Don Hills Memorial Fiasco W.I.P.ped By No More Mr. Nice Guy

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Don’t even read this as I’m so frozen and tired and not ready for months of non-global warming. It’s on days like this that I want to call Al Gore personally and tell him to shut the fuck up! How cold is it? I saw a cabby having a conversation with a pedestrian and his middle finger froze. That’s cold and old.  

Yesterday, in my first post in this new year of the Dragon or Mayan or whatever deity you kneel to, I told you my New Year’s Resolution was "No More Mr. Nice Guy." I’m gonna lose some friends in this process, but Facebook says I have 5000 of those and I feel I can afford to lose a few. Since I am not going out and have nothing new to report on, I will rehash this feud surrounding the Don Hill Memorial fiasco. The players are Trigger who runs Continental, Lyle Derek who throws those Dropout parties over at W.I.P. on Tuesdays, and Michael Schmidt who used to run Squeezebox at Don Hills before he moved to the left coast and broke a thousand hearts. Musto over at the Village Voice has done a great job covering this and I’ve said a few words. My last article lambasted Lyle Derek, the target of numerous attacks from Trigger. Lyle and I have talked in person and I told him he screwed up. I do believe his batty-eyed, plead-of-innocence claim that he thought the Don Hills Memorial at Irving Plaza was going to sell out and his little prequel-end run wouldn’t matter. Some people contacted me saying I had sided with Trigger and that is not the case. Trigger was wronger than wrong and I’m here today to make that clear.
 
I have been swamped with terribly long and grammatically challenged e-mails, texts, facebook messages, and calls about this disaster for about 2 weeks now and I am here to tell you: it’s just lame. As far as I can tell from all the bull-poo sent my way, Trigger completely screwed up what should have been a wonderful night. He dominated, changed his word, miscalculated, badly promoted, and showed the world how not to do an event, and then after weeks of laying low, he began to point the finger at everyone else. People I love and trust tell me that the failure of this gala lays at his feet and you can punctuate this sentence anyway you want.
 
Trigger, it is a crime to take on a big challenge like this and fail so badly. It is a bigger crime to blame others for what you created. The captain goes down with the ship and the responsibility. The failure of this event comes from your attitude, which permeated the atmosphere of the production and promotion. Many people involved did so reluctantly or dropped off because of this atmosphere. You claim to be a great friend of Don’s and I do not doubt that, but your behavior was extremely un-Don Hill like.
 
Here is a quote from many that underscores how people involved felt about the event going in. The name has been left out, and not because they could ever feign innocence:
 
Trig sent everyone an e mail saying no one was to do covers as He, (Trigger) was playing covers… again very odd behavior for a promoter, to feature himself instead of, jesse Malin, Bebe Buell, Richard Butler, Dave Johansen, & Manitoba. he’d pissed off EVEYONE by this point. Most had agreed to just fucking play the two songs & forgo any payment after Triggers insane whining.
 
The show didn’t sell because the love wasn’t there. Don Hill was all about love. Your attitude sabotaged the good feelings, the vibe necessary for success in these types of endeavors. This memorial did not have a Don Hills vibe to it. It had a Trigger "5 shots of anything for $10" vibe.
 
Lyle Derek is no innocent. He did an atrocious thing stealing a bit of thunder from Trigger’s imperfect storm, but there is no way that his action throwing a pre-Don Hill event at his Dropout weekly event caused any real damage. You knew before that Tuesday night party that your Thursday affair was not getting traction. You sent out emails discussing lowering of performers’ fees in the event of low turn-out. I spoke to the honchos over at W.I.P. where Lyle had his pre-party. A few hundred of the "I never pay for anything types" attended. Your insistence that this in-crowd could have bailed you out is at best naive.
 
The Don Hill event at Irving Plaza was ill-conceived. Charging a crowd like the Squeezebox crew $35 or the $25 or even $10 is not going to happen. First of all, the Squeezeboxers who would pay would have come early to see many of the acts on the "early" bill. A 1:30am start time for a club event in a venue that has never been club-friendly was an awful idea. Throwing $6,000 at an awful idea is an awful idea. To blame the late-night debacle for your failure to generate buzz about an event that was such an easy sell is ridiculous and callous. I hung out with Lyle the other night and he has moved on; Michael Schmidt and all the players are to be paid later as well. Don Hill too. Time for you.
 
Lyle shouldn’t have done what he did, but you, Trigger, are way out of line blaming him for your own abject failure to generate real interest in an event that could have been so much realer. The vibe wasn’t right, and looking around for a scapegoat and then blaming and indeed threatening a club hustler like Lyle isn’t justified or in any way worthy of a real-deal player. Trigger, you played way out of your league and your continuous attacks only alienate you from the crowd you so seem to want to embrace.
 
Worst of all, you attacked Michael Schmidt, one of the nicest, most honest guys ever to grace our scene. Without knowing who you were talking about, you blasted him with words and phrases that crossed the line into libel. He warned you about his ability to draw late and with pays. He has lived 3,000 miles away for many years and told you he didn’t know how many people he would draw. In your own words:
 
all of Michaels concerns were valid and i knew intuitively that i’d never take in the 6 grand i had invested in the SB part of the night alone,  to honor Don but I had made other such moves for this night like flying Frankie Inglese in to DJ cause Beavher and Soul Kitchen were also such a huge part of Don Hills. There was no palpable return on that financially but it was my intention to make this a night to honor Don in every possible way and to be as inclusive of everyone as possible.
 
You also stated that one of the reasons you went public with these attacks was: "honestly I simply need to vent!"
 
So Trigger, you have vented to Michael Musto, to me, and to everyone who would listen. As each vent came, you sounded more and more like the real reason for your real mess. You didn’t understand that the legacy of Mr. Don Hill was to lead not to bully, to learn not blame, to make better not criticize, to love those who didnt understand how much you need to love. Don wouldn’t have been squealing to the press, pointing fingers, or counting pays on his fingers and his toes. He had many nights fail and many succeed. He took them all in stride. His legacy is too strong to be tarnished by your bad behavior. Buy yourself a mirror and look at it for a long time. Then, apologize to everyone and we will all move on. I can imagine you reading this and saying "Steve, I though you were my friend!" I am, Trigger, thats why I’m telling it to you straight. Don Hill was a man and Trigger, it’s time for you to man-up and, as I said to Al Gore up top … just shut the fuck up.
 
I am DJing Thursday at Hotel Chantelle or I wouldn’t leave the house. Maybe if I were out I’d check out this Caden Manson/ Big Art Opening at Abrons Arts Center Playhouse (466 Grand Street) Thursday night. It figures to be a hot enough crowd to keep me warm. Heather Litter invited me for the performance she is in of Broke House:
 
Broke House is a new group performance from Caden Manson / Big Art Group and follows a narrative about the residents of a house and their hanger-on, once a documentary filmmaker arrives to capture their lives. On a skeletal set webbed with video cameras, the characters try to recall their given roles as inevitably the foundations of their dreams collapse, and they are thrown into the desert of their own futures. Part comedy, part ritual, part love spell.
 
I hope their landlord gives them heat in that Broke House.

A Birthday, an Anniversary, and a Date With my Editor

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I have decided to no longer call my dear friend Nur Khan. From now on he is NUR KHAN. Last night, Nur…er NUR, delivered big time…again. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (BRMC) put on a wonderful, intimate, driving rock and roll show at NUR’s Electric Room, which I suspect is the size of many of the dressing rooms this act has gotten used to. I last saw them a couple of Fashion Week’s ago when NUR showcased them at the now-defunct Don Hill’s. At the time, NUR insisted that BRMC was never again going to be seen in a room that small. He was wrong, but in such a good way.

