday night and when I asked the train conductor which stop I needed to get off at he looked at me in disbelief and said, 'Oh, you don't want to get off there'. My friend was not reassured by this. Nor was he feeling any better about things when we were greeted off the subway by enormous cat sized rats who were rustling about in full view, not the least bit worried by our presence. CB's was a dump, the sound was atrocious and the band, The Raunch Hands, was worse. I made the dorky tourist mistake of going on a Saturday night when in fact all the good punk bands played matinees on Sunday afternoons. My friend still leverages that experience to this day (I went with you to CBGB's, the least you can do is.......). Despite it all I'm glad I went and had the opportunity to experience a slice of history. And it was hands down the highlight of my trip to NYC.