Monday, April 27, 2009

Happy Birthday Ace Frehley

Ace Frehley Autographed Photo & Assorted Guitar Picks
(Image via: NYCDreamin Archives)

Happy birthday to the one and only Mr. Ace Frehley who turns 59 today.

Friday, April 24, 2009

A New York Minute: 07/08/92 - 48 Hours (CBS-TV) Tales of Times Square

A very cool "48 Hours" TV special that was just put on Youtube about a month ago. See Dan Rather looking rather youngish. See Times Square Drama. See tourists looking rather bewildered at all that was occurring around them. (including their hotel catching fire at one point!) See stories and images of a Times Square that basically no longer exists.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

New York Dolls Ready for New CD Release & Tour

New York Dolls Stage-Used Guitar Picks (circa 2008)
(Image via: NYCDreamin Archives)

The Dolls are gearing up for the release of their new CD "'Cause I Sez So," to be released May 5th. In case you missed it, Flaming Pablum had news (on 04/07) of the CD release show that will take place at the much-despised John Varvatos Gallery in New York City on May 5th.

US tour dates have been released with more to be announced shortly. Hopefully the next round will include Midwest and East Coast dates!

And the band is the subject of a feature article today (04/23/09) over at
"Cause The New York Dolls Sez So"

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A New York Minute: 04/22/70 - 39 Years Ago Today in New York City - Remembering Earth Day I

"Earth Day I, April 22, 1970 - New York City" (Source: Unknown)

"Earth Day I, April 22, 1970 - New York City" (Source: Unknown)

"Earth Day I, April 22, 1970 - New York City" (Source: Unknown)

"On Earth Day in April the black and white flag of death appeared on Fifth Avenue in New York City. The names and insignia of companies identified as polluters appear on the flag."
(Photo by: Frank Leonard for Pictorial Parade")

One From The Archives: 04/22/97 Kiss/ Outhouse @ St. Paul Civic Center, St. Paul, MN

04/22/97 Kiss @ St. Paul, MN (Ad)
(Images via NYCDreamin Archives)

04/22/97 Kiss @ St. Paul, MN (Ticket)

04/22/97 Kiss @ St. Paul, MN

Skipped work 12 years ago today to attend the first of two Kiss shows in just one week.

04/22/97 Kiss @ St. Paul, MN

This was the second "Lost Cities" leg of the 96-97 Kiss Reunion Tour. I attended this one with an ex-girlfriend and we met some friends from out of town at the show. We arrived early and went over to one of the local t-shirt shops to browse for a while and as we were walking back over to the arena, we met up with some fans who had come down from someplace in Canada. They had a hotel room and asked us if we wanted to come up and have a few drinks. We graciously accepted their offer and were soon a few floors up, enjoying cold beers, looking out the windows watching all the fans gather for the show. It looked to be another sold-out show for Kiss in St. Paul. Opening act Outhouse was some band that had a song on the "Alternative Rock" radio station at the time. of course there were all the "shitty band" jokes being tossed about by the Kiss faithful. I remember being underwhelmed by them and wishing that the Melvins were still the opener as had been the case the previous July when we saw Kiss on their first go-round on this tour.

04/22/97 Kiss @ St. Paul, MN

This show was similar, with the band adding one new effect, Paul Stanley "flew" out over the crowd to drop onto a platform near the soundboard to sing "Love Gun". That was the only major change from the previous outing, the others being more subtle changes in the stage set-up, which was just as spectacular as any Kiss stage ever was, and a few additions and subtractions from the set list. The band seemed to be in good spirits and still seemed to be enjoying playing together again. After the show was over, we could hardly wait until Friday so we could go to Mankato, MN and do it all again.

Click HERE to see a full set of photos from the show taken by an associate of mine.

Updated: 02/01/14 - Video of the complete show!

One From The Archives: 04/21/85 Phil Keaggy @ Tornstrom Auditoruium at Washington Middle School, Brainerd, MN

(Images via: NYCDreamin Archives)

One of the very first concerts I ever attended. I remember being pretty impressed with the whole think and excited at the fact that I wasn't sitting home in my room being bored. I was actually out listening to some live music. I had no idea who this Phil Keaggy guy was, but he played guitar, mom had arranged to take several friends and I and had also agreed to take us for pizza after the show at a place called Rafferty's (it's still there) - so that was good enough for me. And as you can see, I was on the prowl for an autograph even back in those days. The archives were already being amassed.

One From The Archives: 04/21/93 Overkill/ Non Fiction/ End Justice @ Mirage, Minneapolis, MN

(Images via: NYCDreamin Archives)

One of several Overkill shows I attended in the early '90's. This one was at the hallowed Mirage.


One From The Archives: 04/19/99 Slayer/ Sick Of It All/ Meshuggah @ Roy Wilikins Auditorium, St. Paul, MN

(Images via: NYCDreamin Archives)

No particular memories of this show stand out other than it was all-around brutal. Three excellent bands - all at the top of their game.

