53rd and 3rd @ 12:37 am
Before I start tonight’s After Dark episode, I really want to thank everyone who stopped by and those of you that left comments. It was really a nice way to start this blog. I hope you continue to enjoy it. I got a couple shout-outs yesterday, EV Grieve and the Neighborhoodr both put links to MAD and I thank them and everyone else who’s helped to spread the word. Speaking of the Neighborhooder, Matt Rosen who runs and curates that East Village blog also helps Ray from yesterday’s post with his online presence and asked if I would put up a few links for people to check out. And I’m happy to do so. If you enjoyed yesterday’s post and would like a memento from Ray’s Candy Store in the East Village, you can get one from: The Official Ray's Candy Store Clothing & Accessories Shop on CafePress. All the profits from sales in the store go to Ray’s and will help keep him in business. You can also follow Ray’s Candy Store on Twitter, just click the link right here: Ray’s Candy Store on Twitter. Okay, now on to tonight’s destination.
Certain circumstances happen in your life as you get older and it can change your whole perspective about something. The Ramones first album did that for me, it completely changed the way I listened and heard music.
It came out when I was a senior in high school. And I had just turned eighteen-years-old, the perfect age for an introduction to all things Ramone. I remember I had read a review of their first album, probably in Rolling Stone or Creem magazine, my two bibles at the time and if I remember correctly, the review said something like they sounded like the Beach Boys cranked up to the gills on speed. Well, I liked the Beach Boys and I loved speed back then, so I was sold. Then I looked closer at the album cover that was printed with the review. This band looked like a combination of back-alley street thugs and four guys who’ve just been sprung out of the looney-toon bin. They had long dishbowl haircuts, black leather motorcycle jackets, ripped up and falling apart jeans and tennis shoes. And the tallest one had a certain Lurch-like quality to him. They didn’t look like any other band I’d ever seen.
I immediately ran downstairs and asked my mom if I could use her car to drive over to the record store. She said okay so I zoomed to the store, found the album, bought it and raced back up to my room. I peeled off the shrinkwrap and breathed in that new album smell that I loved. I put the album on and about 23 seconds into “Blitzkrieg Bop” my mouth was hanging wide open. I had never heard anything like this in my fucking life. The songs were fast and short and the music had a rat-a-tat-tat quality that was really catchy. While it definitely was a unique, new and original sound, there was something vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Finally, after about ten spins on my turntable it hit me: It sounded a little bit like vintage ‘60’s/70’s bubblegum music. And I love ‘60’s/70’s bubblegum music. Of course once I turned 15 or 16 I pretended to hate it because it wasn’t cool to like it, but I always have had a love for that genre of music and I still do. I also liked hard rock and garage rock and this was like a marriage of the three. This thinking was confirmed when I read the book, “Please Kill Me,” and Joey Ramone is quoted as saying that the Ramones’ goal was to be as good as the Bay City Rollers.
The other thing that was great and different about this album was the lyrics. They were different and they were funny. Some of the subject matter included Nazi’s, sniffing glue, being afraid to go down to the basement and one song called, “Beat on the Brat," which had the lyric, “Beat on the brat with a baseball bat.” It was like the equivalent of a musical dead baby joke! I loved it and that album turned me on to punk rock and really changed the way I thought about music. Let’s just say I filed my Emerson Lake and Palmer albums away and never listened to them again.
One of the songs from the album I didn’t really understand at the time and the name of it was “53rd and 3rd.” I got the Vietnam reference in it and that the character in the song kills somebody with a razor blade but I didn’t really get what it was all about. Years later I read that Dee Dee Ramone wrote it and it was about a section of Manhattan called the loop, where young male prostitutes also known as chicken hawks hung out trying to turn tricks for cash. This area was the corner of 53rd and 3rd. I don’t think Dee Dee ever admitted it, but it’s been widely reported that back in the day he would prostitute himself out for drug money and that the tune was semi-autobiographical.
I was listening to the song the other day and realized that I’ve lived here for close to 18 years now and I can’t ever recall being at the corner of 53rd and 3rd. So I thought it would be a fun after dark journey to walk there after work and see what’s happening over at the corner of 53rd and 3rd these days. So...hey, ho, let’s go!
And here we go, off into the night. I'm going to take pictures along the way because sometimes the journey is just as much fun as the destination.
O'Reilly's Pub, memories from a blog gone by! Hard to believe that was over a year ago. Time flies when you go to 365 bars in 365 days.
This one's for you Gidget. (Inside joke.)
Become your future you...well, I just got a mental picture of me at 85-years-old in an adult diaper, so thanks, but I think I'll just stick to the regular aging process.
Wow, it's really deserted out, I can't wait for the weather to get nice, this is a little creepy walking around New York when the main streets are empty. It looks like a parade of zombies could appear at any moment.
Porn star name on a luggage store alert!
I don't know what's multiplying faster in New York, bedbugs or these 99 cent/$1.00 shitty pizza joints.
And here we are! The infamous corner of 53rd and 3rd! I brought along a picture of the Ramones and I thought I'd get some characters hanging around the block to pose with it on this corner. Let's go find some people.
Hmm, nobody over here...
Just a lot of cars and traffic over here...
Got nothing on that corner...
There's Duane Reade, but he doesn't have any arms to hold the picture, so that would be a little awkward. That's the danger of doing something like this, sometimes nature works against you and you have to improvise. Let's keep looking.
Hey, hey, hey...what's this behind me? It's a late-night Halal food cart, you know somebody's in there, let's go check it out.
And sure enough, I found this nice gentlemen setting up his cart. His name is Abraham. Let's see if he'll pose with the photo.
Abraham said he knew of the Ramones and would be happy to pose with the picture, but shit, that light got in the way...time for take two...
This one's a little better, but it's a little too far away. As you can see from the look on Abraham's face, sometimes it's a little painful to work with me.
And there we go, a winning shot to close the night on. Abraham is at this corner every night and he works all through the night to the morning, so when you're close by 53rd and 3rd, stop by his cart and get a bite to eat. Alright, from Abraham, Martin and the ghost of the Johns on 53rd and 3rd, goodnight everybody and see you tomorrow after dark!
Bonus Jaws Art!
MAD commenter Jaws sent in this welcome back art to mark the start of this blog. Very nice, Jaws, thanks buddy! If you’d like to wear some of Jaws’ art, check out his online store here: Jaws The Cabbie Store.