Freddy Alva, Chaka Malik, Gavin Van Vlack, SMOG RIS, and JERE on the Brooklyn Blastfurnace Podcast

The latest episode of The Brooklyn Blastfurnace podcast was a raucous one. Author Freddy Alva was joined by Urban Styles contributors Chaka and Gavin from Burn, as well as legendary writers SMOG RIS and JERE. Led by hosts Jimmy and John, the crew discusses the cultural impact of graffiti art and New York Hardcore, with many hair-raising tales of subway bombing and hardcore beef. The stories are great and the ensuing discussion of street culture and its history are interesting. Listen to the entire episode: 

BK Blastfurnace group photo.jpg

Urban Styles Book Signing at The Bowery Electric Set for November 14

DiWulf Publishing House and the Bowery Electric present a night of Urban Styles with author and historian Freddy Alva. Freddy will be bringing his new book Urban Styles: Graffiti in New York Hardcore home to New York City November 14th as the Bowery Electric hosts a book signing event to celebrate the vibrant and unheralded subcultures of NYHC and graffiti art. Special guest DJ Mr. Lee will be spinning a NYHC-inspired playlist and there may be a special guest or two showing up to join the festivities. This event is free and open to the public from 7-9 p.m. with happy hour drink prices until 8 p.m. and Freddy will be doing a meet-and-greet and signing copies of his new book in the upstairs bar. All are invited to help us celebrate this auspicious debut. Bowery Electric is located at 327 Bowery, New York, NY 10003.

Urban Styles Logo by SHOE.JPG

Urban Styles: Graffiti in New York Hardcore is out October 31st from DiWulf Publishing and is now available for pre-order

Urban Styles: Graffiti in New York Hardcore, the first book from author Freddy Alva, is a subterranean adventure back to a time when subcultures and underground movements blended seamlessly and went largely unnoticed by the mainstream world. Urban Styles deftly straddles the seemingly in congruent worlds of graffiti culture and the hardcore punk scene of the 1980s to tell the story of a unique moment in time when crossover between the two outlaw cultures was a common, if not heralded, occurrence. Urban Styles chronicles a gritty New York City and its boroughs while telling the stories of forgotten revolutionaries who were as familiar with stealth runs through train yards as they were slamming on the CBGB dance floor. Through an array of iconic images and first-hand accounts; interviews and essays, Alva compiles a history of youth culture that reinforces the connection between these two subcultures and shows the symbiotic influences shared by both hip-hop and hardcore. This tale is told through the eyes and memories of band members that were adept at wielding spray cans and the writers that represented New York Hardcore on the streets. Urban Styles features the voices of those who shaped both a sound and a movement and the visual iconography of a vibrant outburst of color amidst a graying, urban decay. A number of illuminating stories and examinations of culture are told by NYHC veterans like Chaka Malik, Mackie Jayson, Lord Ezec, Sacha Jenkins, and a host of others who populated the NYHC scene of the 1980s and 90s. Crews and members are represented as well, along with the first writers who played in bands. There is a plethora of exclusive images, most never seen before, and some done specifically for the book. It is a history culled from record and demo tape covers, flyers, t-shirts, and paintings that celebrates the union of these two uniquely New York street cultures and shines a spotlight on two artistic movements that have gone on to have world-wide influence on today's mainstream culture.

Freddy Alva Talks about His New Book "Urban Styles: Graffiti in New York Hardcore"

An author’s first book is a significant achievement. The simple act of completion is a victory unto itself. Freddy Alva, one of New York Hardcore’s most respected historians and documentarians, now stands at the precipice of this achievement. His debut book Urban Styles: Graffiti in New York Hardcore is finished and slated for an October 31st release date and is available for pre-order now. After years of research and interviews, Alva delivers a book jam-packed with history and experience that underscores one of the more overlooked aspects of NYHC: its flourishing graffiti scene. Through a series of firsthand accounts and vivid images of bygone pieces, Urban Styles highlights the melding of two subcultures whose paths to prominence were very similar. Born of a subterranean aesthetic and articulated through the disenfranchised sights and sounds of a youth culture at its apex, Urban Styles is as much a celebration as it is a study.

