Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My favorite Youtube video of the moment.

These never get old....

I can watch these 100 times in a row and they just keep getting better and better.

On the Subject of Owls.....

One of my prized possessions. My mother got this custom made for me while overseas on vacation when I was a little kid. I've always liked Owls and the qualities which they display; Wisdom, Patience etc. I think everyone has a totem animal that they kind of feel an affinity towards and which maybe represents some of their own characteristics or ones they wish they had....mine would be an Owl.

This is my Owl tattoo, I think it represents me and my love of Owl style well. It was done by Josh Howard at Chicago Tattoo. Yes my fly is slightly undone.

Chicago Hardcore Shows of The Past......

This show still makes me salty...the reason why? The area around the venue is a densely packed residential area and it's nearly IMPOSSIBLE to find a parking space. One of the main reasons I wanted to go was to get there early and see Guns Up!. As I circled around the venue I could hear Guns Up! start to play.....FUCK! I went into hyper mode, circling the block and searching for any little space in which to cram my car, hop out, and run to the venue. Every time I circled around the damn place they'd be playing an awesome song that I wold have wanted to mosh to. It was like a cruel form of torture. So I finally snag a spot, and am speed walking towards the venue. I still hear Guns Up! playing so I'm all like "Yea!, I can still catch a few songs, and it'll all be worth it." I walked in the door as the band was literally hitting it's last note. So fucking salty! Why were they even opening in the first place? This was at like the height of their popularity as well.

To compound all the things going wrong, up next was some really weird band called "Sharks vs. Sailors". All I remember is that it was a fat dude with a bad voice and a little guitar (He may or may not have been wearing a hawaian shirt as well) and another chick playing drums or something. I think it was a two man band. They were totally out of place on the bill and they played an awkward set to all of 5 indie rock dorks who stayed in the room while everyone else fled outside to escape the sounds of this wretched band. One thing that was cool about "The Waiting Room" as a venue, was that it really brought a sense of community to the Chicago Hardcore scene. It almost seemed like it was a little secret that only we were privy to. The hangout factor was awesome at these shows. I remember it was a hot May evening and the sun was started to go down and all the kids were just hanging outside talking and joking around. I would grab a tallboy or a 40 from the  Liquor store around the corner (Be careful, those sneaky fucks in there like to try to shortchange people who aren't regulars, count your change before you leave the counter, I busted them twice trying to do this to me). I'd bring it back and stash it halfway down the alley alongside the venue, then I'd go back there periodically and guzzle malt beer at my leisure....without drawing unnecessary attention to the venue, from police and residents alike. Crime in Stereo was up next....nothing about them really stood out to me, I just remember them being really melodic and boring. Local favorites Expired Youth took the stage next, and everyone packed into that small room was going nuts, doing the Chicago style side to side in that cramped room diving off the small stage, and singing along at the top of their lungs. Man that stage was perfect for dives from what I remember. Leaving the building after that to have a smoke, I found myself sweaty and satisfied at hearing a set of good, solid, hardcore. I then went to take a little beer break, smoked a little pinner joint in the alley, and resumed socializing.

I should mention that for a long time I was really awkward and had trouble socializing with some of my peers in the hardcore scene. A lot of the times I'd be the weird silent dude in the corner just chilling out drinking a beer. I talked to a select few people, but most of the times I was too socially awkward to really connect to anyone. I was used to going to every show I went to alone, because none of my other friends were even remotely interested in punk rock. I'm glad things have changed for the better now, and I've become a lot more outgoing. The last band of the night was Verse. I know a lot of people love this band honestly I thought it was pretty weak. Modern, melodic hardcore is not my thing. I think this might even qualify as "AmazingCore" but I'm not sure...... I remember lots of singalongs and dives for Verse, but I didn't really get the whole thing. The evening ended on kind of a weird note, but it was still a lot of fun. Wish we had more truly small venues like the Waiting Room, it doesn't get more intimate or high energy than when everyone in the audience is like 10 feet from the band.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Cable Access Psychic

One of my favorite viral videos. Some kook doing "Psychic Readings" on a Cable Access show....people call him up and verbally abuse him, and he just starts saying the most ridiculous shit back at them like "I hope you get your ass bit off by a German Shepard" and all other types of crazy nonsense. Watch the whole thing, it's funny as hell and gets more ridiculous by the minute.

