Walking Tour: The History of Art, Crime, Drugs and Punk Rock on the Lower East Side with John Joseph
What was it about the Lower East Side that attracted so much talent and crime in the last 40 years? Since my early days of punk back in the summer of 1977 I’ve been exposed to some of the best music and the worst crime. Everything from Max’s Kansas City to the Alphabet City Butcher Daniel Rakowitz who lived right above me and killed his girlfriend, chopped her up and fed her to the homeless in Tompkins Square Park. I was also in that park when the riot of 1988 kicked off and I played one of the last shows at CBGB’s.
Most people walking around on the Lower East Side today with its trendy boutiques and coffee shops have no idea of its history, the great music and violence that has always co-existed side by side down here. I’ll take you to the punk clubs, gang hangouts and drug spots where some of the craziest things went down. It’s a first hand account from someone who was immersed in the danger having myself grown up on the streets of NYC since the age of 14. I guarantee you it will be a true punk rock & crime history lesson from someone who was there way back then and is still here.
We will drop by the famous CBGB’s location where The Ramones and so many other legendary punk bands started. We’ll walk by Great Gildersleeves where the Hells Angels regularly ran people over on their motorcycles. Stroll down memory lane at Saint Marks Place passing Trash and Vaudeville (punk store), the Electric Circus where the likes of Bad Brains, Crass, and so many others jammed. All the while telling you my anecdotes and funny stories of the crazy shit I’ve seen go down. Then Tompkins Sq Park, giving first hand knowledge of the area’s events. We’ll even hit MANITOBAS for Bob Gruen’s famous Punk Rock photo exhibit before we go by the Ritz (now Webster Hall) and Irving Plaza where so many great bands like Black Flag, Bad Brains, Circle Jerks, Motorhead (first US gig), The Damned, Buzzcocks played and where the late punk-rocker John Belushi slam danced his nights away. Finally our last stop on the tour will be Max’s Kansas City where we end in Union Sq Park discussing the area and what is what like. Drugs, hookers, violence, the Palladium where The Clash’s London Calling album cover was shot. Ever heard of Julien’s Pool Hall? The porno theaters where I’d sleep in the dead of winter for 50 cents a night and the Gramercy Park Boxing Gym (now PC Richard’s) where my old man and many World Champions boxed. The bottom line is, whether you’re a seasoned New Yorker or someone visiting the city on vacation, this tour is not to be missed. I can guarantee that it will be a memorable experience.
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