At over 350 pages and including 180 photos (many never seen before), Freddy Alva has lovingly crafted a remembrance that is as thorough and as unique as the city that spawned it. Now, as he gears up for the coming release date, Freddy discusses his process during the writing and compiling of Urban Styles and gives us an in-depth understanding of what it took to bring the book to fruition.

Chaka EXPO Malik

Chaka EXPO Malik

So, how’s it feel to have your first book finished and to have a definite release date?

It feels incredibly gratifying to have wrapped up this book and seeing the announced release date. I started this project one year and half ago this month; it's been a truly enriching learning experience putting all the pieces together. I must mention that this book has not been a one-man endeavor but a team effort: from the editors that looked over and gave suggestions to every word I wrote, to my talented layout guru, Orlando Arce, as well as the countless people that dug up photos or gave me leads on how to contact certain individuals that are a crucial part of this story. Last, but not least, is the never-ending support from DiWulf publishing that's made Urban Styles a reality.

How was the entire process for you? Did it ever feel like a chore? What did you learn about writing a book? What did you learn about yourself during the process?

I have to admit it was a bit daunting at first. When I initially came up with the concept I thought to myself; 'damn, can I really do this?' Sure, I'd been writing online articles for the past couple of years but I considered them just glorified fanzine rantings, not exactly book-worthy. But I do have experience in conducting interviews, gathering material, and a fairly extensive knowledge on how graffiti intermingled with hardcore in the NY scene. It's this mindset that made it not a chore, but something fun to do: reconnect with old friends, make new ones, and discover significant people and bands that shaped this unique synthesis. I've learned a good amount about how to construct a book proposal and develop an outline that arranges chapters into a cohesive whole. I guess all that time I've spent devouring music, graffiti, and urban studies-type books have prepared me to do this and give it my own interpretation. I learned that I've internalized some specific books that influenced me during my formative years, the end result being simultaneously a tribute to them and a stand-alone work all on its own.

- MQ DMS

- MQ DMS

You interviewed quite a cast of characters; do you have a favorite interview in the book?

I have to say all the people interviewed are special and have unique things to say, but the interviews that really stood out for me were the ones in which I reconnected with people I hadn't seen in decades. For example: JERE was one of the first people from my neighborhood I met in the HC scene in 1985; I lost touch with him for about 28 years and when we connected for the interview it was like a day had not passed and we picked up right where we left off. VOYER is another one: I hadn't seen him since, like, 1988, when I used to go his house to watch his band Terminal Confusion rehearse. I went to meet him in his old Bayside neighborhood in Queens; he showed up with cropped hair, wearing a leather MC jacket, sweats, and high-top sneakers. It was exactly the way I remembered him! I could go on and on with anecdotes like this regarding different individuals in the book, but the point I'm trying to make is that I personally know at least two-thirds of everyone involved in this project, so it's tough to pick a favorite. I will also mention that having Mackie HYPER involved is a personal coup for me; there’s no way I could have done a book on Graffiti in NYHC without having him in a central role. Everyone interviewed brings their unique back story and their own interpretation in defining this unique synthesis of graffiti and hardcore in NYC.

A lot of times, while writing a book, the narrative can take on a life of its own, and the story can sometimes end up in places you’d never thought it would go. Did you experience anything like this with Urban Styles? How true to your original vision do you think the final product is?

This unexpected turn of events definitely happened as I was researching material for the book. For example: I had a vague idea of this band called Frontline, because of Mackie from The Cro-Mags having played with them. What I didn't realize, and soon came to discover, is their truly pioneering place in the roots of what the book is about. All the members of Frontline were graffiti writers in the mid-1970s and inspired by the Bad Brains, they formed a hardcore band in 1980. I place them as the foundation of this intermingling of street cultures and hope more people can know just how important they are. Any band that followed in their footsteps, as far as blending both influences, are direct spiritual descendants of this fusion. Another phenomenon I learned about while doing the book is the graffiti scene out in Long Island. I knew hardcore was big out there, and it sometimes gets overlooked, but my interview with GRASP from LIHC band Silent Majority is definitely an eye-opener as far as outlining the history and the major players that kicked off that movement over there. Ultimately the book expanded way beyond my original outline, and that's a good thing as it really showcases the far-reaching impact these subcultures have had on the overall cultural zeitgeist.

