Wednesday, April 27, 2005

NYC: East Side/Downtown

the gruesome winter of 1996, First Ave and 83rd.

The Ramones, 53rd and 3rd.
East River Pipe, Down 42nd Street to the Light.
Rufus Wainwright, 14th Street.
Jake Holmes, Houston Street.
Duke Ellington, Wall Street Wail.

"But at this remove what I think of as
strange and wonderful, strolling the side streets of Manhattan
on an April afternoon, seeing hybrid pear trees in blossom,
a tossing, vertiginous colonnade of foam, up above--
is the white petalfall, the warm snowdrift
of the indigenous wild plum of my childhood.
Nothing stays put. The world is a wheel.
All that we know, that we're
made of, is motion

Amy Clampitt, "Nothing Stays Put."

Snowed under by packing, so nothing but basics today.

"53rd and 3rd," the intersection where Dee Dee Ramone allegedly used to turn tricks to score heroin (it's the first stop in Manhattan for the E and F trains, ideal for the Queens-based junkie), is on the Ramones' first (and best, for me) record, released in 1976. It's saddening, and bewildering, that there is only one surviving original Ramone left.

East River Pipe is a one-man operation run by F.M. Cornog, formerly based in Astoria, Queens (where I also lived at the turn of the century). "Down 42nd Street" is off 1999's The Gasoline Age, which documented Cornog's move from Astoria to New Jersey--a song cycle about New York, New Jersey and driving. More Pipe CDs.

"14th Street," a grandiose pop fantasy that bears little resemblance to the grubby retail strip that is 14th Street today, is off Rufus Wainwright's 2003 record, Want One. Rufus' website--his upcoming tour dates.

Jake Holmes wrote two songs that most people have heard of--one is "Dazed and Confused," which Jimmy Page blatantly stole from him; the other is "Be All that You Can Be," the Army recruitment jingle. "Houston Street" is off Holmes' second record, 1968's A Letter to Catherine December, which appears to be available only via import or iTunes. (Note for non-New Yorkers: it's pronounced How-stun Street. Not, as the British guy I used to work with pronounced it, "hwoo-stone.")

"Wall Street Wail" was recorded on Dec. 10, 1929, six weeks after the great stock market crash, and was issued under "The Jungle Band", an Ellington band pseudonym. It's available on the Complete Brunswick Recordings.

On Friday: The End.

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