Tuesday, August 13, 2013

New York Niggers Pt 3 – End of the 70’s – Hang on to Your Dreams

in which we almost make it, but just like Ziggy Stardust, I have to break up the band, and hang on to my self.

Timeline as written in 1986

Hang on to your dreams is one of Leo’s lines in Headliner and hang on to my self is what I had to do once this chapter was finsihed. By X-mas of 79 my financial situation finally stabilized thanks to working full time at T&V. Back then, I could pay my rent with the salary of one week, which was $325 when I started at Trash. I decided to get a new guitar. Very much still inspired and influenced by Leo, I opted for a Gibson Les Paul Special, double cutaway in cherry red. I went up to 48th St where all the music stores were on one block and traded in my 62 Telecaster. It did have some minor problems and I wanted to have the more powerful sounding P90 pickups which was more in line with the sound and visual esthetics that we were aiming for. The concept of vintage guitars didn’t exist in our heads back then. Now, of course I regret not having either one of those beauties.

The author with  62 Telecaster. Iolsta Hat (vocals) and George Darrow (drums). summer 79
Mattus, my former communarde, who accompanied me to Paris, visited in the summer of 79 and describes a gig at the ranch in the voice of his the alter-ego KWINI, published in Hollow Skai’s NO Fun fanzine and later in Wir waren Helden Fuer Einen Tag, the wild action during the second set around 3:00 AM, " the band jumped into the audience which eventually ended up on the floor in a wild heap". During my research for this blog I saw some pictures from a contact sheet in the No Fun zine and upon request I found out that Mattus still has about 300 negatives from his NY trip. We'll try to digitize them and show them in a special post. The Helden book also contains excerpts of my own letters back to Germany from that time, which I will have to translate for another post. Now we need to find some live recordings and film of the band, that do exist somewhere.

Cover of Wir Waren Helden fuer einen Tag

By x-mas Victor had left the band, maybe success didn't come fast enough or he wanted to return to his jazz roots. Different managers appeared and disappeared and in a last ditch effort we shortened the name to NYN. With Victor, a great musician and charismatic frontman we were highly energetic and had the most powerful line-up with considerable potential . We had good songs, a good following and we could've made it. Leo went back to become the main singer and I was also singing more since I was writing more and more songs. Eventually Jerry (bass) also left. We spend a quiet New Years eve at our place on 10th St drinking $5 Andre champagne with Iolsta Hat.

Polaroid, new years eve 1979/80, the author, Iolsta Hat, The Pope.
1980 on the dot.

In early 1980 we did a few photo shoots at Alex Kayser and Caty Monnier's loft and got ready for a flurry of shows.

Author, polaroid by Alex Kayser.

 NYN poster. Leo, Dieter, Jerry, Wolf 1. Photo Alex Kayser

Woodblock print, Dieter Runge 2006/12

Polaroid postcard. Pics Alex Kayser.

180 rotated

Selfportrait, oil on Velvet 2007.

The cigarette in this picture is probably one of the last I smoked. I got a heavy case of bronchitis in the heavy New York winter, after burning the candle on both ends for so long. After each drag I was coughing for five minutes. Since I had to sing for all these gigs that were coming up, I just had to stop. Besides smoking one or two cigarrettes late at night in a club for a year or so, I never went back and always considered stopping to be one of the best things in my life and the beginning of a big turnaround.

The show with the Cramps at Irving Plaza in fact was in February 1980, which I just discovered, looking at the date on the East Village Eye cover. The EVE was a more underground alternative to the Village Voice.

 East Village Eye cover March 80.

East Village Eye review.

By 1979 it became apparent across the globe that something was brewing in New York and magazines from all over the planet were reporting on the developping scene. Cult tried to establish itself as the German equivalent of Interview magazine. They published an article about me in their NY issue that included pictures and some of my writing. For the first time I discovered how the media distorts and blows up the truth for sensation, yes, quite lame when it happens to you.

Cult magazine cover, upper half.

Page in Cult Magazine.
Translation of headline: Manhattan High, or Dieter from Hannover survives in New York.
Oh, yeah, sometime in early 1980 I shaved my head after an experimental haircut didn't quite come out the way I had imagined. Now, it seems to me, that this represents a cut in my life and a new chapter was about to start.

T&V add. The author as mannequin.

This Trash & Vaudeville ad appeared in the Village Voice, Soho Weekly and East Village Eye for quite a while. I had come up with the idea to pose with one of our mannequins and Gene, a co-worker and photographer took the picture.

Leo wasn't crazy about me writing and wanting to sing more songs, even though they were generally liked and Dresden 45 was probably our most popular live song. I think he wanted to have control of the band, which I understood since he was the founding member. We had been good partners for almost year of intense music and living together. Yet, I was developping and slowly coming out from under Leo's wings and being in a band in which I couldn't express my self was not attractive. After deliberating for a while, I finally quit, which Leo was not too happy about. It was the end of the New York Niggers, a fantastic adventure, that had catapulted me into the heart of the NY scene. Leo and I never fought, it was just over. Leo eventually started another band, a three piece, that was probably the best for his personal ambitions, but never created the excitment of NYN. I had to move out of our shared appartment. We sometimes ran into each other but quickly drifted apart. Below a picture of our last gig at Max's. Classic, the bald white boy between two black dudes. It represents my first year crashcourse not only into New York, but also black American culture. I will always be grateful for everything Aid Haid and Leo Faison and everybody else enabled me to experience.

Last NYN show. Max's Kansas City, spring 1980. The author is bald wearing 50's sharkskin pants and vintage silk shirt. Working at T&V shows.

Funny, the tables in front of the stage. Sometimes they were moved. In the audience was the owner of T&V, Ray Goodman, with glasses  and Stephanie a co-worker, who not only turned me on to Hound Dog Taylor, but to Salsa and Afro Cuban music in general. She took me to see Hector Lavoe, Ray Barreto and many of the other of the hot Latin bands playing in New York at the time. My musical education was broadening and intensifying and more adventures were lurking around the corner.


Next Friday I will have a pop-up art show with my yoga inspired wood block prints at Yoga Hawaii. just scroll past the Mrs. Hawaii ad. Come if you can. From punk rock to yoga, as the story unfolds in my life and here in this blog. It is all connected.


While I was cooling down from my b-day party the other day, cruising the (you)tube I came across this fantastic early Ramones (1974 at CBGB's) clip.

In this one you can see the iconography already there just a year later, the banner in back, and Johnny switched sides with Dee Dee, as it was going to be from then on. Just amazing.

Another year later at Max's. Great quality. The Ramones were a quintessential American band combining a comic book sensibility, The Beach Boys with the realities of the late 70's from a Queens NY perspective, the only true New Yorkers of all the CB's bands. Just listen to Happy Family. The Ramones were pure bubblegum in their great songs, of which they had many. Their covers of Do You Wanna Dance and Let's Dance points to their own desire to create pop hits.

The New Year's eve show at London's Rainbow showed the Ramones at their peak. Just one song after the other. 

The documentary  End of the Century is on the tube too, but be forwarned, it gets really sad at the end. It is great though, especially the beginning, desolate 70's New York, CBGB's, etc.

Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers at Max's. This reperesents well the athmosphere and energy at the place and time.

A 2007 article in the New Yorker about then manager of Trash & Vaudeville Jimmy Web.

New York Latin Music, Fania All Stars, Tito Puente, Conjunto Classico.
This was also the music of the streets in the East Village.

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