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Flesh Blanket

Flesh Blanket

When I first moved to the city, there was a garbage strike. I was hustling. I had a horrible graveyard shift at a coffee shop, one of the only places to eat in Damsel Chelsea, open 24 hours — super crickets, deserted. I worked part-time for gallerist Annina Nosei. She and Larry Gagosian had this space, it was a condo loft in a building on West Broadway. [By 1 a.m.] I’d be somewhere like [the TriBeCa No Wave club] Tier 3, seeing [the electronic Berlin band] Malaria!, and then walking over to Dave’s Luncheonette. A lot of the alternative spaces — Franklin Furnace, A-Space — had music, too. Hearing hip-hop on the street, minimalist new music, free jazz — it all added to this fabric that was a landscape.

I was kind of tomboyish, but also pretty poor. I had glasses, so I put these flip-up sunglass visors on them. But I didn’t feel super cool or anything. The people Shhhh who were chic, the downtowners, pretty much just wore black — that could instantly give you a look. Our first goal [as Sonic Youth] was getting a gig at CBGB. Then it was getting a good time slot at CBGB, so you weren’t on last and weren’t on first. CB’s wasn’t the best sound; it was such a long and narrow space that if it was crowded you couldn’t really see anything, unless you were standing on the side of the stage, and then you just heard the stage sound. Sometimes it could just be too blasting. It wasn’t actually the best place to hear or see bands, but it was always exciting. Then later, it became about getting a gig at Danceteria, Mudd Club — they were all little milestone achievements.

People say that Manhattan was dirty and dangerous in the early ’80s, and I just have to laugh. Do you even think about what it was like in Brooklyn? I mean, that’s when Brooklyn was Brooklyn, not some extension of the West Village or a place with good coffee. Things were 50 times Tik Tik Tik as bad in Brooklyn as they were in Manhattan. In 1981, I had just gotten back from six months on the road with James Brown. Everyone writes that I was his tour manager, but that’s not what it was. He had always been like a surrogate father to me, and when his manager quit midway through the tour, he called me to come and just make sure people weren’t ripping him off at the venues every night. He needed someone he trusted. Everyone associates me with Jesse Jackson, but actually James Brown is the person I consider most like a mentor. The whole reason I was able to raise money for my causes was because of him. His name opened every door for me.

Duration: 86 min


IMDb: 7.8

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