Flowers from a New York City trashcan
Dreaming - New York Junk (Tarbeach Records)
"The poet's gut reaction is to search his very soul..." -Dee Dee Ramone
"The Gutter Angels up in Heaven/ looking down upon us all/Bless the homeless/Bless the dope fiends/Bless the sidewalks where they fall”. -Puma Perl
Covid Sunday, diggin' through old boxes and pulling out stacks of magazines and letters and relics from a long gone and probably mercifully half forgotten, stinky basement, punk past.
In the '90s, Tim Yo from "Maximum Rocknroll" kept railing against the evil forces of fake "Alternative" TM corporate rock, and the strategic, intentional infestation and infiltration of our D.I.Y. counterculture underground, by make a buck weasels and phony, assembly line bands. Sal from Electric Frankenstein warned us about the Anti-Rock Conspiracy-relentless media mergers and social engineering narrative managers buying up the little labels, distributors, radio stations, and venues and shutting out and silencing feral, dissenting, outsider voices of real rebellion and discontent.
"Flipside" was our juvie-punk bible, hipping all us nobody scuzz-lords to all the tiny, real rocknroll bands like Motorcycle Boy, the Hangmen, the Humpers, Leaving Trains, and the Waldos. All the best writers, all the best bands. If there was still a contemporary print-media music press with that kinda spirit in the USA, New York Junk would be the current cover stars.
They are a little band, with a lot of style and soul, who still remember how to make a big, heartfelt, emotional noise in the defiantly belligerent tradition of the Heartbreakers, Blondie, Dead Boys and Richard Hell. Everything I miss about dirty ole NYC appears to be gone, now-Freebeing, Gem Spa, Trash & Vaudeville, Enzs, Continental, Sounds, Lou Reed, Jim Carroll, Willie Deville, the Rivingston Street Art Park, See/Hear, the Pyramid, CBGB's...it's sad as fuck. Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye, goodbye. NY Junk are one of the last standing monuments to Downtown Rocknroll.
The core trio of NY Junk, Joe Sztabnik, Cynthia Ross, and Gary Barnett, are sometimes joined onstage by Jeff Ward, one of the most relevant, savvy, beat influenced writers and cult novelists of our generation. He was once a member of an extremely promising and influential garage glam band in the tradition of Thee Hypnotics or Lords of the New Church, called Gunfire Dance, who broke up before they were discovered by the right label or producer.
Talented songsmith, and ex Dragon, Joe Sztabnik, was a confidante and collaborator of Johnny Thunders and Dee Dee. Cynthia Ross was a significant muse and advisor to Stiv Bators; the baby mama of much loved drum hero, Billy Rogers; the brains behind B-Girls; and guiding light to all the young bands, and even a childhood friend of Steven Leckie, considered by many as one of rocknroll's greatest frontmen.
I never met Cynthia when I lived in Manhattan - she was busy raising a family when I was runnin' around, but her poetry is so poignant and full of pathos and passion and all the way alive, it always, always moves me. It'll give ya goose bumps, even bring a tear, it's powerful and gutsy stuff. I can't wait for her books. She's also in Electrajets, who made one of the best rabbit warrior psychedelic revolution rock records since the heyday of old T Rex or Syd Barrett. It's also available from Tarbeach Records.
Most of the time, in this scary, rapid fire, accelerated rat race world, we never even get to know the people in our neighborhood, we just glimpse each other in passing, but soul baring music and angsty, from the heart prose can make us feel a unity or alliance with people we never even met in real life. It's inspiring how Cynthia still makes cool stuff happen, even in the shadows of corporate-fascism and the mysterious death plague. When I read her words, I usually feel a kinship with her-I know where she's comin' from, I believe her, I can always feel it.
The NY Junk are gritty, damaged, bravely persevering, thoughtful, and sentimental, hardcore rocknroll survivors of the original downtown art ghetto '70s scene. B-Girls and Dragons shared history with the Clash, Viletones, Thunders, and the Dead Boys. Cynthia was often the uncredited power behind the prince, idol making action shaker, but here and now, she is still laying down the boss sound, and they (the band) say their thing with unflinching fearlessness and revealing intimacy.
NY Junk Mainman, Joe Sztabnik, will remind some of Lou Reed and he actually co wrote one of my all-time favorite songs with Dee Dee: "Poison Heart". Ya gotta love these mostly unknown dark horses and diehards, the lesser-knowns with the stamina and dedication to keep perfecting their craft even when most of the world is distracted by manufactured shit.
The NY Junk ain't quitters-they can never quit. The art bleeds out of 'em. I've always had a deeply abiding, empathy and affinity, for path-finding, progenitor pioneers, who perhaps never received as much mainstream fanfare, cash and prizes, as some of their big name headlining former colleagues, but they quietly continue to compose and create, in style, or out. There is something quite graceful and dignified about the way NY Junk modestly carry the torch for their fallen family and friends and the values of the true and independent rocknroll subculture.
Their songs pulse with both the sizzling slow burn and menacing urban energy of restless old after dark - the vanishing landmarks and phantom friends. They are hopelessly imprinted with the golden memories of long gone galleries, cool-ass record stores, dirty after hours dives, creepy hotels, and sleazy punk boutiques, haunted by the forever fabled dead lovers, corner stoop comrades, songs, and culture they helped inspire, invent, promote and uplift, but they are clearly rejoicing in the present beauty and time that remains.
Frequently, art made by the ones who ain't in it for money and prestige, who labor long in complete obscurity, is way more personal, deeper, more resonating and rippling than the big-machine name brands with the hungry lawyers and ambitious showbiz wives-more real and true and relatable.They recorded their latest, hotly anticipated, postcard from the edge in Prague-a seven song EP on red vinyl, called, "Dreaming" and it was released officially on July 23, available from Tarbeach. It is sure to please ardent gutter punk aficionados of all ages. Long live NY Junk!