Monday, March 07, 2005

Good Bye Eloise and CBGB's

Smartmom thinks that Manhattan is really going down the tubes. It's impossible to live there unless you're rich, in a rent stabilized apartment, or someone who bought years and years ago.

Even Eloise can't live there anymore. Starting April 30th when The Plaza Hotel begins its transformation into condos, a mall and a small boutique hotel, Eloise will be just another unemployed children's book character. Maybe she should move out to Brooklyn.

Full Disclosure: Smartmom and Hepcat spent their wedding night at the Plaza. Many of their friends from the wedding followed them to the hotel and the group partied till the early morning hours. Someone even ordered (and paid for) champagne from room service. Oooh la la. The newlyweds would have spent two nights at the Plaza if anyone had told them that the room was booked and paid for in advance. They dutifully checked out at check-out time and returned to their funky apartment in Alphabet City for their second official night as a married couple.

Sure, Manhattan still has lots to recommend it: stellar institutions like the Guggenheim, the Met, the Rainbow Room, MOMA, the Metropolitan Opera and now Jazz at Lincoln Center. But that's not enough to make a city interesting. A city needs its landmarks (official and unofficial) and its historical places to give it that well-worn feeling of texture and depth.

It also needs its low rent stomping grounds for musicians; its funky downtown theaters for actors and directors; its hole-in-the-wall screening rooms for avant garde film.

Recently Smartmom learned that CBGB's "the home of underground rock since 1973" may soon be closing its doors. So many legends of 1970's punk rock have graced its dilapidated stage: Television, Talking Heads, the Ramones, Patti Smith, Blondie to name a few. The New York Press writes, "As the Bowery becomes increasingly unappealing for anyone who's lived here more than six months—with model bars and restaurants few of us can afford—CBGB's monthly rent, it's claimed, could hit $40,000 when their lease expires this August."

Tonic, another downtown hot bed of alternative music, has already initiated a fundraising campaign on their website to try and keep ahead of their steadily increasing rent. Yoko Ono and others are already lining up to perform benefit concerts.

And finally, the Fez, the music club in the basement of the Time Cafe, which presents the Loser's Lounge and other great New York acts, is also set to close down due to rising costs.

So what gives when the things that make New York great can no longer afford to hang around?

New York won't be New York without the option of seeing Patti Smith at CBGB's. Smartmom saw her there once, but it was an incredible 3-hour show a few years back in which she played the clarinet, read poetry by Charles Bukowski and sang, "Gloria" in top form.

New York won't be New York without the Loser's Lounge downstairs at the Fez, a monthly tribute show featuring a cast of mostly unknowns doing unconventional versions of the work of a single songwriter or group.

New York won't be New York without the fun of using the women's bathroom at the Plaza Hotel with OSFO; the vicarious pleasure of walking past the Palm Court and hearing the violinist play. Smartmom and OSFO always admire Eloise's fine portrait by Hilary Knight and head upstairs to the tres elegant ladies room.

Even worse, it looks like Smartmom and Hepcat won't be able to spend a nostalgic night at the Plaza on the occasion of their 20th wedding anniversary, which is a few years off. What fun it might have been to revisit the site of that special night when champagne flowed like water and they were at the beginning of the beginning of something big.

New York just won't be New York anymore.


At 6:04 AM, Blogger Savtadotty said...

That is so sad. Savtadotty spent her wedding night there too, many decades ago.

At 6:02 PM, Blogger jonesy said...


eeesh, even never actually have visited there, CBGB's is automatically known as the place where you started, where you earned your badge, where you paid your dues to be legendary!


I can deal with the strange stares at my son's school from other parents when he picks out his Ramones t-shirt to wear to school that day. I can deal tons of stuff. I refuse to standby while this breeding ground for talent and inspiration goes down.

not right, this is not right!


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