It’s not enough to know that Blondie was one of the absolute coolest bands to break out of the nascent NYC punk scene in the late ‘70s, or that Debbie Harry was without a doubt the most gorgeous, stylish, and ballsy front chick of the time (or maybe all time?). Chris Stein, the band’s éminence grise, has to remind us how bland New York is now, by once again dragging out his personal photo collection from that era.
Following his 2014 tome Negative: Me, Blondie, and the Advent of Punk, which displayed his mostly black and white photos in mostly chronological order – and showed Ms. Harry’s flowering from tom-boy punk into new wave style icon, while partying hard with miscreants of the time: Iggy, Lou, The Dolls, various Ramones, etc. – his new book, Point of View: Me, New York City and the Punk Scene (Rizzoli) exchanges the word ‘Blondie’ for ‘New York City’ in the title, adding shots of our favorite drug, fire, and crime ravaged metropolis to the mix.
For extra enviable vicariousness, witness photos of Stein and Harry and their pals Jean-Michel, Andy, Burroughs, Lydia et all, frolicking among bombed out tenements and graffiti strewn East Village streets. Nostalgia is best viewed in black and white.
The decade leading up to 1980 has been universally acknowledged as one of the most significant artistic and cultural shifts in Gotham’s history, and there are many books that work hard to prove that point. Few, however, include the photographic evidence that Stein has access to; and with his new collection, he solidifies himself as the Weegee of his generation. And of course, we wonder what other shots he has under the bed.
To help celebrate the new book, Stein’s photos from POINT OF VIEW will be on display at House of Van’s Brooklyn summer music and art series at a show on July 20, where Blondie will be playing with Liz Phair, and SASAMI.
Blondie playing a warehouse party in Greenpoint, in 2018? Maybe here’s hope yet? (#okaynotreally)