i go online in an effort to help connect the dots to what might or might not be the definitive scrap bar story. right now, i’m finding out when the animal boy album was released. i don’t know exactly anything about anything, and this might just be a work of fiction, something i’ll say again and again, though i might not mean it. maybe this is the only scrap bar story. or this is scrap bar through my eyes, the eyes of dreams, drugs and drink, though not necessarily in that order.
every now and then, so as to not harp on it, i will throw in references to drug and alcohol addiction casually, like comfortable shoes.
what was part and parcel of my disco-punk-downtown-village-after hours 1980’s NYC experience was that i existed where this was the culture, period. when scrap bar happened (it happened – it wasn’t part of a plan), it was a furtherance of a path that seemed to be in front of me, sewn together with patches of miracles of big math, luck and timing.
music, art, community.
bands and choirs, it’s all the same. it’s what bars and churches do.
i never recorded a song, but i knew what it was to have a hit and i never, in my wildest dreams, envisioned myself at 116 macdougal street and it dumbfounds me to this day.
i was quite content at the amazing cafe in sunset park, brooklyn with one of the only places at the time playing original rock and roll. the amazing cafe overlooked a sea of grumman buses, at the old army terminal, but that’s another story, one may have already told.
i might be straying from my initial intention here; to talk about a phone call from mary of electric lady studios, the ramones and their “animal boy” cassette.
mary was one of my daytime customers from when i started at the be bop cafe. i worked daytime shifts until i was deemed worthy for the cocaine-driven night shifts.
she called me at around three in the afternoon and asked me how i felt about having an impromptu record-release party.
“when” i asked.
“in about two hours” was her reply.
“yes. the ramones”
“what do i have to do?”
“i don’t know. buy pizza. they like pizza.”
it was late may, maybe june, but it was as hot as a nasty july.
it was very hot. really.
among the things scrap bar didn’t have in our first year of business was air-conditioning.
we did, however, have a really big fan, one of those sweatshop types with metal blades that have a 24-inch-wingspan blades encased in a steel-wire housing that allowed finger-loss if anyone was that drunk or stupid. it stood atop a stainless-steel pole mounted on a round, heavy steel base.
when it was on, it sounded like a small aircraft was parked in here with its engine running.
the ghost of that fan is right under the EXIT sign at the right side of the door. please note the water gate valves used as barstools. there was also a copper church steeple there, too.
i wonder what happened to that?
anyway word of this party spread fast. people started showing after four. by six it was a curious sight as streams of skinny, tattooed, pasty-skinned white kids milled in front of this basement space with the day-glo scrap-metal sculpture and no name, which brought more people. at seven, the place was jam-packed with strains of “bonzo goes to bittburg” running through the space, the fan was moving sweat and cigarette smoke east through the room and out the opened back door and boxes and boxes of pizza were being delivered and set down on slaughterhouse slabs that served as our cocktail tables.
and then everything stopped, just-like-that.
the room stood dark except at the front and rear doorways.
everyone continued to talk until it became apparent that there was a problem. people mobilized, some running down the block to buy candles, others running to a local friend’s apartment to borrow a boombox and grab a load of batteries. we couldn’t figure out the problem, because there was nothing wrong on our breaker panel. did someone call the electrician who had wired-up the place”? i don’t remember. it didn’t matter.
i do remember knowing tap beer didn’t need electricity to flow. i do remember that if it was already a hundred-plus degrees in here, what difference were candles going to make?, and after five minutes of the gently-shifting roar of a hundred-fifty plus people speaking at the same time, the animal boy casette roared back to life courtesy of that borrowed boom box.
at one point, the super came to the door and said it was a “house fuse”, an old-style fuse that was about the size of a can of red bull. he said that half the power was out in the building and he had to find a place that carried these fuses, but it didn’t matter – people already forgot about it.
about forty-five minutes later, the lights came back on and the airplane-fan revved back to life.
there was a collective cheer from the crowd inside.
outside, the sky grew dark. i was feeling real good about things.