- Mackie HYPER

- Mackie HYPER

In your opinion, why do you think a book like this is necessary? What do you think is its cultural value?

I’ve always loved reading and discovering under-the-radar movements that have somehow escaped scrutiny and feel that this particular tome fits that category. As time progresses and subcultures get diluted or co-opted for the purpose of wider diffusion, knowing the origins is vital to understanding its overall place in the cultural pantheon. Art, music, identity... these are all aspects that give meaning to human existence and the popular perception of something like graffiti or hardcore music might not be seen as conductive to these basic needs, but I would argue that, yes, they do fulfill a much needed role in expression and a desire to connect with others. This all might sound a bit high-minded, I know, but the value is there and all you need is an interest in the arc of urban history to see the far-reaching ramifications of supposedly "low-brow" endeavors.

There is a good amount of books about graffiti out there; same with books about various hardcore scenes. What do you think sets Urban Styles apart; what makes it different?

That is true: the canon of graffiti books is vast and the hardcore one is growing on a daily basis. Urban Styles gives a different viewpoint on these subjects and I will venture to say that the book is ultimately a New York tale; reminiscing on our youth, our neighborhoods, and, ultimately, a way of life that has largely vanished due to the onslaught of gentrification, changing demographics, and the city becoming a victim of its own success. The times depicted in the book will never come again. I think this is at heart what makes my project different: it's simultaneously a celebration and eulogy to a bygone era

Along with the history of various subcultures, a lot of the stories in Urban Styles cover some unsavory subjects; there is mention of violence, drug use, even suicide. You did not shy away from letting your interview subjects talk about these topics pretty freely. How important to the overall narrative do you think these darker parts of the story are?

One can't sanitize the past in order to fit a particular narrative. I think that does a disservice to the reader, so I have to include people's recollections of some unsavory memories. To be honest, violence, drugs, and unlawful behavior was part of our upbringing, both in the hardcore and graffiti scenes. When you take a densely populated urban area and layer socio-economic hardships, the people growing up in these areas can’t help but internalize this plight and lash out in physical ways or through substance abuse; anything to relieve and dull the pain. Graffiti and its ethos of getting up as much as possible was bound to bring competition that progressed into outright conflict, either between individuals or rival crews. Drug use among writers ranged from recreational to functional, like taking uppers to be able to bomb all night. Angel Dust was preferred among them as it made one feel invincible and able to take on the world, traits that were needed to succeed in the graffiti world. I wanted the people interviewed to talk freely, warts and all, about the reality of those times. Things weren’t all so rosy and not everyone got along. Unfortunately, a good number of individuals from both scenes could not escape their demons and looked for a way out. The book is a tribute to them and their everlasting legacy, be it via the recorded sound or visual media.

- SANE SMITH

- SANE SMITH

In addition to all the interviews there are a lot of photos that have never been seen before. How did you procure some of the more rare shots that are in Urban Styles?

I’ve been extremely fortunate to have gotten a lot of fantastic, never seen photos, either through old friends or newer contacts that dug up stuff for me. In some cases, the photos were acquired through serendipity. For example, during the course of interviewing NOAH from Frontline, I casually asked him if he had any old pics. He sent me a Dropbox folder filled with about 200 photos; amazing shots of them playing A7, CBGB’s, their tags on walls. Really cool, candid shots of Mackie Jayson before The Cro-Mags… in short, just extensive documentation of an unknown chapter of graffiti in NYHC. It’s incredible what’s in people’s personal collections, you just have to ask the right question to the appropriate person and I was really lucky to have gotten access to all of these contacts, thank you one and all.