H8 Inc. "Clockwork Misery"

Seeing this band at the fest I went to last weekend made me go and check out their new album "A Clockwork Misery". Holy shit, this album has some of the best material I've heard yet from the band. They changed their sound up a bit from the hard, depressing, sort of experimental grindcorish type stuff of their last couple albums. It's more clean straight forward later Cold as Life flavored, Detroit style hardcore....and it's hard as fucking coffin nails. Some of my favorite tracks include "We Hate the World", "No Soul to Pray", and the updated version of the "Crew Song" that was originally done by Cold As Life. Like most other music today, you can find this on the internet, I would recommend buying it. Trust me, if it wasn't awesome I wouldn't tell you to go out and get it. I'm even more surprised that it came out two years ago in 2008, and NOONE has been talking about it at all. Go to their myspace and listen to "No Soul To Pray, and "We Hate the World".

H8 Inc. Myspace Page

Repos Interview

This is an interview with Joe and Aaron from The Repos that I did awhile back when I was a regular contributor to Aaron's response to the second question is hilarious.

1.Who's in the band and how long have you been around for?


We've been around since 2002.

Aaron: We've been a crew since the early 90's, bro. We didn't start releasing records until 2004, but we talked a lot about what kind of guitars we wanted to save up for in 1997. Man, that was a badass year. We all wore mock turtlenecks and dipped, but not that faggot baggie shit, I'm talking about straight up tobacco. I'm Aaron and I've got the 1 and a half. Over there on drums is Craig and he's got the two and a half, he's not complaining. On geeetar is Joe, and he's got the 3 and a half. Who's got the 10 and a half? Yep, Adam.We have a new album on Youth Attack and it's everything I dreamed it would be. Man, it was a motherfucking struggle to write such heartfelt songs about the crew and all the shit we been through. It's been a rough coupla years, but we're still doing it in the basements and pool halls trying to keep our cred with the new generation, trying to show 'em what we got is REAL. This one show got kinda wild when my man Tiny T showed up with a pound of weed and some Little Kings. We played Electric Funeral over and over again until some pig hassled our buzz by unplugging our power strip. We had the munchies so fucking bad that we traded all our records that are like super rare to the pizza delivery guy from Dominos who had a BBQ pizza and some wings. It was some hardcore shit, but,man, that pizza was real good.

2.I've noticed that your upcoming show on July 1st with Career Suicide
is the first show you've played since October of last year.What have
you guys been doing in the mean time?

Joe: Personally, not a whole lot. Working 50+ hours a week at a job I
absolutely hate, trying to start my own screenprinting business and
dealing with the assorted shitballs life tends to throw at you. I
became seriously depressed and introverted over the past 10 months or
so and did little other than work, go home, get fucked up and sit on
my ass. Bills piled up, projects never got finished and friends
stopped calling. I've made some adjustments to my lifestyle and am
currently attempting to dig myself out of this rut.

3.Do you have plans to release any new material soon?

Joe: Yep, new album is out NOW (might be sold out by the time this goes to
print) and is guaranteed to pound sand right up your unsuspecting
asshole. A lot of shit was involved in the release of this record,
including the master tapes essentially being held without ransom.
Absolutely worth the wait in my opinion.

4.What inspires you to write songs?

Joe: Aaron tells me to write a wicked riff and I do it.

5.Do you think 21+ shows are a good thing or bad thing?

Joe: Personally, I don't like playing them. I'd rather play a house show
than a bar any day. When I was under 21 there weren't too many shows
with age restrictions I wanted to go to, not sure how it is now. I
don't really pay attention and I'm several years removed from being

6.Ever have any bad experiences playing shows?

