Why CBGB Is Better Off Dead
CBGB, the legendary Bowery closet that launched the careers of such punk icons as the Ramones and Patti Smith, might be coming back from the dead.
Gothamist’s Jen Carlson on Wednesday hinted on “good authority” that the music club is in the market for new a Manhattan space. However, the noticeably unspecific blog post smelled of empty rumor according to the New York Observer, which yesterday called Carlson’s report “so vague it could mean literally anything.”
CBGB closed in 2006, and its owner, Hilly Kristal, died of lung cancer the following year. The Kristal family still owns CBGB’s name, and most of the beer-soaked memorabilia that was left behind when it shut down is still reportedly holed up in “a basement somewhere.”
The question is, does anyone outside of the Hot Topic set really want to see a CBGB knockoff sprout up somewhere else in the city? Sure, it would have the CBGB name, and if the designers added enough Agnostic Front stickers and ripped the doors off the bathrooms, it might even look like the original, but who cares? The resulting venue would be no more CBGB than the Trump Taj Mahal is the actual Taj Mahal.
The energy and novelty that made CBGB what it was vanished from the city’s rock scene decades ago, and while the spirit of the club–and the music it spawned–definitely lives on, attempts to capture that spirit in a touristy reboot would be at best futile and at worst insulting.
A great punk club, like the bands it hosts, should know when to call it quits.