What can you tell us about the cover photo?

The cover photo was taken in the backyard of Abc No Rio in 1990 by an old friend named Richard Unhoch, who’s an extremely talented photographer. I would love to see a book one day of the Punk/Hardcore images he captured in the mid-1980s to the early 1990s. I’ve loved that photo since using it for an exhibit a couple of years ago and it has a triple meaning for me. First: it’s Abc No Rio club the way I remembered it, a place where I made some life-long friendships. Second: I love the teddy bear amongst the rubble, a sign to me of joyful tenderness among the urban decay. Third: on the upper left hand corner you can see a long-gone piece by SANE, a writer that’s a primal reference point for the graffiti and hardcore connection. He sadly passed away in that time period, so this is something to remember him and to honor his legacy. Props to HYENA for doing the Urban Styles logo on the cover and to Orlando Arce for laying it all out.

Cover art for Urban Styles. Photo by Rich Unhoch

Cover art for Urban Styles. Photo by Rich Unhoch

Give us an idea of what people can expect as far as content when they sit down and open up Urban Styles for the very first time.

People should be ready for an explosion of images, a large percentage never seen before. There are about 180 color photos plus a good number of black and white ones. They can expect writers that played in some of their favorite NYHC bands to dish out compelling narratives regarding their graffiti alter-egos. Any lover of old New York will appreciate the history of primal forces that shaped what the city is now and take away a new-found realization on just how deep these subcultures from a previous era have permeated popular culture and continue to in the 21st century.

Any ideas for future projects yet?

Yes, I definitely do. It’s a project that combines sociology, music, culture… very much in the vein of Urban Styles. Drafting an outline soon; I promise you will literally be the first one to see said outline!

Photo by: Jammi Sloane York

Photo by: Jammi Sloane York

Urban Styles logo by SHOE

Urban Styles logo by SHOE

"Urban Styles: Graffiti in New York Hardcore" by Freddy Alva Available for Pre-Order!

It is with great pleasure that DiWulf Publishing House announces the debut book from author Freddy Alva "Urban Styles: Graffiti in New York Hardcore" has been set with an October 31st release date and is now available for pre-order here

After years of research, dozens of interviews, and a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, "Urban Styles" is now complete and set for a Halloween, 2017 release date. Packed with over 350 pages and over 180 vivid, exclusive photographs, Alva has managed to capture the sights and sounds of two uniquely New York subcultures in this comprehensive overview of outlaw youth culture. Interview subjects such as Sacha Jenkins, Chaka Malik, Danny "Lord Ezec" Diablo, MQ, Mackie "HYPE" Jason, and a host of others tell the history of a subterranean culture that could have only come from New York. 

Sick Hands and Heavy Chords: Freddy Alva Talks about His New Book "Urban Styles: Graffiti in New York Hardcore"

Author Freddy Alva. Photo by: Jammi Sloane York

Author Freddy Alva. Photo by: Jammi Sloane York

By: Steven DiLodovico

Freddy Alva is deeply entrenched in New York subculture, and has been since his teenage years. This Peruvian-born writer and acupuncturist has the underground in his blood. He was a fixture in the New York Hardcore scene of the ‘80s as more than just a spectator. Freddy and longtime friend Chaka Malik were responsible for the seminal ‘zine The New Breed and the subsequent compilation cassette that has now become a NYHC legend in its own right.

Freddy has now embarked upon a journey of documenting a largely underappreciated melding of subcultures: graffiti and its symbiotic influence over (and inspiration by) hardcore music. In the ‘80s, the hardcore that came out of New York City was so closely intertwined with hip-hop culture that it seemed like every band expressed some kind of intrinsic inspiration from a culture that was rapidly being taken up by the mainstream as a social phenomenon. New York Hardcore sought to keep it grimy, though. Almost every hardcore band out of New York had an “intro bust” in their live set or as the kickoff to their demo, every 7” cover had some form of a tag as the band’s logo. The two genres were, in many ways, inseparable. Many musicians also doubled as writers, and their tags were seen all over the city. Many Emcee’s took hardcore and punk’s DIY values and put their own music out themselves. The era was rich with a blending of subcultures that transcended race, economics, and geography.