Friday, April 17, 2009

04/14/09: Bob Gruen Was Here?!? How the HELL Did I Miss This???

04/15/09 Bob Gruen @ St. Paul, MN
(Image: City Pages)

So I missed Bob Gruen. He was here on Wednesday night, in St. Paul, discussing his brilliant career, on the 8th anniversary of the death of Joey Ramone. And I missed it. How? This is how...

I pick up my copy of the free paper City Pages like clockwork every Wednesday or Thursday for years. Many, many years. And has been the case for the past year or two, the place where I pick up my copy does not usually get filled until LATE on Wednesday and sometimes not until Thursday. Well, this Wednesday evening, when I got off work, I went to grab some dinner at the grocery and - as I expected - no City Pages. So I went home, thinking "no big deal, I'll just grab a copy tomorrow." Imagine my shock and horror last evening (Thursday) as I leafed through my copy that Bob had been in town the previous evening. Had my copy of the paper been available to me on Wednesday at a realistic time - I probably would have found out about it in time. Damn the luck!!

I'm a big fan of Bob Gruen's work as his images have been a part of my life since I was just a kid. Of course his Kiss images were just...well, legendary. When I was 8 years old, those images were all over the place - in stores, on newsstands. As close as I was going to get to seeing the band. And Bob's photos were among the best. Then of course as I later came to love all things New York Dolls, there are Bob's amazing Dolls images and the "All Dolled Up" DVD from a year or so ago. And so many more artists that you are probably well aware of. If you do not know Gruen's name, you would know his work. He took photos of everybody, many of the most iconic images in rock and roll history were taken by him. If you've read about rock and roll music al all over the past 35 years, chances are you've seen his images. If you haven't, I wouldn't want to be you.

I was lucky enough to attend his showing LAST SUMMER at the Morrison Hotel Gallery in New York (next to that most unholy of abominations - the John Varvatos - formerly - well, you know what it was..) and it was really great to see so many of the images all blown up to large sizes, framed, with Bob's notes to go along with them. Then there was the cool "Teenager's Bedroom" they set up - it closely resembled my own from that period, all plastered with Kiss photos. It was very accurate, it just didn't smell as bad. I didn't have a spare $600.00 on me that day so I left without making a purchase, but just walking through for almost an hour was a great trip down memory lane and a chance to see some great photos I not previously seen. Then, last fall he released a great New York Dolls photo book that is a must for any New York Rocker. It is the perfect companion piece to the above-mentioned DVD.

So I missed it. And I'm a bit pissed off about would have been so cool. Probably coulda managed an autograph or two and got some photos and maybe got to ask Bob to tell a Joey Ramone Story - I'm sure he has a few. Maybe next time. Dammit...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

8 Years Gone - Remembering Joey Ramone

-New York Times - 04/16/01
Joey Ramone, the singer whose misfit style and guileless shout in the band the Ramones defined punk rock as a music for Everyman, died yesterday at New York Weill Cornell Medical Center. He was 49.

The cause was lymphatic cancer, said Arturo Vega, the band's longtime artistic director. Mr. Ramone had been fighting the disease since 1995.

Born Jeffrey Hyman in Forest Hills, Queens, Mr. Ramone grew up a sensitive outcast in a bohemian family. His mother ran an art gallery, and he explored painting before turning to music. In 1974, he formed the Ramones with three fellow outsiders who went by the names Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy, sharing a fictional last name. Originally the group's drummer, Mr. Ramone took the microphone when the band's songs accelerated to such a pace that he could not keep up.

As a front man, Mr. Ramone was a revelation. Leaning his 6-foot-3 frame slightly backward, strangling the microphone, he delivered songs like ''Blitzkrieg Bop'' and ''Teenage Lobotomy'' in a raw yet perfectly modulated tone, like the world's most unlikely yell king.

''He was a perfect instrument of those songs and those words and that speed and that energy,'' Danny Fields, the manager who got the Ramones their first record contract, said last night. ''He never screamed, never waved his arms around. He stood in one place and delivered. It was so tasteful.''

Tasteful was not the word many associated with the Ramones in their 22-year career, during which the band released 21 albums and played more than 2,200 shows. From the group's early days playing the East Village club CBGB to its final dates, which included a stint as patriarchs of the alternative rock festival Lollapalooza, the Ramones amused and startled audiences with breakneck playing, hilarious lyrics and an artfully primitive approach.

The band's frenetic three-chord songs, with lyrics that equally reflected Mr. Ramone's love of comic books and horror films and his extensive musical knowledge, especially of the girl groups, were elegant enough to become the model for several generations of rockers.

