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Volume 71, Issue 11, Tuesday, September 6, 2005

Life & Arts

CBGB's too vital to be forced out

Stay Sick

Jason Gagnon

Dear Mr. Muzzy Rosenblatt,

I was very disheartened and downright furious at your recent decision to not renew the lease for the national treasure CBGB's. There is no doubt that your group's work with the homeless is admirable, but if you really think that by closing down a legendary nightclub that has aided several decades of cultural progression the Bowery Residents Committee is going to be able to help more needy New Yorkers, you are severely mistaken. 

First off, the BRC doesn't really receive any financial support except from tax dollars and the rent paid by the venue. If you had renewed the club's lease, you would have received double the rent owner Hilly Kristal had previously paid, which would have certainly been a nice chunk of change. But aside from that, with the support of New York's mayor, governor and various other politicians (some leading supporters at the Save CBGB's rally with a Ramones-style chant of "Hey! Ho! We won't go!"), you folks will probably see your funding cut, because you are not listening to the wishes of the community you represent. Heck, Muzzy, it's you versus the entire city of New York. Get over yourself, pal, because as Steven Van Zandt said, you are "not more important than the entire city of New York." 

Obviously you either don't understand the significance of CBGB's or you just don't care. Come on, guy, the dive that you control is featured in commercials for the 2012 Olympic games. Yeah, it's that revered all over the world. This club launched what is probably the most important rock 'n' roll revolution since the Beatles and certainly the most prolific to ever come out of America -- punk rock. The bands and artists who got their start thanks to Kristal have become international icons (The Ramones, Blondie and Talking Heads, among others) and others like Patti Smith have been honored with cultural awards from other countries because of the impact they have had on the world of music. None of this would have happened without the existence of CBGB's. 

The countless supporters of the club like Van Zandt have rallied together to meet every single one of your demands to keep the club open. You have rejected their offer and not stated specifically why. This silly ordeal looks like it stems from a personal grudge you have with Kristal. If that is the case, then why punish the world for the sake of your own ego? There are plenty of available buildings where you can house the homeless, but if CBGB's ultimately loses this battle and has to relocate, it just won't be the same. 

Why do you think the street just a few yards from the club was the one the city decided to rechristen Joey Ramone Place? No one is giving up this fight, so be prepared to become one of the most hated men not only in New York but in the world of rock 'n' roll. What's your next move?

Well, Muzzy, if you won't reverse your decision then I suggest you take some advice from the Ramones: "You gotta go go go go goodbye."

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