Blondie’s New York
Blondie’s New York brings New York City in the 1970s back. Explaining Blondie’s breakthrough Parallel Lines album explains it all. All the grime, crime, smells and sounds come rushing back. If you don’t feel NYC in the 70’s while watching the Smithsonian Channel’s Blondie’s New York you weren’t there.
I was only there every now and again. Growing up in Greenwich, Connecticut and going to a prep school where half the kids came from NYC (Choate) means I visited “the city” frequently. Not as frequently as I told my friends, much more often than my parents knew and my visits extended during four years at Vassar College.
Vassar and Greenwich are both an hour’s train ride into the city. Trains are the great human ferries hoarding, moving and spilling people into the city daily, hourly and crushed. The city was broke, crime infested and knocked down and almost out in the seventies. Punk rock, out-of-control graffiti, vacant buildings and crime created a Germany after the war sense of hostility, fear and panic.
But the ART was amazing. In a rat-hole bar incomprehensibly named CBGB Talking Heads, the Ramones and Blondie were born, learned their craft and spit into the world’s placid slack face. Debbie Harry and Chris Stein play snippets from a mixing board until Debbie insists the music stop. Each piece of the 20-million selling album tells several stories simultaneously.
One story is the Band’s evolution. Hit Maker Mike Chapman infused the band’s music and songs with disco, blues, and pop. The band’s story is New York City’s story too. I remember the New York Post’s giant “Ford to NYC Drop Dead” headline, a headline sure to mean the city was bankrupt in more ways than one. Somehow Ed Koch and Company pulled the city’s irons out of the fire. Time went on, the city survived and amazing art happened.
In the end, there is our story. Even those only slightly and occasionally touched by the city’s spirit, art, and random collisions were and are changed by the experience, memories, and dreams of New York City in the seventies.
What’s your NYC in the seventies story? Share in comments or email martin(at)Curagami.com.