The first album, ''The Ramones,'' released on Sire in April 1976, gave punk its popular identity. That summer, the band played in England and greatly inspired English punks, including the Sex Pistols and the Clash. In 1979, the Ramones made the classic Roger Corman film ''Rock and Roll High School,'' a loving take on the juvenile delinquent films of the 1950's. It extended the Ramones' influence, which encompassed groups like U2, Nirvana and Sleater Kinney.

The group also recorded with the producer Phil Spector, and later Mr. Ramone became close friends and collaborator with Ronnie Spector, his former wife and the singer for the Ronettes, whom Mr. Ramone credited as a main inspiration. Recently he worked as a producer for Ms. Spector and occasionally surfaced to perform with her. In interviews, she called him a natural talent and a perfect artistic match.

To the mainstream, the Ramones seemed outrageous, but their roughneck charm caused a fundamental shift in rock. ''They were the great Johnny Appleseed pioneers of punk rock,'' said Andy Schwartz, the former editor of New York Rocker, which chronicled the scene while it happened. ''They were the first band to leave New York and play anywhere and everywhere in order that this music could get past the barriers of radio and mass media.''

Joey Ramone was the main face of that mission, an ungainly heartthrob in ripped jeans and a leather jacket, proving that a completely unconventional person could be a star. By all accounts a sweet person whose songs were poignant as often as they were shocking, Mr. Ramone was also the band's resident left-leaning bohemian. In 1985 he wrote the Ramones' most political song, ''Bonzo Goes to Bitburg,'' protesting Ronald Reagan's trip to the former death camp.

After the Ramones disbanded, Mr. Ramone kept active in New York, serving as a mentor to young bands like D Generation and occasionally playing with his brother, Mickey Leigh, and others. He also worked on a solo album that remains unreleased.

In addition to his brother, he is survived by his mother.

Mr. Ramone's impact on American music is evident from simply looking at the newsstand. This month, commemorating the 25th anniversary of punk, Mr. Ramone appears on the cover of Spin magazine as a defining face of late-20th-century rock's defining movement.

Correction: April 17, 2001, Tuesday An obituary of the punk rock singer Joey Ramone yesterday referred incorrectly to a site mentioned in a 1985 political song by his band, the Ramones. ''Bonzo Goes to Bitburg'' protested President Ronald Reagan's visit to the German military cemetery at Bitburg; the site is not a former death camp.


Monday, April 13, 2009

No More Donuts For You, Little Girl! The Chaska Bakery Closes Up Shop After Over 100 Years Of Local Business Business

(Photos by: NYCDreamin)
The Chaska Bakery stood here for over 125 years.

A young customer gazes in silent wonder at the goodies in the display case.

A sandwich-board sign announces the impending closing date.

One of the last bags from the bakery. I put it away in the Archives.
On Saturday mornings, I usually get up, get my shit together and head over to the local bakery to grab a few donuts and a juice before I go over to the library. A few weeks ago I was greeted with the sad, sad news that the bakery would be closing for good on April 11th. This is not a bakery that has been open for 20, 30 or even 40 years. It's been on the corner of Chestnut Street for over 130 years. It's not every day you hear a story about a business that hangs in there that long. I was always amazed that they were still around after so many years. Which would explain, as I thought would happen, the fact that on the final day in operation this past Saturday, there were customers lined up as early as 6:45am to get one last loaf of fresh bread or some donuts, cookies or pastries.
I had my usual and sat down to watch as the customers continued to come and line up, and, as they placed their orders, telling the girls behind the counter how much they would miss the bakery. Several people brought along their kids who stood staring at the display case, pointing at their favorites, while pleading with mom or dad, "THIS one! THIS ONE! Pleeeeease!!!," the significance of this particular morning probably lost on them. Several old-timers sat around a table having coffee and conversation as they had been doing for several years. Where will they go now for their morning breakfast and fellowship? Arby's?
I finished my breakfast and left. A few hours later, I went by and there were now people lined up out the door and down the sidewalk waiting to get one last treat before the doors closed forever at 4:00pm. Hours later I was watching the 9:00pm news and the bakery was one of the lead stories, a camera crew and reporter had been dispatched to capture some footage of the final afternoon's business as well as a few tears from long-time customers.
Saturday mornings in Chaska will just not be the same anymore - a lot less sweet.
You can read about the history and the closing of the bakery here:

One From The Archives: 04/11/94 Carcass/ Pitch Shifter/ Necromis @ Mirage, Minneapolis, MN

