Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Halloween part one

Halloween, like everything else in this city used to be a lot more fun. There were always parties, like the one I saw Steven Kramer (the first artist to show at the Fun Gallery and later a member of the Contortions) fall off a window ledge while doing the old soft shoe-- he landed on the roof of an abandoned building several stories below having shattered both legs and his face. There were great gigs-- usually Iggy or the Cramps played (one year they did a double bill together at the old Academy Of Music, in the same building that housed Julians Pool Hall, now torn down to make way for NYU dorms that look like they were designed in post-WWII Eastern Bloc style) Take the Halloween parade for example. When it started out it was just a bunch of crazy drag queens on acid. It had no set route, it would wind through the through the streets of the West Village, stopping at bars and bodegas for booze, going every which way until the paraders were to drunk to walk and then kind of peter out. Now it's run by the city, a million mall refugees from the suburbs show up pushing their $2500 baby strollers violently through the crowd, yelling into their cell phones trying to find each other. The parade itself goes straight up Sixth Ave. and is full of smarmy politicians smiling their greasy smiles (there's an election coming up!) and the streets are full of cops just waiting to bust heads. Pop open a beer can and you're hauled off to the pokey. Not much fun at all, just another reason to stay in an watch TV. I stopped going out on Halloween in the early 90's, usually leaving town for New Orleans where they still knew how to throw a good party-- but we know what happened to New Orleans.
Having spent a good portion of my life hanging out on the stoops of New York City I still find it a thrill to own my very own stoop. And despite it all, I still love the idea of Halloween. So my wife decided to combine the two, and now for the sixth year we will spend Halloween sitting on our stoop as I watch my wife and friends give out ridiculously overstuffed bags of Halloween treats. The above photos are from last year.
Halloween past has also produced some great records. Good rock'n'roll thrives on novelty, and Halloween being an ancient pagan ceremony probably has the same roots as rock'n'roll so they go great together. Here's a few favorite Halloween discs for your pleasure.
First some great guitar instrumentals with a Halloween theme:
the Ventures- The Bat (notice the similarity to the Frantics' Werewolf)
on the R&B side, here's an odd one-- Bill Dogget's Monster Bash
Now here's Bo Diddley's rarest single, and the only one I don't own an original copy of (anyone got a 45 or 78 to sell or trade):
like all of Bo's Checker sides, it's great. On the rockabilly shelf, I've always loved this one by Jackie Morningstar-- Rockin' In The Graveyard
and also this here one- Rod Willis' The Cat.
Good one, no?
Brian Walker's Trick Or Treat is a peculiar disc, he truly sounds insane. Speaking of insane, it wouldn't be Halloween without Hasil Adkins, here's his version of Haunted House.
Another guy who like the Haze, I had out to my old WFMU radio show was Jack Starr who not only cut great rockabilly and garage records but made his own horror movies, now sadly lost. Here's one that has aspects of all three--Halloween Party.
Some more great records-- Freddie & the Hitchhikers-- Sinners is one of that rare genre, rockabilly records with theramin on them. Another must for your Halloween bash is Gary Warren's classic Werewolf. A good doo-wop side is the Symbols- Do The Zombie.
Must not forget Screamin' Jay Hawkins. This one has one of the best lyrics of all time-- "I long so much to be/the way I was before I was me". It's called I Hear Voices.
One last record, a bit corny but not without charm-- Casper & the Ghosts' Rockin' Round The Tombstone.
I guess the above photos need some captions so I'll put 'em here. Top- Screamin' Jay Hawkins, not sure who took this one. 2nd from top: Cute kids from down the block. 3rd down: Danny Fields and Legs McNeil man the treats basket. 4th down: Legs compares costumes with Space Kid. Bottom: Tyke with Slut costume and friends.


Anonymous said...

The great thing about being Legs is that he don't need no costume on Halloween!


The Hound said...

That's actually a large black woman in a Legs McNeil costume.....

roscoe said...

"who you goin' as?"

The Hound said...

naomi cambell

J.D. Hughes said...

I miss the stoops almost as much as being able to drink beer on them.

roscoe said...

"the hound said...
naomi cambell"


Let's Hear It For The Orchestra

Let's Hear It For The Orchestra
copyright Hound Archive