Joe: Loads, but it's easy to turn them into a good experience with a little
creativity, good friends and a brick.

7.Do you think hardcore and punk rock are synonymous or different
things altogether?

Joe: I think there's a line, yeah. Obviously The Ramones and CockSParrer
are coming from a different place stylistically than the CroMags and
Jerry's Kids. But you can't deny that, for example, the early Bad
Brains stuff isn't too far removed from the Dead Boys or even Sex
Pistols. In my opinion, when "Hardcore" strays too far away from
"Punk Rock" it turns into something awful, like Heavy Metal or Funk,
which we can all agree totally sucks.

8.What have you been listening to lately? Do you collect records or
are you into CD's?

Joe: I collect records, but have been getting into the digital age via
music stolen off the internet. Most of the records I buy now are dumb
novelty things. I think I have everything else.

9.Any plans to tour?

Joe: Nope.

10.What's your favorite pizza place and why?

Joe: Vito & Nick's on 84th/Pulaski because my wife works there and it
really is the best pizza ANYWHERE. Thin cracker crust, not that deep
dish shit or soggy cardboard NY crap-ola. If I want New York
pizza I'll call Domino's. Yeah, I said it.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Battle Ruins 7"


This is the best record I've heard in a long time. It's some of the dudes from The Lovely Lads playing extremely catchy melodic Oi with a touch of metal. Within a couple listens you'll be blasting the record at high volume and singing along. There was a download link below, but I took it down because I realized I should wait til it sells out or goes out of print. If you really want to you can find it on the internet, but if i were you I'd go to the Rock n Roll Disgrace webstore and order the actual record. Totally worth it, I just bought one myself. Anyways, this is must download/must buy material.

Rock and Roll Disgrace Webstore

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Pussy of the Month Club

This video came from the Vital Error/Picked Clean/Thought Crusade show in Indianapolis at a skatepark. Dude goes up and gives a speech about how someone got hit really hard and had to go home. I don't know who to give the pussy of the month award to....the person who went home because they got hit at a Hardcore show, or the white guy with dreadlocks whining on the mic about it. They're talking about my friend Bucky who wasn't even moshing that hard. You know what goes on at these shows, why don't you choose to stand in a place where you won't get moshed? On another note, I think one of the worst things that can happen at a show is when some sweaty guy with dreadlocks is moshing and the dreads fly around and hit you in the face. Fucking disgusting.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Midwest Hardstylez Site

A dude named Tony on the Bridge 9 board started a cool website dedicated to all things Midwest Hardcore...called Midwest Hardstylez. I think he should drop the "stylez" at the end though. Midwest Hardstyle sounds way cooler/less nerdy. Just sayin' dude.'s a cool site that supports the scene. Props.

Midwest Hardstylez

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Night Owl Print Zine #6 Available Now!

Night Owl #6: A Tribute to NYHC is out now. Featuring writeups of underrated classic NYHC bands like DMIZE, Rest in Pieces, Altercation, and The Icemen with guest reviews by Ryan Wilson (Thought Crusade/Ex-Expired Youth) and John Caution (Weekend Nachos). If you want a copy paypal 75 cents to (20 cents covers the printing cost, 50 cents covers the mailing cost, can't really account for the other 5 cents, 70 cents just sounds weird haha). As always, the Night Owl is free at shows so if you're at a Hardcore show in Chicago, keep your eyes peeled for it.

RazorxFade Demo

This is a new band from Chicago called RazorxFade. They play sloppy hardcore with some breaks thrown in for good measure. Usually I'm not too into this style but this shit gets me going. Great live show too. Look for an exclusive live set of theirs to be released on The Night Owl Television DVD vol.1 "Chicago Style"

Click here to download the demo from mediafire

Track List:

1. Invisible
2. Intro/Last In Line
3. Holy Hands
4. Choke
5. Called Out
6. Turn Your Back

Bad Luck 13 Videos

I think it's safe to say they won't be having shows here anymore.