(Images via NYCDreamin Archives)
We had a few friends come down from northern Minnesota for this show. Carcass was touring in support of their new CD "Heartwork" and said friends and I agreed this was a special CD and would probably be an amazing show so we picked up our tickets and waited impatiently until the day of the show. About mid-day, our friends arrived and we soon headed off to the Mirage. We arrived and promptly began drinking. Heavily. I don't remember much about the first two bands except that I wanted them to hurry up and finish so we could get on with the main event. After Pitch Shifter finished we were quite buzzed on our beers and we went down to the front of the stage to join the pit that was already quite large and violent and promised to become even more so when Carcass came out. As soon as they appeared, the place erupted like no other show I'd seen up to that point. The floor of the Mirage quickly became one huge circle-pit and we were right in the thick of it. We drunkenly bashed our way around with the others, at one point my friend an I locking hands, crossing wrists, and swinging each other ("Cannonballing") into the other moshers, who we knocked to the ground with ease. We meant no harm, we were just having "Way To Much Fun". We would both pay for this the following day. Several days actually. I woke up the next morning with black and blue patches from head to toe. And I was sore. Very sore - all over. Nothing broken, but I had put my body through some serious abuse. Funny how you never feel the pain from a good mosh-pit as it occurs - you only feel it the next day after all the adrenalin wears off and the beer-buzz has turned into an ungodly throbbing headache and your ears are ringing with that high-pitch whine that so often follows a concert of such extreme volume and ferocity. This was the only time I ever saw Carcass and it stands out as one of the most brutal shows I've ever attended, both physically and musically.

One From The Archives: 04/11/93 Testament/ Green Jello/ Pro-Pain @ Mirage, Minneapolis, MN (Updated!)

04/11/93 Testament/ Green Jello/ Pro-Pain @ Mirage, Minneapolis, MN
(Images: NYCDreamin Archives)

04/11/93 Testament/Green Jello/Pro-Pain @ Minneapolis, MN

My memories of this show are brief. I remember being quite impressed with Pro-Pain. Then Green Jello came out and were doing their "thing" when I spied Testament vocalist Chuck Billy a few feet away, so I walked over and said (screamed) hello. I asked him if it was HIS idea to have Green Jello on the bill and he kind of laughed and shrugged his shoulders and continued watching the stage with a bemused smile on his face. I couldn't tell if he was enjoying it or hating it. Soon, but not soon enough, Green Jello finished and after a brief tear-down/set-up, Testament took the stage and delivered an absolutely skull-crushing set that saw them include a Sepultura cover (I forget which song). About midway through the show, Chuck announced it was one of the guys' from Pro-Pain's birthday and he was gonna party a bit, and as they started up the next song, the Pro-Pain dude came out on stage, danced about a bit then hurled himself into the crowd in a perfect dive. He coasted to the rear of the crowd, then momentarily disappeared only to reappear on the stage from the rear to repeat the whole process. He did this maybe a half-dozen times before he finished and was not seen (by us anyway) again. I mostly remember Testament being completely "ON". In all the times that I've been so lucky to see them, and this was but one of many, they've never disappointed - they remain to this day one of the heaviest bands you could possibly see live.

04/11/93 Testament/ Green Jello/ Pro-Pain @ Mirage, Minneapolis, MN

04/11/93 Testament/ Green Jello/ Pro-Pain @ Mirage, Minneapolis, MN

Thursday, April 9, 2009

One From The Archives: 04/10/07 Type O Negative/ Celtic Frost/ Brand New Sin @ First Avenue, Minneapolis, MN

(Images via NYCDreamin Archives)
My Ticket Stub #0000001(!!) and Print Ad

So lucky were we to bear witness again to the mighty Frost for a second time in less than one year. Very unfortunate they had to settle for opening for Type O Negative after having been the headliners the previous fall. But it was one last chance for them to return to America before imploding, again, this time seemingly for good.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

April 2009: Ace Frehley Video Blog #1 - Anomaly Preview

Ace Frehley's debut video blog! Includes some more photos from last weeks "Hard Rock" event at the new Yankees Stadium...and previews of NEW MUSIC coming out later this year.


One From The Archives: 1977 "Girls Who Are Hip Don't Flip for Punks!"

Girls Who Are Hip...(Rolling Stone - 04-07-77)
(Image via NYCDreamin Archives)
Originally appeared in Rolling Stone Magazine - 04/07/77

Monday, April 6, 2009

05/28/49 - 04/06/98 Remembering Wendy O. Williams On The 11th Anniversary Of Her Death

Wendy O. Williams, the leader of the 1980's punk band the Plasmatics, a group more famous for their destructive onstage antics than for their music, died on Monday (04/06/98) at her home in Storrs, Conn., in what officials called a suicide. She was 48.

The cause was a gunshot wound to the head, said a spokeswoman for the state's Chief Medical Examiner, who said that she had committed suicide.

Born in Rochester to an Eastman Kodak chemist and his wife, Ms. Williams got her first taste of fame tap-dancing on the ''Howdy Doody Show'' at age 6 and had her first but not last run-in with the law at age 15 when she was arrested for sunbathing nude. She left high school soon after and hitchhiked to Colorado and later Florida, making money selling crafts and working as a lifeguard. She drifted through Europe, bartending, dancing and getting arrested for shoplifting and passing counterfeit money. In 1976 she landed in Manhattan as a performer at Captain Kink's Sex Fantasy Theater, where she met Rod Swenson, a Yale graduate who ran the sex shows there.

