Once upon a time on the Bowery
Talking Heads, 1977
This was their first weekend as a foursome at CBGB’s, after adding Jerry Harrison, before they started recording the LP “Talking Heads: 77.”
The best sci-fi landscapes are those that don’t seem to be anywhere at all — and yet there they are, fully plottable on a Google map. Some day soon, these imagined places will likely be pure computer-generated fantasy, but for now, the Earth’s emptiest places still do the trick: A far-flung stretch of Utah desert is the home planet of Mr. Spock, Tunisia the stand-in for Tatooine, the Hawaiian jungle the basis for lush Pandora, and the center of the Earth lies just 750 feet down in a New Mexico cave.
There’s something about visiting any film location that brings about a sort of cognitive dissonance. You are at once in a real place and a fictional one. Science-fiction movies go one step further, imposing an added layer of alternate reality on the places where they were shot. Filmmakers face a quandary: They must rely on real-world exteriors to tell stories about imagined or physically inaccessible places. For this reason, they tend to seek out backdrops that are empty enough to fill up with exotic fiction and alienated protagonists. There are the vaguely futuristic dystopian worlds of films like “Fahrenheit 451,” “12 Monkeys,” “Omega Man,” “Blade Runner” and “Planet of the Apes.” Or ordinary urban landscapes that serve as a jumping-off point for a tumble down a time-space rabbit hole — like “The Matrix” or this weekend’s “TRON: Legacy.” In fact, it’s interesting to note that the original “TRON” had almost no physical location at all — just a handful of brief shots of a boring office building in downtown Los Angeles, the sci-fi city par excellence. Not only is L.A. Ray Bradbury’s town, it’s nondescript enough to feel universal and lacks recognizable landmarks that might pull the viewer out of the fantasy. And that’s the key: For the necessary suspension of disbelief to take root in the sci-fi audience, time and place are rendered nebulous. Which is why pulling back the curtain and actually visiting these odd places is such nerdy fun.
No Wave Punks, Bowery Summer 1978
They were sitting just like this when I walked out of CBGB's. Me: “Don’t move” They didn’t. L to R: Harold Paris, Kristian Hoffman, Diego Cortez, Anya Phillips, Lydia Lunch, James Chance, Jim Sclavunos, Bradley Field, Liz Seidman.
Hilly Kristal, Bowery 1977
When I used to show people this picture of owner Hilly Kristal, they would ask me “Why did you photograph that guy? He’s not a punk!” Now they know why. None of these pictures would have existed without Hilly Kristal.
Dictators, Bowery 1976
Handsome Dick Manitoba of the Dictators with his girlfriend Jody. I took this shot as a thank you for him returning the wallet I’d lost the night before at CBGB's. He doesn’t like that I tell people he returned it with everything in it.
Ramones, 1977 – never before printed
I loved shooting The Ramones. They would play two sets a night, four nights a week at CBGB's, and I’d be there for all of them. This shot is notable for Johnny playing a Strat, rather than his usual Mosrite. Maybe he’d just broken a string. Love that hair.
Patti Smith + Ronnie Spector, 1979
May 24th – Bob Dylan Birthday show – Patti “invited” everyone at that night’s Palladium show on 14th Street down to CBGB's to celebrate Bob Dylan’s birthday. Here, Patti and Ronnie are doing “Be My Baby.”
Every Sunday, Salon presents a feature from Trazzler spotlighting surprising travel stories from across the globe. Unexpected discoveries and strange, wonderful treasures are condensed into slide shows that entertain as much as they educate.