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Punk Avenue
Inside the New York City Underground, 1972-1982

Phil Marcade

May 2017


Trade Paper

$15.95 US
($21.99 CAN)
978-1-941110-49-2 | 9781941110492
1-941110-49-5 | 1941110495

26 per carton



Entertainment & Performing Arts

Spring 2017

Title Rights: W

Product Safety: Information Not Available

Published by Three Rooms Press

Punk Avenue: The New York City Underground 1972-1982 is an intimate look at author Paris-born Phil Marcade’s first ten years in the United States where drifted from Boston to the West Coast and back, before winding up in New York City and becoming immersed in the early punk rock scene. From backrooms of Max’s and CBGB’s to the Tropicana Hotel in Los Angeles and back, Punk Avenue is a tour de force of stories from someone at the heart of the era. With brilliant, often hilarious prose, Marcade relays first-hand tales about spending a Provincetown summer with photographer Nan Goldin and actor-writer Cookie Mueller, having the Ramones play their very first gig at his party, working with Blondie’s Debbie Harry on French lyrics for her songs, enjoying Thanksgiving with Johnny Thunders’ mother, and starting the beloved NYC punk-blues band The Senders. Along the way, he smokes a joint with Bob Marley, falls down a mountain, gets attacked by Nancy Spungen’s junkie cat, become a junkie himself, adopts a dog who eats his pot, opens for The Clash at Bond’s Casino, opens a store named Rebop on Seventh Avenue, throws up in some girl’s mouth, talks about vacuum cleaners with Sid Vicious, lives thru the Blackout of 1977, gets glue in his eye, gets mugged at knife point, plays drums with Johnny Thunders’ band Gang War, sets some guy’s attache-case on fire, listens to pre-famous Madonna singing in the rehearsal studio next to his, gets mugged at gun point, O.D.s on heroin, gets saved by a gentle giant named Bill, lives at night… Never sleeps…  A very funny book.

Excerpt from
PUNK AVENUE: Inside the New York City Underground, 1972-1982
by Phil Marcade

Venus of Avenue D
New York, September 1974

The Chelsea Hotel was the most legendary of all the bohemian hotels in New York, having already lodged amongst others: William Burroughs, Henry Miller, Tennessee Williams, Sara Bernhardt, Henry Cartier Bresson, Gregory Corso, Diego Rivera, Edith Piaf, Dennis Hopper, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen and all of the Warhol gang, like Edie Sedgewick, Ultra Violet, and Viva - star of the film Chelsea Girls in 1969 - But also none other than Dylan Thomas, and the other Bob guy who stole his name...

And then, of course, it was also going to be at the Chelsea, a few years later, that Nancy Spungen was going to die.

The Chelsea was really pretty cheap for what you got, I must say. My room was quite old and kind of funky, but pretty large, with high ceilings and two windows on 23rd Street, five stories below. The hotel hallway was filled withpaintings and other artifacts left by the most famous artists who had lived there. The vibe you got let you imagine that some incredible things must have happened there. I really loved the huge white stone staircase and the atmosphere of the corridors, it was quite... magic.

I found a little job right away, working part time in a store that sold reproductions of famous paintings on 7th Avenue. I hardly knew the neighborhood but decided to take a little stroll and have a look around. I didn't have to go far, on the very first night, before hearing what seemed to be "Small Axe" by Bob Marley coming from a bar across 23rd Street. The bar was called Mother's.

I walked in to check it out and was surprised to discover that it wasn't a black band but a bunch of white guys who were playing "Small Axe" so beautifully. Then, when they started to play "These Arms of Mine" by Otis Redding, my mouth just dropped. They were REALLY good and also looked very cool. I sat in front of the stage to listen to them, which was quite easy because there were only about ten people in the room. The singer sounded a bit like a cross between Ben E. King and Van Morrison. He played a leopard skin covered Fender Stratocaster. I asked the waiter what the name of this band was and, checking out his paper because he didn't know himself, he said "Tonight it's... Mink Deville."

Mink Deville—my new favorite band—had just ended their third song, an original number this time, a beautiful tune called "Venus of Avenue D" when I heard somebody shout out behind me "Hey, Flipper! What the fuck you doing here?"

It was Johnny Thunders, what a surprise! He had just walked in with Jerry Nolan, the drummer. It seemed like I had really found the right place. They sat with me and we ordered beers. Johnny started to tell me how the both of them had left the New York Dolls to start a new band with Richard Hell, the bass player from Television. They were calling themselves "The Heartbreakers" and were going to play there a few days later. It was really cool to meet those two again, who now gave me the feeling of being old friends.

Bruce, David, and a few other friends were also renting rooms at the Chelsea and were starting to look for apartments. Omni and Benton, our friends from Provincetown. had a huge loft in Soho where they sold antiques that they brought back from Nepal, every two or three months, and with which they were doing very well. They had money and knew everybody. Being native New Yorkers themselves, and having always adored Bruce and I, they decided to throw a big party whose only purpose was to initiate us to the New York underground scene and to introduce us to everybody. The invites read: "A PARTY TO WELCOME PHILIPPE AND BRUCE TO N.Y.C."

. . .

What an honor. The whole New York underground was there, like Robert Mapplethorpe and Donyale Luna, the gigantic black model, ex-girlfriend of Brian Jones, who kissed me on the forehead as she told me in french "You remind me a little bit of Brian." There must have been about 100 people in this gorgeous loft filled with Nepalese art, and, being there to meet all those intimidating legends, I decided to drink a little to overcome my shyness and be a little more sociable.

I was on my second glass of punch, that I found in a big crystal bowl on the bar, when Omni walked up to me and said "You like the electric punch?"

At that very moment, the entire loft exploded into pink and green bubbles like a huge piece of chewing gum. Shit! There was acid in the punch and I was tripping, now! Talk about being sociable. I stayed hidden in a dark corner, checking my watch every half hour to find that only five minutes had really passed...

So I was tripping on acid, trying to avoid everybody that Bruce and I were there to meet, when around one in the morning, four little skinny guys, or rather, three little skinny guys and one tall one, all with Beatles '65 haircuts and the same black leather jackets, white sneakers and ultra tight jeans, walked in and began to set up their equipment: a drum kit and two amps, in front of the huge window of the loft.

Cool! It was a band! And what a great look they had. The guests gathered around to have a look, which I did too.

They were called The Ramones.

They started to play. They were fabulous and hilarious. Each song was exactly the same as the one before and always started with the bass player yelling "One, two, three, four!" Every number, delivered extremely fast, with roots in rock and bubble gum, was shorter than two minutes, stripped of all guitar solos, played full blast and had for only lyrics their respective titles repeated over and over: "I Don't Wanna Walk Around With You, I Don't Wanna Walk Around With You," etc.. Their music was even more stripped down than Dr. Feelgood's. What a great band! Especially in the middle of all those artsy fartsy and "beautiful people" with long hair and silver boots. They were the next wave for sure, the most anti-hippie band I had ever seen, the future of American rock and roll.

A few years later, having become friends with DeeDee, I told him that story and he said "Yeah, but you know, that party at Omni's was our very first show, even before our first club gig. We didn't know how to play."

Fortunately for them, and us, they never learned!