Mr. Swenson became her manager in 1978 and helped her put together the Plasmatics, which made its debut at CBGB's, the punk and New Wave mecca of the time. The group's music was loud, heavy guitar-driven rock, which transformed from noise to heavy metal as the years wore on, all with Ms. Williams singing, rasping and ranting on top.

It was the band's performances, however, that brought it to national attention. Ms. Williams, with a striking blond mohawk and wearing a nurse's uniform, electrical tape or just shaving cream would attack guitars with chainsaws, fire shotguns at amplifiers and destroy television sets with sledgehammers. At one performance, she leapt out of a Cadillac moments before it exploded and plunged into the Hudson River. On Tom Snyder's ''Tomorrow,'' she blew up another automobile, and in videos she leapt from moving cars to airplanes and crashed a school bus into a wall of television sets.

After the release of the first of four Plasmatics albums, ''New Hope for the Wretched,'' on Stiff Records in 1981, Ms. Williams became a First Amendment cause celebre when she was arrested in Milwaukee and later in Cleveland on obscenity charges involving lewd gestures made with a sledgehammer and a microphone. (The charges didn't stick.) In 1985 she was nominated for a Grammy Award for best female rock vocal.

As Plasmatics members drifted into other bands, Ms. Williams recorded solo albums, put together various incarnations of the Plasmatics and starred in film comedies like ''Reform School Girls'' and ''Pucker Up and Bark Like a Dog.'' Despite her image, friends described Ms. Williams as a warm, ascetic and somewhat shy vegetarian who demanded sprouts and tofu backstage, spent 12 hours a week working out and contributed to animal rights causes. Ms. Williams moved with Mr. Swenson to Connecticut in 1991, where she worked with animals.

She is survived by her mother and two sisters.


Saturday, April 4, 2009

One From The Archives: 04/05/87 Stryper/ Hurricane @ St. Paul Civic Center Forum (aka Roy Wilkins Auditorium), St. Paul, MN

04/05/87 Stryper/ Hurricane @ St. Paul Civic Center Forum, St. Paul, MN

04/05/87 Stryper/Hurricane @ St. Paul, MN
(Images via NYCDreamin Archives)

This was the 2nd time I saw Stryper. The tickets were an early birthday gift to me from my mother, and I decided to be nice and ask her to go with me to this show. "Odd," you may think, "not very Rock and Roll going to the show with your mommy." But there was a reason I wanted to go with my mom. A little background...

Mom and my step-dad (both now deceased) were born-again Christians, coming to this lifestyle in the early 1980's. I can't remember what year it was (81, 82, or 83), but they bought a small Christian Bookstore in a small town in mid-central Minnesota at some point early in the decade. Mom stocked a large selection of "Contemporary Christian" music, such as Petra, Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant, the Imperials and many others. As I had been a little headbanging-freak since about age 8, most of this stuff sucked for my money. I did like Petra, but there wasn't much good Christian Rock music going around in the early-mid 80's. It took a few years, but it finally started to appear, thank God. (No pun intended!) The Rez band from Chicago were probably the first to get it right. Stryper, Barren Cross, Saint and Bride all soon followed. There were more, but these were the first.

Mom was also heavily involved at our church as a Youth-Group leader, and as such, she was always trying to suggest good Christian rock music to the kids in the group as an alternative to Motley Crue, Twisted Sister, Ratt, Ozzy Ozbourne and all the other "Satan-Rock" bands that were popular just then. She took groups of us kids to see some of the minor bands of the Christian Rock genre in concert such as Mylon Lefevre and Broken Heart, Captive Free, Bash-n-the Code. We went to Duluth to see Petra a few times, and one time we travelled to Shakopee, MN to the Valley Fair amusement park to see "Weird" Al Yankovic, who was hilarious. I found these shows to be good, but not amazing. I wanted to go to "real" rock shows like Ozzy or the Crue or Kiss.

Fast forward to April 1987. I was about to turn 17, and had had enough of the born-again lifestyle that my mom and step-dad were living - and forcing upon my little brother and I - at least that's how I saw it. I was especially tired of the search-and-destroy missions carried out on my record collection. Mom and I fought constantly over morals, values, hair-length, clothing and most of all music. "That damed Heavy Metal! It'll steal your soul!" After about a year-and-a-half of lots of bad times at home (many of them my own fault, I admit), I decided to move to my dad's house, in a bigger town, in North-Central Minnesota, about 60 miles away. Things remained strained between me and mom even after I moved out. We both tried to get along though, and when my 17th birthday was about to roll around, she called me one afternoon and told me about the Stryper tickets. She said I could go with friends if I wanted. But I told her I'd like to have her go with me.

A few weeks later, I drove down to my mom's, met up with her and we were off to the rock show.