The invite-only crowd was full of the beautiful and cool and all the usual and unusual suspects. There was enough sound in the small Electric Room to power a stadium and a big-time light show as well. Every time I write one of these, fans of the band chime in and get all upset that I don’t talk about what they sang or wore or said. This isn’t a review of the show, but merely a testimonial to NUR and BRMC and the effort put in to enlighten a select few. Electric Room’s Tuesday night DJs Justine Delaney and Nick Marc were on before and after the act. We chatted while Justine offered up sounds that unfortunately cannot be heard in most places. Tonight at Wass’ birthday bash at Avenue, I will be true to my school until they pry me from the booth. I want to say thank you, NUR KHAN.

After my DJ gig, I will be heading to Cielo, another little club that delivers big with a devotion to a purity in music. They are a house venue, and although I definitely rock and roll, I do love house when it isn’t being offered as a mindless medium to jug heads. Tonight is the eighth anniversary of Louie Vega and Kevin Hedge’s Roots NYC. Louie, just in from a seven-week tour of Europe, will spin from 10pm till 4am. He is so "one and only" that I have decided to no longer refer to him as Louie Vega. From now on he is LOUIE VEGA. One of the nicest guys in the biz and easily one of the most talented DJs to come from here. I look forward to his set.

Lastly, my editor Bonnie Gleicher, O.K. BONNIE GLEICHER, has put herself up for sale – or at least rent – in a silent auction win-a-date bidding thing. She will go out for a night on the town that I will arrange with the person who bids the most for her charming company. The loot will go to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. As of this writing she is up to $300 but I assure you she’s worth much more. I would walk a million miles for one of her smiles. I’ll write about this adventure and give you 15 minutes of fame (if you like) if you are the winning bidder. Find out more about this date with destiny here.

Remembering Don Hill with a Few of His Closest Friends

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Yesterday we talked about the incredible group of musicians gathering this Thursday for the Celebration of the Legendary Don Hill, the deceased owner of the club that bore his name, but rarely bored anyone. Rock royalty will show and renew their vows at this Irving Plaza event. A couple of weeks ago, I sat at a back table at Continental, Trigger’s Bowery and St Marks booze box, and discussed with Don Hill friends Michael T, Michael H, Queen V and Steven Blush, what the man meant to them in life and now in eternity.

Things got a little dicey as a tale of the joint’s demise and its effect on Don were talked about. It’s a tale of the business struggling to get up on its own two feet, but unfortunately stepping on a lot of toes in the process. The Irving Plaza gala will be talked about for years. The rockers will give it their all for love of Don.

Don Hill has passed, and a lot of people are getting together to celebrate his life. Since Don Hill went down, there’s not as many places where we can all gather. And let’s face it, Don Hill owned the place. He booked it, he answered the phones, and, we suppose, at the end of the night swept up the place. He was that kind of guy, and we all loved him. Let’s talk about who he was to each of you. Michael T, tell me why you’re involved in this event, and what did Don Hill mean to you?
MT: I met Don back in the eighties at Cat Club when I was very young. He opened Don Hill’s in the early nineties, and I was one of the first persons to perform there. Later, in the second run of Don Hill’s, I started to do my party, Rated X, there. It was really the first time that Don and I had worked together on a regular basis. It was super easy. Don was always the same. He was Don. It’s so rare in the business to have someone that’s just steady, where you know what you’re going to get out of him. We had a great working relationship, and a comfortable personal relationship. He was a straight shooter.

Michael H, how’d you meet Don?
MH: I met Don when Cat Club started to hire rock and roll bands. They were just experimenting. They’d just started this live performance rock and roll thing there, with Don Hill running the show. I remember him being this sweet guy, talking to me when I wasn’t even in the band. I was just there to do their sound checks and to see what the action was. I was very young as well, maybe a little older than Michael T, but Don was right away just a gentleman, very accommodating to someone just sitting in the corner. Don took care of me that evening, and I always remembered that. Coming back to Cat Club through the years, he was always the same guy, always caring if you had a drink, if you didn’t have enough money. Don was always making sure you had a drink in your hand and a smile on your face. As the years rolled on, we were one of the first bands to play Don Hill’s club. Instead of bothering him, he was calling us offering us gigs. In New York, you’d have to pull teeth to get shows. Don wasn’t that way. He handled his club a whole different way, in a manner of that you’d get a good slot, and you’d play, and he’d make it up to you if something happened. Down the road, Don was a big fan of what I was doing, and offered to manage my band, Bender. Bender got signed with a Columbia and Sony records, and he was very excited to have that accomplishment, that he’d helped out from the ground up. He was just so supportive of musicians who were struggling, who lived in this sort of environment of this city where it’s difficult to afford to put a band together.

As a guy who operated a bunch of joints, he made it look easy and it isn’t easy.
MH: One thing about Don was he was in it for the spirit of the music. He was never really into the money-making side of it. Don could have branched out a bunch of Don Hill’s probably, but he just kept it quiet.

Queen V. Who was he to you, how did he touch your life, and maybe to ask a hard question, what’s it like to not have him around?
QV:
How much time do you have? Let’s break that up into three parts. Don Hill was a person, he was my friend, he was my brother, he was my mentor. He was there for me through thick and thin. Coming up as an artist in New York, he was my lookout on the west side. You had CB’s on the east, and Don Hill’s on the west. I didn’t know him as long as these guys did, but in the early 2000s, I was oohing and aahhing more than performing on stage. Don was very supportive. He was always open to a new idea. He let me do whatever I wanted performance-wise. I think the most important thing to me about Don Hill, besides the fact that he was a hell of a guy, was he let me cut my teeth on his stage and in his club. Through the Bitch nights, the Rock Candy parties, and having my band perform there in all kinds of other incarnations, it was a place that, as I’ve told Steve Blush before, it became my church. It became the place I could go and work out the  demons, worship the lord I know as rock n roll, as corny as that sounds, and really work it out, get ready for other cities, other stages, bigger places, and hone what it is that I do, what I consider my life’s work.

I guess in rock it’s great to be a success, but being a rocker is its own success, almost like a religion. To people like me, who can’t listen to anything else unless I have to, and we all have to, we find purity in a small band. There’s a moment unlike any other moment when you see a young band coming up, a band that’s been trying and trying to make it, and all of a sudden it’s clicking. It’s an amazing moment. Don lived for that moment. He was not necessarily the boss, he was one of us.
QV:
He was. And with his own little sprinkling of Nashville in there, his bandana, his whole thing, he made you feel like a success. That you were successful at what you were doing, that it was working. He really gave a sympathetic ear, little bits of advice. He was just there for you in every way.

Steve Blush, you’re a music guy. There was a time when Don, to make money, moved into hip-hop. It really wasn’t his thing, but he had to make money. So there was a lack of purity there. I guess I want to address with you, not only your own experience with him, but also the rebirth of Don Hill’s, the hope that he had in that second incarnation, the last incarnation, with Nur and Paul Sevigny.  
SB:
We haven’t talked about this before, but what we all share is that Don was so much more than a club owner. I never had a relationship with anybody who was a club owner like I had with him, and I’m sure everybody feels the same. His purity was almost corny, almost unhip, but most people didn’t get it. To me, that was like the ultimate hip. It was all about music and art. At his funeral there was like a thousand people that showed up, bikers and drag queens and suits and rockers.

I first started working with him when I came back to New York in the mid-eighties, and I was tied in with the hardcore punk scene. I booked Monday nights with Carlo McCormick over there for a couple years. I would get the Butthole Surfers, and he would get Lydia Lunch, and Don was just cool with the whole thing, until I put in GG Allen, who shit on the stage and threw it at the crowd and got me fired. It ended up as this big story, and Don was not even that upset with me. We maintained a friendship. Pat Kenny wanted to kill me, but our friendship never wavered. No matter what shitty club we were doing, he’d always show up. But the thing about the remake of the club, I have a sadder view of it. I feel like that’s not what he wanted.
MH: I think we all felt that way.

I didn’t feel that way. I was under the impression he was happy.
MH: Absolutely not.