"Satanic Rave"

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Rumble Fest Review (Day 2)

So here's my review of The Rumble Fest day 2 which took place on Saturday, April 17th. Day 1 featured bands like Weekend Nachos, The Killer, Death Before Dishonor, and Death Threat. Unfortunately I couldn't make it out due to lack of funds, but I heard it was a lot of fun, especially the Weekend Nachos, The Killer, and Death Threat sets. I missed out on filming which is kind of a bummer but whatever. On Saturday I took the Blue Line El over to the venue; Subterranean in Wicker Park. As I was walking up to the front door some kid out front said,"Jesus Saves". Not sure if he was serious or not, but it was just kind of weird and random. I pay my money and go upstairs to a mostly empty venue. Some band named "Lifeless" kicked things off and they were actually pretty good. They sounded like Merauder style heavy mosh mixed with a hint of Death Metal. You can tell they practice a lot because the set sounded really tight, and they hit all the notes perfectly....but at the same time they didn't sound too "polished" which has a bad connotation with me. I didn't really have any interest in the next couple bands (Steel Nation and Mother of Mercy). I went outside and chilled by the alley, taking a few hits off of a flask of Evan Williams Whiskey I brought with me. (Sidenote: Evan Williams is the shit. So much better than Jim Beam, almost as good as Jack Daniels.....for half the price). Some familiar faces started to trickle in from down the street. I smoked a couple cigarettes and shot the shit with Alex AC, while waiting for the bands to finish up.

I walked over to Flash Taco around the corner to take a dump and grab some food....but mainly to take a dump. The dudes from Skarhead were eating in there. I went up to the drummer and handed him a copy of my zine (The Night Owl #6: A Tribute to NYHC) and told him to check it out. He started looking at it and seemed amazed that bands like Altercation, Dmize, and The Icemen were mentioned. He told the rest of the guys to take a look at it, and I ended up meeting Ezec and the rest of the band. For all the crazy rep Ezec has, he couldn't have been a nicer and more down to earth acting dude than he was to me. It was refreshing to have someone you hear all kinds of ruthless stories/myths/legends about acting really chill and laid back. I asked him if he had time to do an interview and he was real receptive to the idea and told me to stop by the merch booth later and set it up.

When I went back was in between bands and H8 Inc. from Detroit were up next. I've always like this band. It's weird that they get little to no crowd reaction whenever they play here.....even when they played 2 Cold As Life covers with some of the original members. At one point they actually got pissed about it and the lead singer "Beast" said to the crowd,"Thanks for fuckin' nothing, Chicago" It's cool that they chose to cover the early "Rawn" material which is more Oi influenced. I should also mention that these are some scary looking dudes. I'm talking fresh off the prison yard, thousand yard stare dudes with head and face tattoos. Their set was heavy as fuck, and the new tunes are real catchy, especially the song "We Hate The World" which has been stuck in my head ever since last Saturday. They gave shoutouts to their crew "CTYC" periodically. There was one obvious Detroit dude moshing during their set. I've noticed that most dudes from Detroit, especially people affiliated with CTYC have their own style of mosh. They dance like wide-eyed demoniacally possessed robots high on angel dust. Lots of pushing/random arm movements/gestures. It's something that's hard to explain, you just have to see it for yourself. Speaking of head/face tattoos...this seems to be a new trend that's exploding among beatdown/toughguy hardcore afficionados in the scene here. I noticed like 4 different people who I usually only see once a year at the Annual Shane Merrill fest/Heist/Rumble whatever it's called this year, show up with fresh face tats. It's a ballsy move, but I hope their employment/source of income is on solid ground because it's hard enough for a normal looking person to find a job now let alone someone with tattoos on their face.