We arrived in St. Paul in the early afternoon, got something to eat and then checked into a Holiday Inn as we didn't plan to return home until the next day. I remember when we got to our room, turning on the TV only to find the Iran-Contra hearings on EVERY channel. Ronald Ray-Gun and Lt. Col. Ollie North - what a couple of fucktards! Anyways...

We went over to the venue and met up with a few of my friends who had made the trip down seperately. My mom knew most of them already and I introduced her to the few she didn't already know. It was not as weird as you might think it would be. All headbangers, true, but mostly good kids. We went in and found our seats. Soon the opener, Hurricane, started their set and it was loud. Much louder than any Petra concert, which was about the loudest thing mom had experienced to that point. I think she had some ear-plugs but I don't remember for sure. She seemed to be enjoying Hurricane, and I was sitting there hoping she could not understand the sexually-charged lyrics. If she did, she said nothing to me. She probably figured she couldn't yell over the band anyway.

After the set-change, Stryper came out and they were great. Very loud as well. Very visual of course. And loud. I remember them being at least as good or better than the time I had seen them previously in Minneapolis. That trip had been chaperoned by a friend of mom's from the local youth community-center.

I think mom was a little overwhelmed by the extreme volume, light-show and occasional smell of pot-smoke that wafted our way, but through it all, she smiled, sang along with a few of the songs she knew, and genuinely seemed to be enjoying herself. I was glad to see it. I KNOW she enjoyed the part where Stryper vocalist Michael Sweet did a little "sermonizing", telling us we should "all give our lives to Jesus" and "rock for the King!" at which point the crowd of about 3,000 cheered enthusiastically. She smiled and cheered right along with the crowd at that. I remember being very impressed with guitarist Oz Fox and drummer Robert Sweet. The dude looked like a chick, but he could fuckin' POUND, an incredible drummer.

The show ended and we went back to the hotel. The next day we drove home and I do not remember having any arguments in the car for the whole trip, which was very unusual. We had a great time, mom and I. She told me several times how much she enjoyed the show and that she could see why so many people enjoyed "going to those things."

We would in fact, attend a few more shows together before she became quite ill in 1991. She had to close up the bookstore and sell it as my step-father had passed away just 6 months after this Stryper concert. Mom never attended another rock concert after 1990. She and I eventually came to terms - I grew up and she grew more tolerant and continued to decline in health. And for the last several years of her life, we never argued about rock music, or much of anything else for that matter. I'd like to think the time we went to this show had something to do with that development.

A New York Minute: August 1984 - Loan-Sharking & Organized Crime at the Hotel Diplomat's Never-Opened "Cowboy Palace"

Hotel Diplomat - New York City (Postcard View)
(Image via NYCDreamin Archives)

I've turned up some great information in an old New York Times article on the "Cowboy Palace", previously mentioned in the monster "Hotel Diplomat" post found HERE.

"Loan-Sharking Inquiry Gives Officials New Insights Into Organized Crime"
by Selwyn Raab
New York Times - 08/17/84

In the autumn of 1982, a wing at the Diplomat Hotel near times square was being remodeled into a discotheque that was to be named the Cowboy Palace. The discotheque never opened, but Federal officials said an undercover investigation that began at the Cowboy Palace led to the smashing of a major organized-crime loan-sharking ring that at it's peak extorted up to $40,000 a week from businessmen in the New York metropolitan area.

Law enforcement officials said the broad investigation provided the Justice Department with new insights about high-level loan-sharking activities and how crime factions in New York and New Jersey cooperate with each other. Federal Bureau of Investigation officials in New York said they were surprised at the large loans purportedly made by the group, including $685,000 to one businessman.

"We were impressed by the magnitude of this operation," said Thomas L. Sheer, who is in charge of the criminal division of the F.B.I.'s New York office, said in an interview. "It shows that organized crime in this region has grown from the traditional concept of giving small loans to poor slobs who are beaten up by the system and need a few hundred bucks to a corporate level of substantial loans to businessmen." The businessmen who sought loans from the company apparently lacked collateral to obtain them from banks or finance comapnies, Mr. Sheer added.

As a result of the inquiry, 16 men were indicted last month in Federal District Court in Manhattan on loan-sharking and racketeering charges. All pleaded not guilty. In addition to eight defendants identified as memebrs of four organized-crime groups, the loan-sharking scheme used a Lake Success, LI finance company, The Resource Capital Group, as a front to funnel almost $2 million into illegal loans, the authorities said.

The conspirators also recruited a religious-school teacher from Great Neck, LI, who says he is a rabbi, to find victims, officials said. The teacher was indicted.

According to the cahrges in an indictment, the ring lent money in 1982 and 1983 to 18 people at usurious rates ranging from 2 to 4 percent a week - or more than 100 percent per year. One borrower was forced to pay $14,000 a week on a loan of $685,000.