Okay, then let’s get that out.
SB: I know deep down that’s what he didn’t want. That’s not the kind of club he wanted it to be. He was coming from a different angle, and he was the only club owner coming from that angle.
MH: A church is a place of worship, it’s not a place of greed. Well, I shouldn’t say that. But, ideally speaking, I feel the same way as Steve Blush. I knew the owners, and I knew what they were hoping for and promised. It came out electric. They had a killer week, which was amazing, but I think it was more than some of them could chew as far as the business side. Don didn’t really have an office, he had a little place where he answered the phone, like his little cave. The cave got taken over. I feel that’s what Don lost. He lost his little basement. It became more of a business center.

There’re so few rock clubs, and of course, the reason for that is that it’s really hard to make money booking bands. We’re sitting in Continental, which no longer has bands, because Trigger couldn’t make money with bands. He makes money with five shots for ten bucks. The reality of the situation is that Don wasn’t booking hip-hop anymore, and there were Iggy Pop and Hole on stage. In a sense, there was a chance. It only lasted a year, but there was a chance that it could find its own feet.
MT:
But it didn’t last a year. It only lasted maybe six months, at best. 
MH: And a lot of those bands just played on high, high, expenses.
MT: They were bought for Fashion Week.
MH: It was a De Leon tequila week. They brought in a hundred grand, or whatever it was. They could afford those names.

So it lost its purity.
MH:
Totally. Those shows were bought. Those shows weren’t like the ones when you would have Green Day or whoever come because it was Don Hill’s and they wanted to be there. I had heard that you wrote something about the new takeover, and when I heard about the new players involved…

Nur Khan and Paul Sevigny.
MT:
The word Kahn [con] would be the most appropriate.

Is that a Star Trek reference or do you mean “con”? We can go there.
MT:
They’re friends of mine, as you know.

And friends of mine.
MT:
I just don’t think those guys are the right representation of Don Hill’s because they go into a place and they do their thing. Their thing was nowhere nearwhat Don’s thing was.
SB: Opportunity.
MT: Thank you.

But that’s sort of like people defining you by the last girlfriend rather than the one you’re sleeping with now. Maybe Don needed the new girlfriend to survive, and survive is what he did. Maybe it was a means to survive. And it’s not necessarily a sell out, but a chance to keep it without hip-hop, without selling out in that way. I mean, at least Paul and Nur are rockers.
SB:
It was kind of like a spiritual thing. There was two kinds of clubs, and Don didn’t represent that other kind of club.
MH: Bottle service.
SB: Yeah, he’s the opposite of that. He’s just about making it almost like a play pen, a cultural center, whatever word you want to use for it.

But with rents and insurance and all that you end up at White Noise  as one of your only options.
SB:
You know what Steven, this killed him. People say all kinds of things, something dirty happened. We all loved the guy, but he died of a broken heart.
MH: Amen.
SB: I don’t mean to be weird about that.

I’ve heard this said.
SB:
I believed in the guy, but he was broken.

So like King Kong, it wasn’t bullets that killed the beast, it was a broken heart?
SB:
That club was his life. He loved what he did.
MH: He didn’t want to be part of the new school.
SB: There are those clubs now, and he didn’t want to be that. He wanted to be where you actually make money, and people buy the drinks, and that’s how he survived all that time.
MT: The Page Six clubs are the six months clubs, or maybe if they’re lucky, the year club. Don Hill’s was the eighteen year club. There’s quite a difference. Frankly, I never saw Paul or Nur or any of those guys in there for the next ten years, at the door, downstairs, in the cave, grueling day after day with Don. I just didn’t see it.
SB: And I think it’s really important for us to do this. Most of us are pretty jaded. At least for me, to show up, it’s just because it’s Don. I mean, I wouldn’t think twice about it.

This is rock and roll royalty, New York City, right here. Queen V, you’re involved with this event. When the music’s over, and they turn up the lights, are we all going to be sad or happy, at then end of the night?
QV:
I think it’s a bit of both. I miss Don, I miss him all the time. I miss going to the club. I miss running into various knuckleheads there. I’m not looking at Michael T. I was doing a party there the last couple years called Take Back New York because I was tired of the bottle service clubs. I wanted to do my own night, I was tired of complaining about not having a night to go to. I tried to pass on what I had absorbed from Steve and Motherf*cker and growing up here. So yeah, I miss it. I’m excited to do this at Irving Plaza. It’s a beautiful venue, it’s a historic venue, but I will forever miss the club known as Don Hill’s. That little, proud and pitiful one story shack amongst the high-rise buildings. I think it should be a museum to New York rock and roll. In the end, December 15th will be a night of celebration of the man, all the different people he brought together, all the nights, the artists, the debauchery, the worship, and the love.

Don Hill Benefit: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

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I was so not going to post this week, but as the great Michael Corleone said in The Godfather: Part III, "Just when I thought I was out … they pull me back in." So here we are, and since we are quoting: The line "No good deed goes unpunished" has been "attributed to several luminaries, including Clare Boothe Luce, Billy Wilder, American financier John P. Grier, banker Andrew W. Mellon, and Oscar Wilde." That’s from Wikipedia, the definitive source for everything in the world, unless you’re looking for a missing sock or stuff like that. I know what you are thinking. I should have taken the week off, but this story is so, so juicy couture that I had to let you in on it. Here is a tale of old-school club folk misbehaving.

We talked here about that Don Hills tribute a couple Thursdays ago with David Johansen, Dick Manitoba, and a long list of rock ‘n’ roll hootchie cooers. It was supposed to be a tribute to that loved-by-all great man and club owner. I was to go, but I had to DJ that night and still posted a couple of stories — you know, doing my part, paying respect. Now comes a burst of e-mails that seem to describe the goings-on in a not-so-wonderful, benevolent, or respectful way.
 
Trigger, that guy who owns Continental (that five drinks for $10 joint on the Bowery) sent me a long e-mail last night. The letter complains of his clubland naivete. I hope he hasn’t followed this up by sending a writer something he doesn’t want out there. Now that would be naive. The letter lays out a scenario where he personally flew in people and promoted the Squeezebox reunion as a second half of the Don Hills tribute. Trouble is, that second half had already taken place at Lyle Derick’s W.I.P. regular Tuesday night soirèe called Drop Out. The players there even leaked the appearance of Jane County at W.I.P. days before the party, taking the wind out of the sales that Trigger depended on to recoup the money he had laid out and paid for the tickets and many other real expenses. The Drop Out party was a freebie, while the Don Hills thing needed $10. Very few came to the second part of the Don Hills tribute. I tried to get a straight answer from Lyle last night and he replied as follows via text then e-mail.
 
What’s the beef between you and Trigger?
No beef at all. I respect him all good on my end. I heard tho. I’m sure he has bigger fish to fry
 
I got a thousand words from him saying basically you and Michael duped him into paying for him and Jane etc to play/do a free party at Drop Out on Tuesday and therefore no one went to Don Hills thing for Squeezebox … they took in 460 bucks … the language was not friendly words to the effect of hustled and ripped off etc. he says he lost like 10 grand. I want a statement going to press in am … like how could you book something so similar 2 days before … right now you and Michael are being painted as hustlers or worse.
What’s your e-mail again?
 
Lyle Derick then wrote via email:
 
It is regretful that the "Celebration of Don Hill" was not more successful (financially speaking for Trigger). I have nothing but respect for my elders and peers in nightlife, especially Don who the night was really about and the man that help start Dropout and gave us the chance to do something fun in NY and bring worlds together. Don was a great man, whose presence in nightlife is deeply missed. I wish nothing but success now and in the future for all of my elders and peers in nightlife.
Sincerely,
Lyle Derek
 
Cool and what do u have to say to the accusation that by putting michael and jane at droppout for free on tuesday u defacto sabatoged the thursday event because droppout was free. Did u think the don hills thing was so huge that it didnt matter and it unfortunately didnt turn out that way?
Of course steve, you know me.
 