Harms Way played next. While I was filming their set some dickface threw a plastic bottle at me from the balcony. Whoever did that, what the fuck is your problem? That's not cool or funny at all, just a complete act of douchery. If you're reading this, go fuck yourself. Back to the music, Harms Way's set was very solid, one of the best ones I've ever seen them play as a matter of fact. James was looking large and in charge as usual, and his stage mosh shows that he's very agile as well as built like a human bull. Bo the guitarist had some sweet stage moves too. He's no "Mike the Gook" from Cold As Life/Skarhead (Known for his stage moves, though he plays bass not guitar), but he was busting out some little half turns/turn backs and jumps and shit that looked pretty cool. The footage I captured turned out to be really good. I filmed some of it in "Night Owl Vision" to capture the audience's mosh vibe, which you can't see when the Night Vision is off. Definitely a highlight of the night.

Reign Supreme was up next. Lots of moshing/singing along for them. I never really liked this band to be honest. Way too generic. The singer makes boring speeches about being an individual.......haven't heard that one in the last 5 minutes. Apparently this might be their last show in Chicago. Apparently I'm one of the only ones that don't really care. They were boring last time I saw them, and they were boring this time as well. After their set I went upstairs to use the bathroom. Upon entering there was a member of a local 4 letter crew posted up inside right inside the door....assumedly as a lookout. As I walked up to the urinal, I heard the telltale jingling of keys in the bathroom stall. (For those of you who don't go out to the bar much on the weekend, this usually means someone is taking bumps of some booger sugar/bolivian marching powder/cocaine whatever you want to call it. Upon realizing that someone else had entered the bathroom....key bump dude loudly admonished his lookout for not doing the job properly which made me inwardly chuckle. The dude emerged wide-eyed from the stall, forcefully sniffed and said,"Holy shit!". Haha. Honestly I think the lookout was unnecessary. I don't think anyone there really gave a shit, and security was too busy keeping an eye on the dancefloor.

Wisdom in Chains was up next. They put on a very loud and entertaining set. It was kind of weird because most of the audience was standing in back while about 20-30 people went nuts up front. The skins seemed to be particularly into this band. They do have kind of an interestingly unique sound. Oi mixed with heavy modern hardcore with breakdowns. That might sound kind of weird but they pull it off well. Mad Joe Black, the singer for WIC definitely has a voice you could pick out of a crowd. The guy just sounds fucking pissed at the world, and not surprisingly, that's what most of the songs seem to be about. That and fighting in the streets. I filmed most of the set, but stopped short because I wanted to have enough life in my batteries for Skarhead's set.

Ironically enough, I started to have camera issues as I was testing my camera out right before Skarhead went on. I had been stowing the camera in my backpack behind the Harms Way merch table between bands. Somehoew my memory card got lost/fell out and it wouldn't let me film without it for some reason. There probably was a way to get around it, but I'm still figuring out the ins and outs of operating my camera, so I unfortunately couldn't get it figured out in time. It was cool though because I wanted to dance anyway. They kicked their set off with KAC (Kings at Crime) which made me lose my shit. They were SO much better this time than they were the last time they played Chicago at The Beat Kitchen. Everything was tightly executed, and one of my favorite parts was watching Mike "The Gook"'s crazy stage moves. He does this endless spin that he's known for without missing a beat, along with jump kicks and other shit. Dude has so much energy and is so into the music he's playing, it's awesome. They bust out some other songs including their new one "D.F.F., which is catchy as shit. I've had it stuck in my head on repeat every since I heard it live that night.