In his new book, Urban Styles: Graffiti in New York Hardcore, Freddy is seeking to celebrate a lost art form and to tell its outlaw story from the mouths and hands of those who lived and created it. I recently talked to Freddy about what the world can expect from his book and why it needs to be out there.

Sick Of It All piece by: Joe Janaro

Sick Of It All piece by: Joe Janaro

“My goal with the book is to spotlight a largely unknown connection between two important subcultures and show the common reference points they both synergistically fed off.”
— Freddy Alva

How did you find hardcore? Or did it find you?

I found hardcore by flipping through radio channels in 1984. There was a new wave station called WLRI out of Long Island that had a show called "Fun" in which they played harder-edged stuff like Throbbing Gristle, Killing Joke, and Clock DVA. I heard Killing Joke’s "Wardance" & was completely blown away. I went to a record store in the East Village to buy their record and, while flipping through the “K” section, I saw Kraut’s "An Adjustment to Society" LP. That struck a chord as I remembered seeing their "All Twisted" video on MTV, and by reading on the back cover that they were from my neighborhood of Queens, that sealed the deal. Kraut was the first hardcore record I bought, and that led me to seek out any other bands that played this kind of music.

Outburst/Absolution handstyle by: HYENA

Outburst/Absolution handstyle by: HYENA

What was your introduction into the graff world?

When I was 11 in 1980 and going to grade school everyone in my neighborhood of Jackson Heights, Queens, had a tag and wrote to a certain degree. When I got old enough to ride the trains I noticed and took note of the incredible kaleidoscopic images graffiti writers were writing inside and outside of the subways, blanketing the city as their own personal canvas. Older local writers showed me and my friends how to write, rack up paint, and get into the tunnels. It’s all a rite of passage for people my age that grew up in New York City’s five boroughs.

Beastie Boys piece by: CEY CITY circa 1985 West Village NYC

Beastie Boys piece by: CEY CITY circa 1985 West Village NYC

What was your motivation for putting this book together?

My interest came about a couple of years ago when I did an article for the No Echo website entitled "Graffiti and The Hardcore Connection". In it I profiled several writers whose work I’ve admired, the only provision being that they had to have played in bands. I included writers from California and Pennsylvania, but the majority of the writers were from New York City. This led to me to think about the unique and widespread synthesis of graffiti and hardcore in New York, as opposed to other cities in the US, where there were instances of that fusion but not to the overwhelming effect as there was in NYC. That synthesis had been going from the beginning of hardcore in the city all the way up to the present era. My goal with the book is to spotlight a largely unknown connection between two important subcultures and show the common reference points that they both synergistically fed off.

What eras/years are you covering?

I’ve broken down the eras into 3 phases: the early days of 1980-85, the Golden Era of 1985-1995, and the current era from 1995 to today. I realize current graffiti historians put NYC graffiti into 5 distinct phases, my deviation from that is a bit different because of the hardcore angle. The music and subculture had not been properly developed and codified, arguably, until 1980-1981.

Life's Blood sticker by: SMOG RIS

Life's Blood sticker by: SMOG RIS

In your opinion, how important was the melding of the two cultures, hardcore and graffiti?

I think it was extremely important as hardcore was seen, in its infancy, as a primarily suburban, middle-class phenomenon. The inclusion of graffiti, a uniquely urban art form, allowed a wider range of experiences to draw from. Issues of class, race, and social status figured prominently in the hardcore scene, as reflecting a microcosm of what New York City is. Graffiti allowed kids to make their own personal urban stamp on what was, for the most part, a homogeneous hardcore scene nation-wide.

Mackie "HYPE Jason from the Cro- Mags

Mackie "HYPE Jason from the Cro- Mags

What is it about the two cultures that make them so similar?