 
This was the type of thing that used to happen in nightclubs before the bean counters took over with lawyers and accountants in tow. Lyle, eager to ensure his Tuesday Night at W.I.P. maintained momentum, seems to have crossed an ethical line that he will cross when it suits him. Yes Lyle, I do know you and do like you, but this was disgraceful. That line about respecting my elders and peers in nightlife used to work back on a day when your boyish good looks and a little smile would get you out of anything. You don’t have too many "elders" left in nightlife, unless I was paying you when you were four. It won’t work here. I threw you a softball at the end and you threw back "you know me." That really isn’t a good enough answer.
 
Trigger tried to control something a little too big for him to control. Something that he didn’t fully understand. If Michael Schmidt and Jane had only appeared at Irving Plaza I am sure that event would have been better. Nothing can be done now, and Don Hill is still gone. His career was all about his word being good. In this case, trust wasn’t enough. Don represented something that was indeed dishonored by the deed described here. I do know Lyle and Trigger and the players involved, and although Trigger won’t be trading in his trademark "coolie" hat for the hat of a saint anytime soon, and disparaging words about his intentions and his control and a whole mess of other snide, snarky remarks have been laid at my door, in the end he was doing a good deed and he got fucked. Here is his e-mail to me, uncensored:

========

Having worked in NYC nightlife for my entire life, post college, I thought I’d seen it all. But what recently happened to me is one for the books, as far as i’m concerned anyway.
 
What Michael Schmidt and Lyle Derek just did to me has me feeling violated. You all know that I booked this event for our Celebration of our dear, deceased, friend Don Hill. When Squeezebox came aboard we were all ecstatic! It was going to be expensive for me because Irving Plaza was adding on 3 grand to the original rent because Michael needed the room from 1-4 am and the original 8 grand rental was only till 1am. Michael also asked me for an additional 3 grand guarantee to pay for Jayne County, Patrick Briggs and himself to be able to fly in and to also pay some performers.
I felt that i’d maybe come close to breaking even with what MIchael was calling the Final Squeezebox. Little did i know that MIchael was hosting a "Pre Party" to my event two days before at DropOut with Miss Guy spinning and Jayne County performing. I wasn’t aware of this till two days before Dropout when Lyle emailed me about it saying "I hope you don’t mind that I’m having Jayne County perform one or two of her non hits and no one’s going to know about it." as if I had a choice. this was two days before his event and 4 days before mine. I brought this up to Michael and he said "That won’t hurt your event at all.We’re all promoting your event Thursday night! I’m even making an appearance at Dropout to promote your event."
 
I never thought of myself as being naive but I have to admit that they really screwed me on this one and for a moment I believed them that it was just a pre party and their real goal was to promote our Squeezebox for Don at my Irving Plaza show. Calling it a "Pre Party" was just a sham. Dropout was THE PARTY!!! They used my money, my Voice Ad (Lyle had the nerve to ask me to say that we were screening his Squeezebox Film all night at my Irving Show). I stupidly agreed to it cause it was all for the cause in my naive mind.
 
In reality I spent 3 grand to fly these guys in to do DropOut where there’s no cover charge and it was wall to wall jammed with all of the same people that would have come to our event had there not been, basically the same event two nights earlier, without all of the rock bands taking up 2/3’s of the night and Dropout was FREE!!!
 
Do the math- i spent 6 grand on Squeezebox to take our event for Don over the top and I took in $460. all because of these selfish, classless pricks.
Irving Plaza asked me if they could close at 2:30 am cause it was a ghost town in there and i said of course they could. who would spend $10 when they could get it for free two nights earlier?
 
You see originally, Michael was understandably worried about my $25 cover charge so I got Irving Plaza to agree to charging just $10 starting at 12:30 for Squeezebox people.I promised MIchael the room by 1am. he got the room at 1:05.  Little did I know that Michael was HOSTING the Dropout night two nights prior to mine and I had actually foolishly had flown him and others in to do it. Lyle said it was gong to be a surprise and not promoted at all but we all know how the internet works and word got out as they knew it would and their event was jam packed and Squeezebox drew just 46 paid people to my event at Irving Plaza!!!!!!!!!!  Lyle even told me he’d email me an invite but he never did cause had i been there and basically seen my night completely submarined financially, spiritually and emotionally I would have flipped out. He never did email me an invite. Smart man.
 
I spent 6 Thousand Dollars to make Squeezebox happen and Michael never had the courtesy to inform me of his other, no cover charge event, with basically the same core of stars as my event. he let me do this without ever telling me about it. it was only when Lyle brought it up a couple of days before Dropout that i heard about this. I rented the extra 3 hours for SB for 3 grand and paid Irving for that in advance and paid Michael his 3 grand for the talent and flights at around 10pm the night of my event having no idea what i was in store for. FORTY SIX PEOPLE PAID!!!
 
These guys sandbagged me and had the nerve to hug me and thank me the night of my event for what I was doing for Don and the Scene while they had already surreptitiously stabbed me in the back.
 
I will recover from this at some point. I will never regain the 11 thousand dollars i lost on this but I did a beautiful thing for a beautiful man and i will take my losses like a mensch and move forward. While it’s true that i’m doing better just running my place as  a local bar rather than a punk rock club, 11 thousand dollars is an awful lot of money to me as it is to most of us.
 
but will these two creeps ever recover from the bad Karma they’ve created for themselves here in manipulating me, double dipping and overall, fucking me over??? I doubt it. maybe people like them get away with lying and cheating their way through life on one level but we all know that What Goes Around Comes Around. These are two very slick, charming, charismatic guys. They’ll probably try to talk their way out of this and act innocent but the facts are the facts. It’ll be something like "You know, everyone has problems with Trigger and blah blah blah." but lets look at what’s real here- I did something pure, from my heart and backed it up with my wallet. Even though i knew i was taking a bath i paid everyone what i was supposed to. Even those two losers.
 
I’m pretty embarrassed by this that i could be taken so easily and be so trusting. it’s not like me. I foolishly thought that we were all on the same page- that this was for our friend Don and there were no hidden agendas. Little did I know.
 
Still in shock and feeling violated…Trigger
 
*here’s just a few of of their pre show "non promotions"  my show for Don Hill was Thursday December 15th. I found out about their "Pre Party" December 11th. I’m an idiot for trusting them and even a bigger idiot for paying Schmidt the 3 grand guarantee to fly him and others in, in reality, to do Dropout.. I naively was expecting a packed house. little did I know that the "Packed House" had already taken place.
 
DropOut Tuesday Dec. 13th with DJ Miss Guy at WORK IN PROGRESS …
events.nydailynews.com › … › New York Music Events DropOut Tuesday Dec. 13th with DJ Miss Guy at WORK IN PROGRESS in New York – Special guest MICHAEL SCHMIDT hosts a Pre-Party for the Don Hill’s tribute show …
 
DropOut Tuesday Dec. 13th with DJ Miss Guy at WORK IN PROGRESS …
events.nydailynews.com › … › New York Music Events DropOut Tuesday Dec. 13th with DJ Miss Guy at WORK IN PROGRESS in New York – Special guest MICHAEL SCHMIDT hosts a Pre-Party for the Don Hill’s tribute show …
 
DropOut Tuesday Dec. 13th – NYC Calendar | Guest of a Guest guestofaguest.com › Calendar › Dec 2011 Dec 13, 2011 – DROPOUT @ WiP invites you to a very special Tuesday edition with DJ Miss Guy DEC 13TH Special guest MICHAEL SCHMIDT hosts a …
 
DropOut Tuesday Dec. 13th – NYC Calendar | Guest of a Guest guestofaguest.com › Calendar › Dec 2011 Dec 13, 2011 – DROPOUT @ WiP invites you to a very special Tuesday edition with DJ Miss Guy DEC 13TH Special guest MICHAEL SCHMIDT hosts a …
 
TONIGHT!!! Don’t… | Facebook
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TONIGHT!!! Don’t miss DropOut Tuesday with DJ Miss Guy, Michael Schmidt, Live Show by Transgendered Jesus and special guest Jayne County. DropOut…
 
DarianDarling – Twitter
twitter.com/DarianDarling
Punk rock icon Jayne County will be making a special appearance w/ Transgendered Jesus TONIGHT at DROPOUT! 34 Vandam 11pm Say my name @ door.
 