By now I'm kind of surprised that there hasn't been anything more than a minor scuffle throughout the entire show, especially with 3 different crews in attendance. Finally, the moment comes when things start to unravel. The Detroit CTYC robot mosh guy that I was talking about earlier was doing his thing in the pit. This time around, what he was doing wasn't so much moshing as it was just pushing people. Honestly I didn't think it was that big a deal, from my perspective he was leaving alone people who weren't "involved" on the dancefloor, but it was kind of borderline because usually you don't really mosh like that out of town unless you have a crew of dudes there who have your back (which this guy did). So there's this one stocky latino dude named Chris in the pit. Chicago kids probably know who this dude is. He has big head tattoos, and now face, neck and throat tats as well. He comes out to Shane Merrill's fest every year, and you can usually find him at Killer shows once in awhile where he's known for his unbridled enthusiasm for the band, and moshing with open bottles of beer that fly everywhere when he's up front doing his thing. Haha. He's a good kid, but it always seems like he's in the middle of some drama, apparently he's down with the SHOC boys now (A crew, mostly old school skinheads from the mid to late 80's and early 90's). So anyway, CTYC dude is moshing it up robot style, and pushing people around. He does it to Chris about 3 times and you can tell there's some tension that's starting to build, but then everything seems cool for a minute. CTYC dude makes another lap, and pushes Chris again, this time Chris pushes back. The two dudes kind of started to square off, and shit was just about to pop off when "Beast" the singer of H8 Inc. (also of CTYC crew) goes up to his boy and tries to squash shit/smooth things over. Again, everything seems like it might be resolved for a second....when one of Chris's friends (I'm assuming a SHOC boy) sucker punches the dude. After that all fucking hell broke loose. The entire Skarhead band jumps off the stage and starts beating the living shit out of the dude who threw the punch. I was literally right behind the guy when the punch was I got out of the way very fast so as not to be mistakenly involved. I stared at the scene with my mouth agape, and I'm pretty sure I said holy SHIT! at least 3 times. This dude is getting stole on from all angles....his heads going back and forth in every direction since he's getting hit so many times from so many different angles. He did a good job of shielding himself though. I glance over and see the bass player for Skarhead with his guitar in his hands, holding it like you would a baseball bat/other weapon. I knew what was coming....and it did. He fuckin' DOMED some dude with his instrument. It landed with a sickening thud which I could feel in the pit of my stomach. After that the fight seemed to slowly peter out. I will say the dude who got the beatdown took his lumps like a man, he actually smiled, held his fist over his head and fist pumped a couple times as he was guided out by security. He wasn't altogether undamaged though. His nose looked like an overripe tomato (probably broken) and he was bleeding from a couple different head wounds.

Surprisingly enough, Skarhead took the stage again. They said," Every one of our boys are like family, if you fuck with one of us, you fuck you fuck with all of us". Another Chicago dude who I see around once a year or so goes up to the stage and starts arguing with Ezec. Ezec explained that he was defending a friend etc. The dude kept pushing the issue, Ezec rears back and slugs the guy in the face from the stage. Being smart, the dude fell back and didn't retaliate as it would have been very ugly for him. This marked the end of the show. During all this one of the bouncers kept yelling "Take it Outside, respect the venue!".....He complained that he was the only bouncer there at that point. What was Subterranean thinking when they only have one security guy working a Skarhead show? One of the dudes from Skarhead got on the mic and told him "Shut up pussyboy"....which was pretty funny. After all this went down, the rest of the security staff seemed to appear out of nowhere and asked everyone to get the hell out of there. I found my ride home and made it out of there and home in one piece which I'm thankful for. I've seen a lot of brawls and fights in my time, but this was hands down one of the craziest. I've also never seen a band jump off the stage in mid-set and dish out a heaping helping of street justice. I guess there's a first time for everything. I want to thank Shane Merrill for putting on the fest and continuing his tradition of booking all the best shows in Chicago. I'd also like to say I'm glad that all my friends were safe and none of them got involved in that whole debacle, and thanks to Jeremy from Indiana for giving me a ride home!

Here are some videos of the show from my youtube channel
I'm just showing the first part of each band's set. To view the rest of the sets hit up the channel for more.

H8 Inc. Part 1 of 4

Wisdom in Chains Part 1 of 2

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Night Owl Print Zine Back Issue #2

This is the second issue of The Night Owl Fanzine. I tried to step my game up a bit and include a couple pictures, as you can see it didn't turn out very well. The back page is a little crinkled.....I have problems with organization, I gave away all the copies and seemed to have misplaced the remaining ones except this. Features an interview with Boston's "The Rival Mob". Actually, I;m pretty sure this is the first interview they did as a band. Take a look.

