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 rich, the famous, the powerful, the fabulously talented … so hard for mere mortals to mingle with in life, so easy to linger with in death. Making a pilgrimage to a famous grave can be an odd experience, particularly when it isn’t where you might expect. Who would think to look for James Joyce and Jorge Luis Borges in Switzerland — or F. Scott Fitzgerald among the strip-mall hell of suburban D.C.? Death just happens. Those on the brink of death can get caught unawares, left to spend eternity in a place they scarcely knew or were just passing through, or be forcibly brought back home by family after a long escape (like poor Charlie Parker, who ended up back in Kansas against his wishes).
Irony, apparently, isn’t just for the living. While Fitzgerald’s gravestone is an austere afterthought, the man who wrote about turning to dirt on someone’s boot soles, Walt Whitman, commissioned an expensive granite mausoleum before his death. It’s no surprise that the poet spent his final years reworking his magnum opus “Leaves of Grass” for the umpteenth time, but the fact that he did so while also carefully overseeing the construction of his own tomb feels like quite a departure for the man who philosophized about the soul and vowed to “make poems of my body and of mortality.”
As in life, after death, everyone seems to want a piece of what fame can bring. Cities fight over the remains of native sons. A few years back, a Philly Poe scholar went so far as to encourage local fans to “drive down I-95 and appropriate a body from a certain Baltimore cemetery” to set things right. Seville, Spain and Santo Domingo, D.R., have been sniping for centuries over which city’s cathedral houses Christopher Columbus’ bones. There are certain places, like the cemeteries of Paris or Hollywood, so jampacked with dead VIPs that a whole tourism industry and series of rituals has sprung up around visiting the tombs.
Contemplating a grave certain doesn’t provide the carefully curated experience of a person’s life that meandering through his home might. It can, however, reveal a messier truth about how he is remembered and honored by people living today. Have you ever felt inspired to visit the grave of someone you knew only from his or her life’s work? Have you discovered a famous person’s place of rest in an unexpected place? Share your macabre travel tales in the comments. You can find more travel-worthy cemeteries and graves on Trazzler.
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.