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The end, for now …

You Want To Go Where Everybody Knows Your Name: Drinking With Rosie Schaap

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Rosie Schaap, the New York Times Magazine’s Drink columnist and author of the forthcoming memoir Drinking With Men, tends the bar one afternoon a week at South in Park Slope. It’s a comfy neighborhood spot—the popcorn’s gratis, a modest television plays English soccer games, and on a chalkboard menu at the far end of the bar, listed under the grilled cheese, is “The Ryan”—the same thing but with jam on top. It’s named for a young guy I saw in there the other day sipping a hot toddy and reading the newspaper. Rosie said he works mornings at a coffee shop down the street. 

I’d figured that getting a sandwich named after you was generally an honor reserved for Yankees legends and Broadway stars (RIP Stage Deli)—but really, there’s no reason a neighborhood kid that likes jam on his grilled cheese shouldn’t be the concept’s namesake. And what makes even more sense is the very fact that Rosie wound up at a place like this. A former teenage Deadhead with a history of serial regularity at the likes of Puffy’s Tavern, Liquor Store, and the Metro North bar car, she’s less a drink writer than someone who writes about people whom she happens to drink with. 

In the book, she recounts lessons learned in the Irish tradition of good craic (bar discourse with rhythm and flow), and the New York tradition of buybacks (“Free drinks are like blow jobs—if you have to ask, you don’t deserve one.”). She spent most of her undergraduate schooling at a Bennington watering hole and most of her graduate schooling at an artists’ bar in TriBeCa. It was from the expats at Good World Bar and Grill that she acquired her love of Tottenham Hotspurs Soccer Club, and it was a brief affair with a haunt in Montreal that reminded her of the comfort of being a lone woman. But what’s consistent at each stage is the company of others who’ve had something to teach, and Rosie’s willingness to listen. That, and whiskey.

You were a budding poet, at what point did you decide that you wanted to write a memoir?
I never thought I wanted to write a memoir. Drinking With Men really started with one story, that first story on the Metro North. Over the years, as I recalled the story before writing it down, it always felt like a This American Life story to me. And I say that not just because it was weird to be this kid trying to fit in with grown-ups, and finding a way to connect with them really unexpectedly. It felt like a This American Life story because I knew what happened to me, I knew that what I took away from that experience—even though for me it came through tarot card readings—is something that a lot of people feel when they look back on their youth. That there was this time where I really tried to fit in with grown-ups and I learned I wasn’t one of them. That’s what I really remembered from that experience, was feeling really great for a few weeks, feeling like I could really hold my own among these adults, and then something happened that reminded me that I wasn’t ready for that. 

Did you go back to that idea of wanting to be ‘the kid?’
Kind of. After that experience—I was really young, I was 15—I mean, I had walked into bars on my own just to see if I could get away with it. Before then and after then. I’m not going to name names, but most people who grew up here in New York when I did kind of had a list of places that didn’t rigorously screen its clientele. So I was always interested in seeing what I could get away with. After that, I didn’t really make it my business to try and fit in with adults. It kind of happened—again, after college when I moved back to New York and found myself at Puffy’s Tavern in TriBeCa, I just sort of fell in love with the place. 

First, before I really started talking to the regulars there, I just loved the way it looked. Just a really classic, beautiful corner bar, with tile floors and a high tin ceiling. It felt very Edward Hopper, like an iconic bar, it was exactly the way I thought a corner bar should look. And then when I started to get to know the regulars—and they were, at the time, all older than I was, it was great. Here I was, twenty-four, twenty-five, and all of my new friends were in their 40s. And they had great stories, and a lot of them were artists. But they weren’t arty—you know, they were all working artists, but it’s not like we all sat around talking about art all the time. We talked about everything. And even though I was the only native New Yorker in the bunch, they all knew a New York that seemed so much cooler to me than the New York I’d grown up with. I’m perfectly at peace now with the New York I grew up in, and feel very lucky. But they had been at CBGBs in the early days, and Max’s Kansas City, you know, seeing, like, Blondie. 

Do you get nostalgic or think that people moving here now have already missed out?No, I don’t. I don’t feel that way exactly and I want to guard against slightly premature old-fogeyism. Oh, you should’ve been there when—that can get a little tedious. At Puffy’s, it never felt tedious to me hearing the stories of my elders at the time—they’d hate being referred to as my elders. But I loved it, I couldn’t get enough, hearing their stories of the 70s and 80s, when things were just a little grimier and dirtier and people seemed to be having so much fun. 

There are still great days and nights in bar culture. But I don’t think I lived through a time like that, where it was this wild, fun, decadent time. I don’t think it’s been that way in my lifetime as a grown-up, drinking person. But Puffy’s is still around, it’s still very beautiful, but it’s a very different crowd. So many of the artists who settled that area didn’t win their fights to save their lofts, as the neighborhood became so prosperous and so expensive.

And didn’t Liquor Store get turned into a J. Crew?
Ugh! It did, it did, which is still painful to see. And to hurt us Liquor Store regulars more, they kept the bar. The actual bar is still there, stacked with sweaters and stuff. Just to torture us. 

Not that being an artist necessitates bad manners, but does the etiquette in a place change as the clientele does?
I don’t think it should, you know, individuals will either have good manners or bad manners. I’ve met very well behaved, decent, polite stockbrokers, and extraordinarily rude writers. It’s a cliché—the richer a person is, the less they tip. I’ve seen exceptions to that. Groups are often hard, I mean, someone who behaves wonderfully as an individual might not in a group of loud, rowdy people. The people who tend to behave the best are those who work in other service jobs, you know. Other bartenders, people who work in restaurants, people who know what it means to have someone say please and thank you, which happens very seldom. You’ve probably heard a lot how people think your generation is so entitled. But there’s always the exceptions, there’s always the few who are like, I’m sorry about my friends. 

What’s wrong with nightclubs?
Nothing! Well, nothing for those who like them. They’ve just never appealed to me. You know, by definition they’re places where one would go to hear music and dance, which is fine, but for me, going out drinking always means going out talking, and listening. And that’s not what nightclubs are for. Also, they tend to start their hours very late. And for all my love of bar culture—I love to close a bar a couple times a year, certainly when I was younger I could close them more often. There’s something I really love about the early, early hours of a bar. It can be a little depressing, but I think in a kind of appealing way. But for me, bar culture was this kind of after-work pressure valve, so my normal hours would be six in the evening. And I love afternoons in a bar—day drinking is my favorite when I can do it. 

One exception for me was Don Hill’s. I liked the music they played, and a lot of people I’d gone to college with wound up in New York, so there were always familiar people. There was one party called Squeezebox—there was actually a documentary about Squeezebox—that was full of drag queens and interesting people.

Fish Bar has a great sign in the door that says “Please no loud talking.”
Inside the fish bar, I don’t think they care that much. But it’s so small that if you’re being really loud people are going to notice it. Its scale makes it kind of impossible not to get to know the people around you. I organized a reading series there for a couple years. And I always prefer the word organize to curate—somehow reading series started getting curated in the last 15 years. I think I prefer an organizer model to a museum model.

How do you feel about the word “mixology?”
I think it’s gross. I don’t know exactly when it came about, I think pretty early, I think an early guide to drink-making in the 19th century used mixology or some close variation on that in the title. So I think it probably came of age in one of the great eras of pseudoscience, you know.

Like phrenology?
Like phrenology, exactly! I’m not going to go around feeling the bumps on your head. I’m just going to make you a drink, I’m not going to mixologize it. I mean, there’s a lot of jargon and a lot of deep earnestness associated with drinking right now that I think is very much besides the point. The point is just to drink whatever makes you happy and have a good time. 