I think there were parallels in both subcultures, such as the outlaw angle. The same mentality that took to go into unauthorized locales such as train yards was present in setting up shows in abandoned and/or illegal spaces. The drive to get your graffiti tag or name up as much as possible was also present in bands trying to get their name out by any means necessary via flyers/wheat pasting. In New York especially, the same kid that wrote and was down with a crew could easily make the transition to hardcore as the stark, utilitarian underground sound was an appealing alternative to the commercial fodder flooding the airwaves at that time.

How significant a role does the actual city of New York play in influencing and informing both art forms?

The geography of NYC greatly impacted graffiti as it took a person out of their comfort zone, namely the neighborhood they grew up in, and took them to areas they might never have gone and interacted with people they would never have otherwise. Graffiti was the great common denominator, crossing over ethnic/social classes and unifying kids from wildly different backgrounds into a common goal. The same can be said of hardcore: a small percentage of kids lived in the epicenters of NYHC, namely Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Kids traveled from the outer boroughs, upstate NY, New Jersey, and Connecticut, and it was NYC’s mass transit system that provided a direct and lengthy commute. The economic blight of the city in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s also played a huge role in shaping both art forms, as it allowed kids to use the bare minimum of resources to express themselves in a society that appeared to be falling apart at the seams. The dire circumstances provided a fertile ground for art to flourish.

Terminal Confusion flyer by: VOYER TMR 1989

Terminal Confusion flyer by: VOYER TMR 1989

You’ve interviewed a number of musicians and writers for this project, who can we expect to hear from? Do you have a favorite interview thus far?

I’ve done about a dozen interviews so far. Writer/musicians like Sergio "DEEM" Vega from The Deftones/Quicksand, Gavin "NATZ" Van Vlack from Burn/Absolution, Louie "KR" Gasparro from Murphys Law, as well as leaders of what is a unique New York phenomenon: graffiti crews made up of mainly hardcore fans, people like DMS president Danny "EZEC" Diablo and Ed HUSH from SPORTS (Skins & Punks Out Rocking The Subway) fit this category. My favorite interviews were the ones in which all I had to do is ask one question and the responder was off and running, speaking non-stop for the next ten minutes, covering many different important topics. It’s a pain in the ass to transcribe, but totally worth it. I would say all the interviews are my favorites, everyone explaining in their own fashion this thing we call NYHC graffiti and why it matters.

Along with interviews, will there be photos? What can we expect to see?

I want to showcase unseen photos of pieces and tags done by writers that played in bands as well as writers that did tributes to NYHC, either by name checking bands and/or doing flyers/shirts/logos/record covers that referenced this vibrant scene. There is a huge body of work from the past 36 years that most people have not seen put together in one place, all the better to highlight its full visceral effect.

Have you ever put up any pieces?

I was never good at doing pieces. I was more of a tagger and doing throw-ups kind of writer. The couple of times where a full piece did go up with my name, it was through the efforts of a couple of old friends of mine that were good at piecing. All I did is help with coloring the finished work and sign my name next to it. Belated thanks to ROTE and DEEN, both X-Men crew, for hooking me up way back when!

Freddy's first fanzine: "FTW" by ROTE X-MEN

Freddy's first fanzine: "FTW" by ROTE X-MEN

Who should be interested in reading this book?

There is an obvious built-in audience in the graffiti and hardcore worlds that are interested in these subjects, but I think that there’s a wider range of readers that would be into it. Anyone that enjoys reading about NYC in the ‘80s or urban metropolises in general, will find something to take away from the book. Plus, the pure visual impact that will appeal to anyone based just on the overall intrinsic aesthetic value.

What do you hope to accomplish with this book?