"This was a super-Shylock operation," Mr. Sheer of the F.B.I. said. Memebers of the ring, he said, "passed the word along" that loans were available through Resource Capital. The indictment charged that as part of the loan-sharking scheme, borrowers were "lured" into accepting "emergency" or "interim" loans at interest rates of 2 percent a week or more. the borrowers were assured within a few weeks they would be given legitimate financing at lawful rates of interest, the indictment said.

After signing "phony loan agreements", according to the indictment, the borrowers were told by members of the ring that Resource Capital had ties to organized crime. The borrowers were threatened with physical violence or the taking of thier property if they failed to make weekly payments, the indictment said.

A major breakthrough in the case, officials said, occured in late 1982 when an F.B.I. undercover agent posed as an accountant and secretly recorded conversations with suspected members of the ring at the Cowboy Palace while that discotheque was being built. A video camera and evesdropping devices were also concealed in the offices of Resource Capital, and conversations by the defendants were recorded by the F.B.I., investigators said.

An assistant director of the F.B.I., Lee F. Laster, who is the head of the bureau's New York office, said the ring included members from the Gambino, Genovese and Colombo crime groups in New York City and the DeCavalcante group in New Jersey. "When it comes to making money, they'll work together," Mr. Laster said.

According to the United States Attorney's office in Manhattan, the ring illegally obtained about $1.2 million from the pension funds of two unions - Local 808 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in Woodside, Queens, and Teamsters Local 531 in Yonkers - and used the funds for illegal loans. An additional $1 million for illegal loans came mainly from underworld people Federal investigators said.

The secretary-treasurer of Local 531, Joseph Biasucci, was among those indicted. The indictment also contended that the secretary-treasurer of Local 808, John S. Mahoney, received payoffs from the ring, but Mr. Mahoney was not indicted. In an interview, Mr. Mahoney denied getting such payments or gifts. He said that the union had invested $1.1 million with Penvest Inc., a Manhattan company that later went bankrupt, and that Penvest had improperly diverted the pension funds to Resource Capital.

According to F.B.I. officials and court documents, the investigation began in the Autumn of 1982 after the F.B.I. received a tip that underworld figures had lent money to the owner of the Cowboy Palace, Thomas Duke, at an extortionate rate.

Mr. Sheer said the information about loan-shrking stemmed from special investigations that the F.B.I. started in 1982 into each of the five organized-crime groups believed to be operating in the city and it's suburbs.

In court affidavits, the F.B.I. said that in October and November 1982, an agent "worked in an undercover capacity at the Cowboy Palace discotheque" and tape-recorded conversations with "some of the conspirators." The discotheque was then under construction in the Hotel Diplomat at 108 West 43rd Street, near the Avenue of the Americas.

The undercover agent, the affidavits disclosed, learned that Mr. Duke had been beaten for failing to pay his weekly interest, or "vig". A Federal court order was obtained to conceal a closed-circuit television camera and microphones in the offices of Resource Capital at 2001 Marcus Avenue in Lake Success.

In February 1983 the records of Resource Capital were seized under a court order by the United Staes Attorney's office. Mr. Sheer said the records included the identities and the weekly ammounts paid by some of the debtors. The indictment said Mr. Duke had been forced to pay $150,000 in a three-month period in 1982 on a $400,000 loan. Mr. Duke, who does not have a listed telephone number could not be reached for comment.

A rug merchant in Manhattan who was cited in the indictment as a borrower from the loan-sharking operation said in an interview that he had obtained $30,000 from Resource Capital in 1982 but that he considered the money an investment in a business transaction, not a loan. The merchant said he had repaid a total of $38,000 to Resource Capital in cash and checks over three months and had not been threatened.

Rudolph W. Giuliani, the United States Attorney in Manhattan described four of the defendants as "high-ranking members of organized-crime families." He identified them as Vincent J. Rotondo, 53 years old, an organizer in the Local1814 of the International Longshoremen's Association in Brooklyn; Michael J. Franzese, 33, of Uniondale, LI, a movie producer; Benedetto Aloi, 48, an employee of a limousine service in Rego Park, Queens, and Anthony Napoli, 49, of 228 Leonard Street, Brooklyn.

Two principal owners of Resource Capital, Dr. Jesse D. Hyman, 41, a dentist, and Melvin Cooper, 37, were also indicted. Dr. Hyman, who lives in Roslyn Estates, LI, and has a dental clinic in Buffalo, and Mr. Cooper, of 265 East 66th Street were not charcterized by the authorities as members of organized-crime groups. According to the charges, Dr. Hyman and Mr. Cooper "selected the enterprise's victims" and "dictated the terms of the deals." The indictment said that to insure payments and to "keep the enterprise's victims in fear," the victims were warned by members of the ring that Mr. Rotondo was an organized-crime leader.