Does that inform your approach to writing about drinking? There’s only so much you can say about the ingredients of a beverage.
It is, I feel being a columnist is kind of the luckiest things in the world, because I’m not a critic. I can have and express opinions, and I do, but nobody has to shudder when they see me walk into their bar.  And as suspicious as I am of a kind of seriousness and complexity in cocktail culture right now—do you know about Booker and Dax? They have, like, a centrifuge. And they have purpose made hot iron pokers to heat up, you know, hot drinks. And it all sounds very space age, but when I went there, the drinks were delicious, the staff was fun and friendly, everyone there was having a great time. So, great. Let them do what they do. 

What I don’t like is when that kind of cocktail culture takes place in a setting where people aren’t really talking. Or only talking about cocktails. A bar is where you come and complain about work, talk about sports, argue about politics and music, pour your heart out, talk about breakups. All of this stuff. Coming in and talking about the greatest Old Fashioned you had. You know, if it’s a great story, well told, terrific. But if it’s a kind of competitive sport, it’s not interesting to me.

Now what’s the deal with The Grateful Dead?
You saw Nick Paumgarten’s article?

Yeah, and I love the line about him thinking it was a metal band but that actually, the lyrics are about roses and bells and dew.
Yeah the lyrics are probably my least favorite part of The Grateful Dead. They’re pretty—yeah, they’re pretty florid. 

Was your favorite part just, selling beads?
As with bars, my favorite part is always the people. The community. That’s what I loved, that’s what I was looking for. And I didn’t have the nerve to just run away from home and really make my own way, or join the circus or something like that. So The Grateful Dead was kind of a ready-made community waiting for more people to join and see the country. So when I look back on that experience, I’m most grateful for the people and I got to see so much of America that I never would’ve gotten to see otherwise. 

Have you drunk about the country since?
When I was at that age, I was also far too young to be served by most places, so I didn’t really get to experience that much bar culture across America at that time. But you know how it is, when you travel and you’re writing or reporting, you wind up at a hotel bar. Which, in great cities with great hotels, they’re some of the best bars in the world. But you know, you’re average little hotel bar, in some small hotel in Des Moines—it may not have much to distinguish itself from other hotel bars. But the people are always interesting at hotel bars, because they’re coming from everywhere, and usually a little bit lonely, and happy to have a conversation. 

Money Problems at Don Hill’s, Rock Party at White Noise

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The Don Hill saga continues to get stickier. Rumors and innuendo have become accusations, as unpaid employees left unpaid are increasingly motivated to find a way get paid. I was told that the loot set aside to pay employees was being used to pay huge outstanding debts, like rent and purveyors, and that parties were taking money out of accounts faster than could be put in to pay staff.

In my day, staff money or payroll was put in a separate, untouchable account. According to my source, settlements for unpaid wages were offered—though a small percentage. Fingers are being pointed at every bold-faced name, and words like “thief” and “forgery” are being bounced around. I have heard the word “forgery” twice now, and that is disconcerting. Poor old Don Hill is not around to smile and make it right, so the story keeps going. A close friend even speculated that this whole financial affair—the bursting of the bubble—directly led to his untimely demise.

One former employee told me:

“Every night I worked the place was packed and the bar was doing well. They made a conscious decision to not pay their staff. I personally don’t care why the club closed. An employee is not a bill. I never made an agreement to loan Nur and the gang my services. Where were you born?”

The last part the “Where were your born part” was a result of my defending Nur and Paul Sevigny’s role in the affair, and of course their liability. I left off a great deal of the vitriolic stuff because, after all, children have access to this column. The employee then asked me to help them find a lawyer, and concluded with “anyway, I am devoting my life to this until I am reimbursed.” Speaking of Rock and Roll, Friday night I DJed Luke Brian Sosnowski’s birthday bash. The White Noise co-owner’s bash is one where no one asked me to play GaGa, Jay- Z or Rhianna. White Noise is, of course, a house of Rock and Roll, so there was no need to cart any House tracks either. There is a purity to White Noise’s format, which was obtained in a very short time. They make it look as easy as putting on a leather jacket, uncombing your hair, and finding a cool T-shirt to wear. Friday, the joint was banging, and a state of nirvana was attained (the feeling not the dead band), and you didn’t have to sit in a lotus position or go vegan for a bunch of decades to get there. I went on between 12:30AM and 2AM, joining the regular Friday night DJs including the legendary Michael T., and the fabulous and eloquent Samuel Valentine. Their Friday night soiree is called “The Wild Ones” and according to Sam…

“It is the only rock party in NYC at the moment, that showcases Rock N’ Roll music from the legends to brand-new artists. People enjoy this party in many different ways. For example some girls like to get on the bar and dance, others come to chat, meet new people with similar interest in fashion and music, find that hot rocker to take home, and there are the ones that come to rock out to the music and get wasted. NYC needed to have a rock party with a more modern approach to it rather than concentrate in resurrecting acts that are no longer around all night. Come with an open mind to hear some hits you love, and some new tracks yet-unheard of, which we think you should love as well.”

Check out the images below by Jes Leppard: image image image image

The Legend of Don Hill & The Final Word

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“When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” So goes the famous line from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. And that’s the way we roll when a legend passes, and such is the legend of Don Hill. We hardly ever dig too deep to find faults, flaws, or the things that define him—up or down—as human. However, recent rumors imply that the joint bearing his name is possibly opening again under “new” management. The implication is that the old management drove the place into dire financial circumstances so that the club was no longer able to continue. This requires a look, as reputations are on the line.

When Don Hills took Paul Sevigny and Nur Khan on as partners last September, it seemed like a second coming—a marriage of heaven and earth. Immediately, mega acts like Iggy and Courtney were banging in the intimate room, and it was déjà vu all over and over again. It was a real rock and roll joint, where true believers could hang their fabulous hats. When it began Don didn’t just go away and let them do it their way. He was there smiling, telling stories, reveling in the renewed fame and possible fortune. He had new life—until he didn’t.

His sudden death shocked us and penetrated our beings on a level unlike most others. Don was the “greatest guy in the world”—a saint who’s sins were amusing and fun, and a big part of the party. I paraphrased another Liberty Valance quote once to describe Don Hill. I said he was “founder, owner, operator, answered the phones, and he also sweeps out the place.” Don was the perfect club owner, everybody loved him.

A bit of time has passed, and the joint has since closed. When I talked to Paul Sevigny, who has created big success out in LA which is now taking up his time, he told me it didn’t feel right without Don. They had had a great run. They had made a statement. I postulated that without Don things would be different with the community, and the landlord and local enforcement. I was told that Martin from the Ear Inn was actually on the license, while Don had the relationship with the landlord covered. I was also told that Don owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in back rent, and to scores of vendors. I asked Nur to comment.

“You will see another live music venue from me. It’s my passion. Don was riddled with debts that kept popping up out of nowhere. I loved the guy but Don’s creditors back from like 2000 who started taking money out of the bank account. When he died we tried to get the lease changed which was being negotiated together while he was alive but were only offered a 1 ½ year lease with a 6 month demo clause. Would have had to pay all Don’s back debts that were way too extensive for such a short-term lease. That, coupled with the fact that we had no idea who was going to come out of the woodwork at any given moment and take money out of the company account, made no business sense to continue. I loved Don and the venue. Yes I’ve had some of the best times in NYC in that room, but I will build another live music/dance room.”

The Nur/Paul/Don Don Hills was a home-run for those into this scene. Nur is right to walk away and to clarify that it was old debt and a changing situation as well as the loss of his old friend that meant the end of this era. Rumors abound of a temporary operator until the landlord is ready to put up hamster habitats in the air space above. I guess going up will bring them closer to the heaven Don dwells in. There is a rumor of a Taco Bell. I think that would be perfect. The city continues to shed it’s nightlife culture to service the high-risers at the expense of the low riders. That’s why Brooklyn was invented, anyway. The Nur/Paul/Don show is over, and the light it shone was a bright, and has left us a little blinded, wandering lost and wondering what can replace it. There’s still places to go and I’ll just pop into Kenmare a bit more to taste the magic until these guys bring it again—together or separately.

