The filmmakers of CBGB—the flick about the titular New York club that served as the piss-stained cradle of the punk movement—have confirmed their hotly-anticipated movie wrapped shooting in August and they're editing it for release. I'm ripping up a pair of expensive John Varvatos jeans in excitement right now.
Portraying the club that housed early sets from alternative legends like Ramones, Talking Heads, Blondie and Dead Boys is an imposing task, but it sounds like director Randall Miller has a genuine appreciation for the subject matter. "It is a story of Hilly [Kristal, the club's owner] and how he basically was the catalyst for this gigantic, sea-changing music," Miller told Rolling Stone. "And he didn't set out to do that initially, but he became sort of the godfather of punk and underground rock."
Even if names like Stiv Bators and Wayne/Jayne County mean nothing to you, the movie still has an unusual appeal in that it reunites Harry Potter co-stars Alan Rickman (Professor Snape will play Kristal) and Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley is portraying Dead Boys' guitarist Cheetah Chrome).
But don't freak, punk purists! The real Cheetah Chrome is actually totally down with the ginger wizard playing him. "The first day I saw him on-set, he hit it dead-on," Chrome said. "I'm really glad he's doing me."
And while I'm extremely optimistic about this film, I do have a wishlist of stories from CBGB's heyday I'm hoping this movie covers. Three CBGB tales in particular stand out to me, all of which I read about in the incredible oral history of punk music by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain called Please Kill Me (which is possibly the most entertaining book ever published about any subject ever). Here they are.
How Punks Co-Opted Kristal's Country/Bluegrass Bar Vision
Back when Richard Hell was in Television, they were one of the first bands to transform CBGB from an under-frequented bar on the Bowery to the center of New York punk culture. According to Television guitarist Richard Lloyd, they initially had to bend the truth just to get Kristal to allow them to play his club. After he told them CBGB-OMFUG stood for "Country, Bluegrass, Blues, and Other Music for Uplifting Gourmandizers," they responded, "Oh yeah, we play a little of that…" They didn't, but after punk bands starting pulling in regulars to the dive bar, Kristal stopped caring.
Dee Dee Ramone Switching Girlfriends at CBGB
Couples often boast of the romantic serendipity that brought them together, but Patti Giordano's story of how she got involved with Dee Dee Ramone blasts all those out of the water. On the way from CBGB to Max's Kansas City (another iconic punk bar), Giordano invited Dee Dee to come with her—which his girlfriend at the time, Connie, was none too pleased about. "Connie proceeded to run out of the front door of CBGB's like a total lunatic in a raving rage…and jumps on the hood of the car and starts trying to smash the windshield with a beer bottle," Giordano told the authors of Please Kill Me. "So I peeled out with Connie on the hood of my car. She hung on until she fell off. We went to Max's and laughed about it."
Dead Boys Leaving Their Mark in CBGB's Cuisine
According to the manager of Sid Vicious and Johnny Thunders, the Dead Boys used to season the bar chili with something very unsavory. "The first time I went to CBGB's… we ate the chili," Leee Childers said in Please Kill Me. "Years later, Bebe Buell was horrified to learn [that]. She said, 'You ate the chili? Stiv told me the Dead Boys used to go back in the kitchen and jerk off in it.' I said to her, 'So what? I've had worse in my mouth.'"
Yep. CBGB's wasn't your Hot Topic punk scene. And it doesn't sound like the movie is going to cater to that.