My goal is to document a largely unknown connection between two seemingly disparate subcultures that continues to resonate in this modern era, long after their respective heydays. I also want to give an alternate history of what’s long been held as the gospel truth in Hip-Hop history, namely the assertion that Rap was the exclusive soundtrack to Graffiti writing. This was clearly not the case from my experience and from talking to other people that were around back then. Guitar-based music such as heavy metal, hard rock, and, of course, hardcore, was the preferred soundtrack for many writers. The history of a particular subculture’s origins can sometimes be shown in a way to fit a particular agenda. My aim is to give a voice to an untold story, largely from the people that were there, and to ultimately give a multi-dimensional view to what’s become, to a large extent, a nearly extinct phenomenon: urban subcultures.

New York Hardcore piece by: FCEE GAS crew

New York Hardcore piece by: FCEE GAS crew

 

 

 

 

Our 15 Minutes on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart"

The biggest stop on our journey was doing The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on March 25th. And I know you are all just DYING to hear the behind the scenes stuff from our day on TV. So here you go.

Our day started in Morrisville PA. Not leaving anything to chance or weather, we hit the road early. We rode up as a team: me, Amy, our spouses and a friend. The car was filled with an electric excitement that was fueled by caffeine and nervous energy. We knew were hitting “the big time” and none of us were trying to pretend we weren’t nervous as hell! Around 2pm we pulled over to the Joyce Kilmer rest stop on the Jersey Turnpike so Amy, Gibby and The Daily Show producer could do the pre-interview. It was short and sweet. Meanwhile, the show was on the phone with Riot on the Dance Floor director Steve Tozzi frantically trying to get clips from his documentary to go along with Amy and Gibby’s segment.  And they needed a Salerno picture of the infamous Butthole Surfers show. They kept saying “something with fire in it.” Fire good.

This couldn’t have gone better: not only was “No Slam Dancing” getting a prominent feature on national TV, they were also going to include Riot! The entire world was now going to hear about two very powerful documents about the legend of Randy Now and City Gardens. More importantly we found a way to get our friends included in all the hoopla. Riot is getting ready to drop any minute now, and between the two projects City Gardens will be getting a very fitting tribute in the coming months. This was just the first shot in what will be an all-out attack!

We got to Manhattan early and met up with some wonderful friends for a little pre-game celebration. We toasted with something that was just like champagne but wasn’t champagne and smiled and laughed and again that warmth of love and friendship surrounded all of us and it was beautiful. It was a nice, quiet moment before all hell broke loose.

Time came for Amy to report to the green room.

We found Gibby and his lovely wife already settled into the green room. Both were cordial and super friendly. I had never met Gibby before. It was very cool. The first thing we noticed was that he had written “GWAR” on his arm in thick black marker and I knew right there that this was going to be one hell of a television appearance. We met the producers; everyone was so nice to us. We got some snapshots with Gibby and it was just a great vibe in that little room.

And they had these big bags full of swag for us!

They called Amy into the makeup room, which was right next to the green room. I was hanging out in the long, narrow corridor, just taking in all the magic of TV, when Amy called me into the makeup room. The lady who was doing her makeup was a punker from back in the day. We’re talking the original CB’s and Max’s set. She showed us some amazing pictures. Amy told her to never mind the “natural look,” she (Amy) wanted CRAZY makeup: the lashes, the heavy eye makeup, the whole deal. As Amy said; “I’m from the ‘80s, when there was no such thing as too much makeup!” And they went to town on her!

There was a small commotion in the hallway and that’s when we were introduced to Dipper: Jon Stewart’s rescued pit bull. The poor guy only had three legs but he was just as happy as could be. They told us Jon always brought the dog to work. Dipper was great: friendly, playful, energetic. Everybody instantly fell in love with him. We tried to get pictures of him, but he just moved so darn fast you couldn’t get a good one!

And then I heard the voice. It was weird. I never met Jon and if he worked any of the hardcore shows I attended at City Gardens I never knew it. But there he was, right in front of me! And he was so gracious. Gave me a big old hello and a handshake and talked profusely about how much he had liked the book. Wow. I was floored. Soon the rest of the gang joined is in the hall. Amy and I presented him with a gift of two specially-made City Gardens pint glasses. We chatted for a long time about the club, about his fondness for it. He was just as funny and charming as you would expect! Sure, it was a bit disconcerting seeing the odd orange hue of television makeup caked on his face, but once you got past that you didn’t even notice. He made us laugh, put us at ease and told us over and over how great it was that we did this. Man, that was pretty heavy.