The Kills Turn Up the Volume on ‘Blood Pressures’

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It’s opening night at New York’s Mondrian Soho hotel. A blackened afternoon sky unleashes a mini Noah’s flood on the cobblestone streets outside. Rain is pooling in gutters, ravaging umbrellas, and rendering impossible the job of the five workmen trying to affix fake ivy to the hotel’s arched awning. Inside, the hotel is trilling with backstage energy. Boxes of piping and spools of electrical cable clutter the lobby, where a crew is checking the integrity of a makeshift stage. In just a few hours, the Kills’ Jamie Hince and Alison Mosshart will push their way through a well-heeled mob and onto the stage, where they will perform for the first time songs from their raw-hearted new album, Blood Pressures.

Before the gig—before 32-year-old Mosshart will appear in her favorite paper-thin leopard shirt and convulse to the thumping, anthemic “Future Starts Slow” that kicks off Blood Pressures, and before she and 42-year-old Hince create an onstage chemistry that makes it nearly impossible to believe their sets aren’t bookended by bathroom-stall sex—the pair enters the Mondrian’s lobby looking exhausted. They’ve just returned from the photo shoot for this story, for which they consented to being sprayed down with water; just the night before, they flew in from London, the city where the two first met and formed the Kills. “I plan on having a few drinks and playing new songs in front of strangers,” Mosshart says about the night’s schedule. “When we get too serious about playing a party in a hotel lobby, we’re fucked.”

We settle into wicker settees inside the Mondrian’s restaurant, Imperial No. Nine, a glassed-in, chandelier-strewn hothouse complete with a garden swing set and potted plants. Hince and Mosshart do not match the fantasy wedding theme. She’s wearing a blue-plaid shirt, tight black pants, and a jacket that looks as if it were sewn together from Muppet pelts. Her eyebrows are drawn in with slashes of magenta, and, like Hince, who’s perfected the haute-rocker look his fiancée, supermodel Kate Moss, all but invented, her neck is adorned with a tangle of silver charms. (Mosshart, who contributed a “Today I’m Wearing” column to British Vogue during the month of April, counts Pam Hogg, Hannah Marshall, Burberry, and Isabel Marant among her favorite designers.) A table heaped with glass baubles divides the center of the restaurant. Hince pokes the air. “That looks like a disaster waiting to happen.”

Famously, Hince and Mosshart heard each other before they met face to face. Almost 10 years ago, Mosshart, a native of Vero Beach, Florida—“a really strange state,” she says—was touring with a former band, Discount. The group was staying in the Gipsy Hill section of South London, right next to Hince, whose own band, Scarfo, had just broken up. “I was upstairs writing songs and recording on little four-tracks, and Alison was staying in the apartment below me, and she was listening to me playing guitar. She didn’t talk that much, so she just listened outside my window,” says Hince, who grins before adding, for effect, “…with a knife!” image

“We were laughing about that the other day,” says Mosshart, who’s just returned from the restroom after extracting something painful from her eye, flopping onto the sofa in a way that communicates both fatigue and an unwillingness to carry herself as a sex symbol. “We still sit in separate rooms when we write and then we play what we’ve just made for each other, but it’s a lot quicker because we’re not thousands of miles apart.”

Their connection—as friends (best friends) and as artists—was immediate; during that first visit they produced seven songs in two days, and when Mosshart had to fly back to Florida after an all-night session, they continued their sonic courtship, sending tapes back and forth across the Atlantic. (An early obsession with mediums of communication—operators, phone lines, telephones—still crops up in the Kills’ lyrics.) When they realized that the music they were making was actually compelling, Mosshart moved to London to pursue the Kills full-time. Noms de rock were adopted, “VV” for Mosshart and “Hotel” for Hince. “It was just to get us through the day and build a little bit of romance around the band so it felt like a dream,” he says of the monikers, which they no longer use. “As soon as we got any attention we came over to America, booked our own tour, and traveled around for three months.” On Valentine’s Day, 2002, the Kills took the stage for the first time. Mosshart had the date tattooed on her left hand.

It’s worth noting that the Kills toured before they recorded an album. (Their debut, 2003’s Keep on Your Mean Side, was recorded at London’s Toe Rag Studios, the same place where the now-defunct White Stripes made their chart-buster Elephant.) For one, performing is their bread and butter—“We’re a band that makes money going out on tour,” says Hince. “We don’t have radio hits. We go out and we work”—but turning a profit at gigs isn’t the Kills’ real reason for hitting the road so much: The stage is where Mosshart’s nearly crippling shyness transforms alchemically into rock star exhibitionism. “I’m not trying to discredit what I do, but it comes easily to me,” she says of performing versus day-to-day social interactions. “Maybe it’s cowardly to be on stage in some ways, because I feel really safe up there. I feel like I can do whatever I want because there’s this line in the sand. I could never do that on the ground. I wouldn’t have the confidence—I know myself,” she says.

About that shyness: Early publicity from Keep on Your Mean Side through the band’s second and even third albums (2005’s No Wow and 2008’s Midnight Boom) tended to paint Mosshart as a chain-smoking, hair-in-her-eyes wallflower who’d brood where words failed her. “I don’t think that I’m shy anymore, but I’m definitely socially awkward. I wish I wasn’t,” she says. “It sucks, but I’m not great with crowds.” It’s true, according to Hince, that she’s not nearly as nervous as she used to be, and today, after a quiet first few minutes, Mosshart does warm up—interrupting Hince, even, and laughing at the backstory of one particularly intriguing photograph floating around the web of an intoxicated-looking Mosshart arm-in-arm with Mary-Kate Olsen and Kylie Minogue. “Me and, like, the two shortest women in the world walking next to me—I look like an absolutely huge giant,” she says. “They’re both stunning and tiny.” As it turns out, Mosshart is genuinely funny. image

A few weeks later, I email Mosshart to ask how the tour is going. “So far, so good,” she writes back from London. “Ask me in a few more weeks. Halfway through the American tour I’ll have some kind of answer.” But back at the Mondrian, in front of a live crowd for the first time in nine months, she’ll give a performance so grittily sexy it would make Mick Jagger blush. Mosshart compares the sensation of playing shows to drugs, a rush of adrenaline so powerful you crave it again instantly. The Kills’ music sounds like it was written to be performed—and that’s what they do best. “It’s weird when you find those things in your life that you just feel totally at home with, and it’s funny that it only lasts an hour and then you’re in search of it again. It’s like, Oh no, how am I going to feel like this again?”

In some ways, Mosshart has answered that question with her own prolific career. Not including her old act, Discount, and the bands she played in beginning in middle school back in Florida, her vocal contributions to Placebo and Primal Scream songs, and her dedication to the Kills, Mosshart also fronts the Dead Weather, a rock “supergroup” with Jack White. (The White Stripes, White’s Grammy-winning duo with Meg White, recently disbanded, fueling rumors that Mosshart is almost too good at what she does.) A few years ago, at a concert in Memphis, Tennessee, the Kills were opening for one of White’s bands, the Raconteurs, when White lost his voice. Mosshart was asked to step in. “It wasn’t an easy transition because I never consciously decided to start a new band and neither did any of the boys [White, Dean Fertita, and Jack Lawrence],” says Mosshart. “Suddenly a year and a half went by and Jamie was like, ‘Hey, are we going to do this Kills record?’ I was constantly calling and being like, Jamie, actually, I’m not going to be home for another month, those kind of calls where you have that feeling, like, shit… ”

Even as one of the very few female rockers with boozy, motels-and-squats bona fides, Mosshart doesn’t necessarily consider herself an inheritor to the rock goddess mantel. “I have so much respect for people like Patti Smith and Debbie Harry, and even someone like Joan Jett, but I’d be lying if I said that they were my biggest inspirations. It was always bands like Fugazi in the DC punk scene, and I went through a real Berkeley, California, phase when I was 14, where I was like, I have to live there,” she says. “It was all punk for me—that’s what made me want to do music.”

