As I said yesterday my editor is off somewhere doing unspeakable deeds and I have been asked, tasked, and threatened to keep these shorter than usual. I am complying, letting some of the hot air out of the balloon (or is it buffoon?) before this gets to you. I was up late last night at the behest of old pal Greg Brier who, along with some players to be named later, is involved with Heathers (506 East 13th Street). They asked me to do the 3AM till close DJ set and I said "Yay!" or something like that. It’s 7:30 AM now as I write this … welcome to my world. As they were setting up the equipment I was informed that most of the DJ’s use vinyl, and that this bar was the notorious after-hours joint Brownie’s way back in the day. Heathers is for real. The crowd was simply wonderful and the atmosphere is the perfect mix between dive bar and trendy lounge.
I cannot confirm that it was indeed Brownie’s, as that was a long time a go in a galaxy far, far away, and my vision and memory were often clouded back then. Although I never did drugs or drank I did stay up for days at a time and did push my limits in other ways. Brownie’s was the last stop for those who desperately needed more blow or maybe a blow job. It was a place of deep desperation tucked away in an area where nobody cared or at least didn’t complain. Nowadays neighbors complain all the time and the good folks at Heathers rightfully spend a lot of energy to be good neighbors. A big "or else" hangs over that statement.
Way back when the neighborhood was rough, punks and other revelers in ripped jeans, Ramones T-Shirts, or rock and roll collars pointed their pointy shoes toward the place, traveling in packs for safety, seeking just a few more hours of fun. I went there to find someone sleazy enough to top off my night. It was easy pickings. There’s an old saying which thankfully I rarely repeat or even subscribe to anymore. It goes something like this. "In 30 years in the nightclub business I never went home with an ugly woman … but, I have woken up with a few". Such was Brownie’s and my life before I got it all out of my system.
The punk era was for me the best time of my life except maybe for this time. The streets I walked and played in then are hardly recognizable today. Crossing the Bowery on Second Street the other day I watched yuppies from Peels glaring at some rockers having a smoke outside Bowery Electric. The yuppies were thinking rudely of them, their closeted minds content with fabulous slumming in the continuously unrecognizable hood of my youth. The look on one yup’s face as she stared at some post-punk refugee was "what is happening to this neighborhood". She took the words out of my mouth. I glanced up at the Joey Ramone Place sign above and lamented his loss, not regretting a second of my misspent youth. Brownie’s was a big part of it. If you see me out and about ask me about my favorite Brownie’s story, which I cannot repeat in this family blog.
Late last night I offered up some tracks that I might have heard back then, or it least had the vibe as I recall it. The Steve Lewis Brownie’s mix:
"Jet Boy" – The New York Dolls
"Where is My Mind" – The Pixies
"Stay With Me" – The Dictators
"New Rose" – The Damned
"Detention Home" – Dead Boys
"TV Eye" – Stooges
"Kashmir" – Led Zepplin
"The Lion Sleeps Tonight" – The Tokens
The Rising Surf- The Tandems
Decoy- The Sandals