Author: Various (22 authors and illustrators collaborate for 9 vignettes)
Title: CBGB OMFUG
Genre: Graphic novel
Publication Date: 2010
Number of Pages: 112p
Geographical Setting: New York City (the Bowery)
Time Period: 1970’s, present day, the future
Series (If applicable): n/a
Plot Summary: Through nine separate vignettes, the history and lore of the legendary, mythical, pivotal, incredibly dirty, and defunct Lower East Side punk rock club is examined and explained. CBGB’s was ground zero for the mid-70’s NYC punk rock scene. Artists that would emerge from CBGB’s include Ramones, Blondie, Patti Smith, and Talking Heads, as well as lesser-known, yet highly influential acts, such as Television, the Heartbreakers, the Dead Boys, and the Dictators. Varying in time period, some of the stories use the club as a main character, while others use it merely as a backdrop or meeting place. The common theme running throughout the book is that of CBGB’s as a fertile haven for inspiration, community, discovery, expression, freedom, individuality, and lots of sex, drugs, and rock and roll.
Subject Headings: Punk rock music, New York City—nightclubs, 1970’s, Artists, Drugs and alcohol, Rebellion, Nostalgia, Nonconformity, Antisocial behavior, Self discovery, Youth, Fandom.
Appeal: Breakneck, fast-paced, relentless, atmospheric, edgy, flamboyant, gritty, hard-edged, humorous, impassioned, magical, idealized, romanticized, nostalgic, sarcastic, sensual, artsy, bohemian, punk, vivid, inspirational, mythic, sexually explicit, strong language, urban, colorful, informal, passionate, witty, hedonistic, rebellious, reflective, street-smart, rowdy, energetic, fun, aggressive, joyous, enigmatic, self-aggrandizing, loud.
3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Energetic, passionate, enigmatic
Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):
3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:
Please Kill Me: the Uncensored History of Punk edited by Legs McNeill and Gillian McCain
This is an oral history of the New York punk scene from its infancy in the early 1970’s to its slow death in the early 1980’s strung together by interviews with the people who were there and making things happen. The people who are still alive, anyway. Interviewees (many of whom are portrayed in CBGB) include Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Lou Reed, and members of the Ramones, the Stooges, New York Dolls, Television, Blondie and many more artists and other scenesters. This is a great read for fans of ribald accounts of debauchery and degeneracy.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx is Burning: 1977, Baseball, Politics, and the Battle For the Soul of a City by Jonathan Mahler
In the 1970’s, large Northern cities found themselves broke, decaying, crime-ridden, and desperate. None had it worse than New York. The tumultuous year of 1977 is examined here; a year that included Son of Sam, the Blackout, punk rock, Studio 54 and disco, and ruthless political battles. What is the conduit Mahler uses to examine and piece these events together? — the World Series winning Yankees, of course.
Love Goes to Buildings on Fire: Five Years in New York That Changed Music Forever by Will Hermes
Sure, New York had the punk thing happening in the mid-1970’s, but during those years the city also witnessed the birth of hip-hop, disco, and salsa as well as playing host to fertile jazz and avant-garde/minimalist music scenes. Here is an examination of those years, where the music seemed to get better as the urban blight grew worse.
3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:
My Brain Hurts: Vol. One by Liz Baille
This graphic novel series chronicles a group of gay,teenage New York punks making out, drinking beer, getting arrested, and flexing their gay activism muscles. I include this as there was no mention in CBGB as to how entangled the NYC punk scene was with the seedier side of gay culture on Manhattan at the time (many a near destitute musician made rent by moonlighting as “chickens”, as in a homosexual prostitute who may not necessarily be gay but will do x for money. Dee Dee Ramone has talked extensively about this topic [see: ‘53rd and 3rd’ by the Ramones], as well as others).
What We Do Is Secret by Kief Hillbery
Hollywood 13-year-old punk and gay hustler Rockets Redglare must come to terms with the suicide of his idol/guru Darby Crash, lead singer of the Germs (circa 1980). This book is the closest equivalent to the seediness and nihilism that personified the L.A. punk scene in the late 70’s and early 80’s (as far as fiction goes.)
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
While this book is the farthest thing from the seediness that CBGB and the Lower Eastside personified, it is an excellent portrait of the feeling of freedom, possibility, and wonder that a night out in the big city can give a person as they find themselves on the cusp of adulthood and independence. Even for rich kids from New Jersey.
Tags: aggressive, artsy, atmospheric, bohemian, Breakneck, colorful, edgy, energetic, enigmatic, fast paced, flamboyant, fun, gritty, hard-edged, hedonistic, humorous, idealized, impassioned, informal, inspirational, joyous, loud., magical, mythic, nostalgic, passionate, punk, rebellious, reflective, relentless, romanticized, rowdy, sarcastic, self-aggrandizing, sensual, sexually explicit, street-smart, strong language, urban, vivid, witty