Eventually, in November of 2009, after the Dead Weather finished touring, Hince and Mosshart returned to Key Club, their favorite recording studio in Benton Harbor, Michigan—it’s located across the road from both a mental institution and a prison—where they’d recorded Midnight Boom. “Jamie and I wrote a record when we should have written it,” says Mosshart of Blood Pressures. “I really love the album and whatever it took to get there.” A return to the lacerating rawness and dirty drum machines of their previous records, the sound that made the Kills a garage-blues sensation, Blood Pressures is also a more restrained and melancholy effort, with the coda-like ballad “The Last Goodbye” featuring both strings and piano as well as Mosshart’s most polished—and persuasive—vocals to date. image

“This time it didn’t feel like we had any objective other than to write good songs. It sounds stupid, but that’s what we did,” says Mosshart. “We concentrated and picked songs to work on that had good melodies and felt like they were complete, whereas usually we just beat ourselves up and drone on and act, like, bluesy and endless.” Adds Hince, “I think there’s something to be said for, after eight years, becoming better and quicker at writing songs.”

Getting better and quicker at making music was something they took very seriously, and for good reason. Recording Midnight Boom was a hellish experience that “took too long and cost too much money,” says Hince. In addition to several dead-end collaborations that nearly foundered the album, Hince’s relationship at the time with French model Valentine Fillol-Cordier messily fell apart, but lest the rocker be long without a model at his side, he met and started dating the world’s most famous “super” not long after. The couple is due to be married this summer.

At the mention of Kate Moss’ name, Hince’s face tightens painfully. Is he excited for the wedding? “I am excited.” Does he have plans for fatherhood? “I have no plans for anything.” His reluctance to talk about his relationship—he seems both apologetic about halting the conversation and harried—is understandable considering the paparazzi blitz he endures daily in London. If, as the tabloids like to suggest, Hince can be credited with taming a Doherty-drunk Moss, the Kills’ recent meteoric success must in some part be attributed to the publicity Moss brings the band. It’s an interesting turn of events considering the Kills used to book their own tours and still shirk major-label representation.

“There are so many lies written about us that I don’t want to reveal anything about my private life, even when I’m given the opportunity to come clean and tell the truth,” says Hince. He begins to list some of the more preposterous things that have been written about him: “I go to psychics, apparently. I buy Fabergé eggs. I’m always making a record with my girlfriend—but I’ve yet to hear it.”

Mosshart, for her part, isn’t in a relationship. “One day, one day, I’ll find a way,” she says in a theatrically wistful voice. “She’s married to the road,” Hince riffs. Clearly a bit pleased with the idea, Mosshart laughs, “Oh my god, I’m going to be this old haggard roadie lady with leather trousers and a screwdriver in my back pocket, ready for anything.”

The rain is still coming down in curtains in New York. “Honestly, I want to nap,” says Mosshart, stifling a yawn. She’s warily eyeing a camera crew on the far end of the restaurant. Drills, hammers, and thumps—possible samples on a future Kills album—are making conversation hard. Tomorrow night, Hince and Mosshart will play at legendary rock club Don Hill’s, the launching point for a long tour around Europe and America. And after that? Both insist they’ll continue to put out albums as the Kills. But with marriages, side projects, and the rigors of recording and touring, it’s impossible not to wonder what will happen to the duo next, or what their next album—assuming there is one—might sound like. Hince now lives in posh West London, Mosshart in the same building where they used to live together. “We’ve been super-close for almost 10 years,” Hince says. “We used to work together, live together, socialize together… I enjoy hanging out with her more than being in a band with her.” Mosshart makes an aw-shucks noise and playfully punches Hince’s arm. Then, more soberly: “I miss him.”

Photography by Marcelo Krasilcic. Styling by Christopher Campbell. Top photo: Jacket by Versace. T-Shirt by Louis Vuitton. Sunglasses by Ray-Ban. Necklaces by Giles & Brother by Philip Crangi. Shirt by Versus. Second photo:Jacket by Giorgio Armani. T-Shirt by Paul Smith. Jeans by Topman. Necklaces by Giles & Brother by Philip Crangi. Subject’s own scarf. Third photo: Vest by Maison Martin Margiela. T-Shirt by Bess Necklace by Ugo Cacciatori. Jeans by Topshop. Subject’s Own Ring. Hair by Marco Santini @ Community NYC. Makeup by Thorsten Weiss @ Community NYC. Photo Assistant: Jeremy Dyer. Stylist ’s Assistants: Lee Muston and Gina Zuniga –Baldwin. Location: Hudson Studios, New York City.

Blank City, Tammany Hall, & Don Hill

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Tonight will bring me to Madame Wong’s, that invite-only, pop-up hot spot at 3 Howard Street. It’s an Interview Magazine event for “Blank City,” a feature documentary directed by Celine Danhier. The DJs are JG Thirwell (Foetus), Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs), and Dan Selzer (Acute Records). The documentary tells the overdue tale of the disparate crew of renegade filmmakers who emerged from an economically bankrupt and dangerous moment in New York history. In the late 70’s and mid 80’s, when the city was still a wasteland of cheap rent and cheap drugs, these directors — Jim Jarmusch, John Lurie, Jon Waters, Amos Poe, and many others — “crafted daring works that would go on to profoundly influence the development of independent film as we know it.” So the synopsis reads.

The film, it is said, “weaves together an oral history of ‘No Wave Cinema’ and ‘Cinema of Transgression’ movements.” This is a great party, but beware you must be listed. Madame Wong says they hate saying no, but will if you have not RSVP’d. I’m looking for a date so let me know. The film opens April 6th.

On Saturday night I attended a “Good Life Concert Series” event at Tammany Hall. It’s a great place to see a show. I came to see Slick Rick. The event benefited the Fresh Air Fund and was sponsored by Christian Audiger Vodka, and no I wasn’t there solely for the gift bag. I have always adored Slick Rick, and I actually throw in his “Childrens Story” in my DJ set. It’s always a winner. Slick Rick performed 2 tracks, including that one, but hardly moved a muscle. He was anything but slick. Or maybe he was so slick that it went over everyone’s head. Sometimes people refer to me as a legend, and I always quip: “Every time I’m called that I check my pulse.” Slick Rick is a legend, and somebody should check his pulse. Although everyone loved him, he hardly broke a sweat, and then quickly exited through the crowd. He stopped to thank everyone for loving him, and he brought a smile of nostalgia to many faces. I just wish he had offered something new, and maybe swayed a little on stage. My friend, who had recently booked him, says he gets around $1500 for a show these days. He gets that, and my two cents as well.

The services sending Don Hill off to a better place are being held today and tomorrow. They will be for close friends and family, as space is limited. Many who want to attend aren’t going to be able to. There will, I’m sure, be a memorial event where the thousands he touched will be able to attend. I’m still in shock over the loss. There are a thousand Don Hill stories to be told. Facebook friends are offering sympathies and prayers. Eric Foss, artist and Lit owner, summed up this humble, talented, and wonderful man: “Don came to our 9th New Years party. His staff brought him knowing I would be stoked, and I was. He wondered if he could get in and my friends responded that ‘the owner is honored to open his door to you.’ I sure as fuck was! He inspired, employed, and kept the flame of downtown rock and roll alive. He will be missed. He was one of us. He was New York.” When Eric heard the news, he left dinner to get to Don Hill’s, where those who loved him were showing up to share and survive the loss. The dinner he left was with Zack Williams, who owns the gallery where Foss is having his first solo show on September 11th, 2011. At the dinner sat Robin Williams, Susan Sarandon, and Billy Crystal. Everything and everyone stopped for Don. All our business, our troubles, our partying took a moment to remember a man who had no enemies, and brought so much to our downtown world.