September 11, 2007

“a place where the imperfect could create genius”

If you’ve ever seen New York rocker Jesse Malin in concert, you know that he can tell one heck of a story. He fills in small details and shades his characters in a way that very few other storytellers can replicate. I greatly enjoyed reading his heartfelt tribute in the current issue of NYC’s Village Voice about the late great Hilly Kristal, patriarch of the legendary punk rock club CBGB.

Malin writes in part:

I knew Hilly for more than 27 years, but had very few exchanges with him. I first played the club when I was 12 years old on one of those Monday audition nights. Nobody cared that we were underage. We didn’t pass the audition, but I would eventually play there at least a hundred times. I could never tell if he liked me or not. Then one day, he walked over to the bar on an empty Tuesday night and bought me a beer. We spoke about his time there, and he told me he liked the bands that came back to visit after they had made it big. He told me he liked the Talking Heads because they lifted their own equipment. Maybe he liked me because I was lifting other bands’ equipment with my ‘Man with Van’ schlep rock job.

In the mid-1990s, we were neighbors on what is known as the safest block in New York, East 3rd Street between First and Second avenues (next-door to the Hells Angels). We would occasionally wave to each other from across the way as he’d be walking home with his black leather briefcase. One night, I ran into Hilly at a party at Don Hill’s nightclub: He had told me that he’d just gotten back from Beijing, China. I tried to visualize this Bowery cowboy in the great Red East. I figured he deserved to have some fun, and what else was he going to do with all that T-shirt money?

Read the entire thing here.

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  • Fabulous bit! Thanks for finding and sharing. I love love love Jesse Malin!

    Anonymous — September 11, 2007 @ 7:04 pm

  • we saw jesse malin a few months ago here in miami on a stormy weeknight… very few people were there, typical of miami…and it was a shame because it was a helluva show. i was kinda unfamiliar with him but so pleasantly surprised… jesse malin is an amazing storyteller.. a great showman. love him!!

    serena — September 11, 2007 @ 7:11 pm

  • I enjoyed reading the Voice piece. Thanks for the tip.

    Brad — September 11, 2007 @ 9:43 pm

  • Thanks for posting this piece. I remeber Jesse from his D Generation days – although I have never seen them, I’ve been to CBGB a bunch of times (I grew up in NY) and I must say that there was nothing like it. I went out for my 21st birthday there! What was better was when they had the CB’s restaurant right next door, with awesome couches and serving pizza and drinks. I bought both of my CBGB t-shirts there, so it bothered me when I started seeing them pop up at Urban Outfitters and other retail joints. Anyways, thanks for posting – brought back some great memories!

    Joe — September 12, 2007 @ 3:28 am

  • ah, so many memories, hardcore sunsays, great and terrible shows, i’ve either played or saw there. Hil was always quite a stoic character. He should have bought the building when he had the chance way back when.Thanks for the post. Jesse is quite the rocker seen him in small to medium venues.

    daviso — September 12, 2007 @ 12:53 pm

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
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