Night Owl Print Zine Back Issue #1

This is the first issue of the print version of The Night Owl that I put out. This was the first zine I've ever done so I just used a barebones text only style in order to fit as much information as possible. I started to give it out copies for free at shows. The back page has a good HarmsxWay interview from around the time when they were first starting out. Look for issues 2-5 to be posted soon.

Pilgrimage to CBGB's

I originally wrote this article for an avant garde artistic type website, but I had a falling out with the douchebag who ran it.....I figured here would be a good place to resurrect it.

New York Bound
by Charlie Numbers

I took a trip from Chicago to New York City destined to see the famous rock and roll club CBGB's, before it was to be closed down forever. The excuse for this trip was a punk rock festival called "Fuck You Fest".The anticipation of what lay ahead was overwhelming, I wanted to catch a glimpse of the place where so many revolutionary acts got their start. The famous stomping ground where so many bands gave everything they had night after night to get their music out to the city and ultimately the world, in the middle of the cold anonymity that envelopes New York and the inhabitants of the city. Legendary bands like the Ramones, the Dictators, and Blondie, in the late 70's, and The Cro Mags, Warzone, and The Bad Brains in the 80's were musical staples of the club and along with "Max's Kansas City", another NYC club located in Manhattan, became known as a rock and roll mecca. It may be an over-used cliche, but if the walls at CBGB's could tell stories, they would be among the most triumphant and tragic that you could think of! The countless bar fights and couplings....the times where the performer held up the show because he was down the street copping dope…..the slices of live music that seemed to transcend time and space to provide a true ecstatic experience for those in the audience watching and participating, many of whom were flying high on a mixture of chemicals, and finally, the tragic deaths which befell many of the people who helped build the legend of CBGB's.

My first night in town I wandered around The Lower East Side taking in the grit and grime, thinking to myself how this was nothing compared to how it must have looked 20 years ago when the neighborhood was completely different and ungentrified. I walked through Washington Square Park where I was offered a cornucopia of narcotics, half of the proposals surely came from undercover officers as they have a small substation built along the edge of the park. Besides, I was already good, having brought a small amount of weed with me from back home. One thing I noticed is how much more crowded New York is compared to my home town of Chicago. The city is densely packed with people, and I suppose it's this in part which contributes to the folklore that New Yorkers are impatient and inhospitable. I found this to be thoroughly untrue as I was helped with directions in an amicable manner numerous times. I found food to be cheap and delicious with many, many different options to choose from. Dry goods however like cigarettes, disposable cameras, and other accoutrements seemed to be overpriced though, actually it seemed as if many of the store owners were sizing me up and making up the prices as saw fit….which struck me as funny. In spite of the fact that New Yorkers were nice for the most part, but I learned that when it comes to money they don't fuck around. You have to be on guard or else you run the risk of being short changed, ripped off, mugged etc.

I started to make my way over to CBGB's. Tonight I was going to see the hip-hop group Non-Phixion. I had become acquainted with a couple people who worked security there prior to my trip. They very graciously added me to the guest list and to my delight, set me up with some drink tickets which would exponentially increase my enjoyment of the evening. When I walked through the doors of the place, one of the first things I noticed was how the walls were almost completely covered in the club's history. Layers upon layers of stickers, handbills, and most of all, graffiti cover nearly every square inch of the interior. I wouldn't say the venue was packed, there was a good amount of people there, but there was still enough space to move around. I remember it becoming pretty hot and humid over the course of the evening. I also noticed that the club itself had a comfortable home-like vibe, however the crowd for the evening was kind of weird. The majority was made up of soft looking post-adolescent males trying their best to look tough and ice-grill everyone in sight. My friend working security dubbed it "The night of caucasion guilt" which amused me to no end.