They started the show and we all went back into the green room. Amy was dressed and ready to go and she was gorgeous. If you’re wondering why yours truly wasn’t invited to sit with Amy and Gibby, well, think about what’s gonna’ sell more books: the rock star and the beautifully poised and radiantly gorgeous redhead or my dopey, bulbous head. It was an obvious choice, and we are talking about TV here, after all.

Well, you all saw what happened next: she absolutely KILLED it. I was so proud of her! We watched from the green room and were hooting and hollering the whole time. It was something else. Afterwards we had a brief moment with Jon to thank him profusely. And I even got him to sign the copy of “No Slam Dancing” I always carry with the intent of someday having every person who appeared on the book to etch their signature in it. Corny, yeah, but I sure don’t care.

After the taping we met with friends from City Gardens; people who were directly involved in helping this book come into being. My phone was already exploding with congratulatory texts from friends and family. I’ve never been successful at anything, and this was all very new to me. I was overwhelmed and I am not at all ashamed to admit that when I stood up and tried to toast Amy I completely lost it and broke down sobbing! It was a very emotional evening. And I am Italian, after all.

We raced back to Morrisville to catch the 11pm airing and made it just in time. I manned the social media and pumped it up into a frenzy. I could almost FEEL every single person I’ve ever known watching along with us. And by 11:30 pm our lives had changed drastically. By Wednesday noon Amazon was completely sold out of books. Our two distributors were calling for MORE BOOKS. Social media went NUTS and people were clamoring with questions on how to get the book. When all was said and done we hit #107 on some Amazon chart and we had pretty much sold out of ALL books. As of right now we are scrambling to get a second printing going and it’s a painfully slow process. Suddenly we had all kinds of friends we’d never knew we had before! Myself, I was getting notes from people who hadn’t had the inclination to speak to or even acknowledge me in 25 years. Strange…

But mostly everyone was just as excited as we were. This was a victory for ALL of us: for the generations of City Gardens folk this book represents and, really, for the glorious and beautiful music we’ve cherished all our lives.

So there you have it, our 15 minutes. Don’t worry; we’ll be here a LOT longer than 15 minutes. You can bet on that.

 

Watch the clip from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

Greetings and Salutations!

Welcome to our little page. We are very excited to get this thing off the ground. It's been two years since we've published our debut book; "No Slam Dancing, No Stage Diving, No Spikes: An Oral History of the Legendary City Gardens" and we are ready to get back in the game. While still writing, we've decided to push forth with this publishing company. We aim to find an eclectic group of authors and present the world with an alternative to traditional writing and publishing. We plan to run this thing punk rock style; sort of like an indie label where all our artists/writers have full control over their projects. We hope to provide a platform for those important voices that we feel need to be heard. We're kicking it off with what we think will be a stellar offering from a good friend of ours, Freddy Alva. Freddy has been a fixture of the New York Hardcore scene since the '80s and has produced several seminal works, most notably the New Breed compilation tape that showcased some of the most important NYHC bands of the time. This tape was an underground sensation, traveling in dubbed form all over the world. It made such an impact that, in 2016, a documentary was made to further preserve the history of both the movement and the music. Now Freddy takes on the melding of two very important aspects of New York street culture in his forthcoming book "Urban Styles: Graffiti in New York Hardcore." Part anecdotal oral history, part photojournalism, "Urban Styles" aims to not only educate, but also to preserve a very important and largely undocumented crossover of two vital form of expression. At its heart is youth culture at its finest: outlaw street art fueled by driving, crushing hardcore music, and vice versa. 

We are very fortunate to be able to publish such a powerful story, and we hope you will find it as enthralling as we do. Keep checking with us for updates as we progress through this project. You can find us on just about all social media platforms. 

Thanks.