Back in Time

April 7, 2009

This the coolest thing I’ve seen in a while.  It’s a virtual tour of CBGB, the legendary NYC club that was crucial to the early punk scene.  The Ramones, Blondie, The Talking Heads, Patti Smith, and dozens of other bands played there in the late 70s.  The funny thing is, CBGB actually stands for Country, Bluegrass and Blues, but the music crashing from its speakers was about as far from those types as it was possible to get.  The club became a center for the punk scene, and soon it was a badge of honor for a band to say they had played at CBGB and braved the awful smell.  It closed in October 2006 after a series of legal disputes.  The owner, Hilly Kristal, intended to recreate CBGB in Las Vegas (where all music acts go to die, I guess).  Unfortunately he died of complications from lung cancer  in 2007, so he never got to see the club come alive again.  Its space on Bleecker Street is now an expensive clothing store.  Terrible, to say the least.

That’s where this virtual tour comes in.  Along with the original CBGB awning that still hangs above whatshisface ripoff clothing, it’s preserving the legend of the club.  Punk fans like me who were born way too late to see the Ramones in action can still get a sense of what is was like to be there, surrounded by more stickers and random graffiti than should rightfully fit in a space so small.  Best of all, when you use the neon purple arrows to navigate up to the stage, you see it from the band’s point of view.  You look out from behind the microphones and you can imagine the waiting audience.  It’s like being in a video game of the club; not quite authentic but still stunning in its graphics and detail.  Spend enough time wandering around it in and you could almost say you had been there. Except for the smell.

P.S.  The full name of the club is CBGB OMFUG.  Wikipedia says OMFUG stands for “Other Music for Uplifting Gormandizers”.  “Gormandizer” means voracious eater, but Kristal interpreted it to mean voracious consumers of music.  Which describes punk fans perfectly.  Someone want to build me a time machine?



  1. The Nick (http://www.thenickrocks.com/) is often referred to as ‘the CBGBs of the South’. We always joke that the one staple we pull from the wall may just be the one that brings the whole fucking place down.

  2. Tee hee. Like Jenga with a real building! Hard hats may be in order.

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