In a report made public last year, the New Jersey state police listed Mr. Rotondo as a captain in the DeCavalcante crime group in New Jersey. According to the report, Mr. Rotondo "oversees the family's New York operations." Mr. Rotondo's lawyer, James LaRossa said there was "no validity" to the charges against his client.

Dr. Hyman, through his lawyer, Thomas Casey, denied the accusations and said he had cooperated with Federal authorities by turning over financial records. Attempts to reach Mr. Cooper, who has an unlisted telephone number, were unsuccesful. His lawyer failed to return telephone calls.

The religious school teacher who was indicted is Chiam Gerlitz, who teaches at Temple Israel in Great Neck. He was accused of investing an unspecified ammount of money in the loan-sharking scheme, discussing how to collect the illegal interest with other accused conspirators and threatening borrowers who were behind on payments. He was not identified by Federal officials as a member of an organized-crime faction.

Mr. Gerlitz's lawyer, Mark F. Pomerantz, said his client had told him that he had been ordained as a rabbi in Israel. "This is a monumental shock to him," Mr. Pomerantz said. "He is a victim because he invested money with the finance company. He doesn't know most of the co-defendants, and he never threatened anyone."

Besides the Cowboy Palace, other businesses that were cited in the court papers as borrowers were Wings Restaurant at 76 Wooster Street in Manhattan's SoHo section, which went out of business last year; Sylvie's Dress Shop, at 2102 Ralph Avenue in the Flatlands section of Brooklyn, which also has closed; the owners of an apartment building on Amsterdam Avenue in upper Manhattan, and a roofing company in Valley Stream, LI.

In an affidavit, the F.B.I. said that in one of the conversations monitored by hidden microphones in the offices of Resource Capital, Mr. Biasucci, 53, the secretary of Teamsters Local 532, discussed with other defendants how the profuits should be shared. The affidavit said Mr. Biasucci was overheard saying, "They could go to jail if anyone knew what they were doing."

If convicted, each defendant faces a prison term of 20 years.

Friday, April 3, 2009

A New York Minute: April 1955 - Farewell to The El by Peter Spier

The El - NYC, NY - by Peter Spier
Looking East from Third Avenue, the UN Building towers over the El and squalid tenements. Spier sketched building taller than it appeared from his vantage point, to sharpen new-old contrast.

"Farewell to The El"
by Martha Weinman/Illustrations by Peter Spier
Colliers Magazine - 04/15/55
For fully three quarters of a century, Manhattan's famed Third Avenue has not seen the light of day. The street of taverns, tenements and antique shops lies in the constant shadow of a vast steel superstructure called the Third Avenue El, the last of Manhattan's elevated railway lines.
Extending 14 miles from lower Manhattan into the Bronx, the El is an awesomely ugly mass of pillars and rails. But for those who live and work nearby it is a lovable monster, the earth-shaking rumble of it's trains signifying all is well within the dim little world of Third Avenue.
The El has it's charms, too, for a twenty-seven-year-old artist named Peter Spier. Passing under it's massive frame recently, Spier stopped idly to sketch the quaint old station shed which hovers over Third Avenue at 59th Street. A policeman peered over his shoulder. "Catch 'er while you can," he told Spier. "They're ripping 'er down this spring."
Spier checked, found that they are indeed ripping 'er down soon. He began a feverish campaign to capture the El on Paper, from every possible angle, before the wreckers moved in. He drew it from building roofs and street corners, from tenements and pawnshop doorways, and rode it's picturesque course through the Bowery, mid-town, Harlem and the Bronx, sketching the view every mile of the way. The result, more than 100 sketches which may come out in book form this summer, is a whimsical tribute to one of the last bulwarks - inelegant but well-beloved- of old Manhattan.
The El - NYC, NY - by Peter Spier
Artist Spier's first drawing of Third Avenue El captures inelegant charm of a station shed suspended over 59th Street.

The El - NYC, NY - by Peter Spier (04-15-55 Colliers Magazine)0001

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Ace Frehley Among Guests to Attend Hard Rock Cafe Grand Opening at Yankee Stadium on Thursday, 04/02/09


Bernie Williams is going to help open the new Hard Rock Cafe at Yankee Stadium with a celebratory guitar smash on Thursday morning. Williams is expected to perform "Take Me out to the Ball Game."

He will be joined at the 9 a.m. event by Ace Frehley [formerly] of Kiss, Scott Ian and Frank Bello of Anthrax, Anton Figg of the Late Show Band and Darryl "DMC" McDaniels of RUN DMC.

and from Ace

..... this Thursday, April 2nd, the Hard Rock Cafe will open at the New Yankee Stadium, and guess who's showing up?? Ace Frehley!!! This event will feature the SpaceMan from the Bronx backed by Scott Ian, Frank Bello & Anton Fig performing the classic hit "New York Groove". This grand opening is unfortunately closed to the public.... BUT, get all the pics here at