The opening acts were decent enough. After a small joint and a couple drinks the deep bass chest-rattling bass of the sound system started sounding better and better to me. I took a few bathroom breaks and noticed that once you went down those graffiti-encrusted stairs, the indoor smoking laws of New york ceased to exist which was fine by me as I took advantage of smoking a couple quick cigarettes in the midst of the thick clouds of blunt smoke which emanated from a couple small circles of people. Finally Non-Phixion came on and delivered an entertaining set, which the audience ate up. I snapped off a couple pictures on the disposable cameras I brought. I found out later that for some reason, taking pictures at Non-Phixion shows was taboo, possibly due to the paranoia of the group members themselves. In a couple shots you can actually see a couple people turn around and glare at me which gave me a laugh later on. My security guard friend told me the next day that a couple people at the late show got jumped for taking pictures. Those were to be the only fights of the night besides a few small scuffles with people in line for the late show as the early show got out. I ended up grabbing some food, taking the subway back to Sunset Park, Brooklyn where I was staying, and passing out with the events of the evening running over and over in my head.

The next day I woke up early and struck out again for the Lower East Side. I spend the afternoon exploring St. Marks place…checking out record and clothing shops, and wandering around taking everything in. The person I was staying with took me to "Manitoba's" which is a bar owned by "Handsome" Dick Manitoba, a member of the seminal punk band "The Dictators", who were a staple at CBGB's throughout the 70's. Dick was a man of few words when I met him, but it was really cool to shake hands with the legendary singer of one of your favorite bands. After I had a drink at his bar, and right before the sun set I made my way to Tompkins Square Park. The park itself had changed dramatically since the 80's and 90's, when homeless people had virtually taken over the park and camped out in cardboard villages. This culminated in a riot between the homeless people and police, which started the change in motion which transformed the park into something completely different. As the sun began to set, I sat on a bench and rolled a joint, dwelling on the history of my surroundings. There was next to nobody around so I sparked up the joint and snapped off a couple quick pictures with my camera.

Once again I made my way to CBGB's, where I bought a wristband and made my way to the front. The crowd today was a lot different than last night, mostly hardcore kids, skinheads, a few punk rockers and normal people. I started drinking right away, bourbon and cokes consumed a bit faster than normal as I was a bit anxious. My friend that works there was working again tonight and introduced me to a couple skins from Baltimore and DC.…one of which was the singer of the band "86 Mentality" (the main band I came to see) and the others were members of the Oi band "The Dead End Boys". Assorted members of their crew were hanging out as well and everyone was very personable and cool. One of the cool things about punk rock is that most of the time there isn't any difference between the people in bands and the audience, nobody is put on a pedestal (ideally). If you like a certain song by a band you can go up to them and talk about it. It's not like in the normal music world where it's cool to act like you're above your audience. Some bands played including 86 Mentality. I moshed a little bit (especially for the 86 intro), and had couple more beers. As the night wore on I got a bit more drunk and ended up taking a girl back to where I was staying, missing the last couple bands. In retrospect, I probably should have stayed.

The next day I did some final record and clothes shopping around The Lower East Side. I made sure to eat a New York hot dog and a couple slices of New York pizza. I know I'll catch a lot of shit for this but I prefer New York pizza over my hometown deep dish. I went back to the apartment where I was staying to pack my bags and say goodbye to my host. I bought him a bottle of Courvosier to show my gratitude for him putting me up for the weekend. I took a cab to the airport, went through the rigors of airport security, and boarded my outbound plane to O'Hare airport in Chicago.It's kind of funny that I spent my vacation hanging out in the exact same neighborhood the whole time, but I don't regret it one bit. I did everything I set out to do and then some. I saw a historic landmark while it was still open for business, and I'll never forget everything I experienced at the club and on the trip in general. As the plane took off my mind was once again racing with thoughts of the weekend.

Introducing....The Night Owl Blog

What's up,

My name's Charlie and I created this blog as a companion to my print zine (The Night Owl), as well as my youtube channel (Night Owl Television, located at A little bit about myself.....I'm 25 years old been involved in the punk rock/hardcore scene since I was around 15 years old. I listen to lots of Thrash/Glam Metal, old school Glam Rock, Powerpop, Oi, Shoegaze along with other stuff. That's it for now....keep checking back for updates!