Johnny brought his van down to CBGB one last time.
For every eight Abercrombie & Fitch-wearing robots that walked by the former CBGB Wednesday afternoon oblivious to the fact that there was once a club on the Bowery called CBGB, about one person stopped and mourned Hilly.
Louise Parnassa, a former booker for the club and Hilly’s right-hand woman, paused to remember her former boss. One of the guys from Ultra Violence, an old NYHC outfit, stopped by and tagged an RIP. Mandy Stein, the documentarian and daughter of Sire Records president Seymour Stein, was there recording it all for a forthcoming documentary on the club.
Johnny, a lifelong Brooklynite who refused to give his last name, came by in his van.
Johnny, who uses his van to drive around Jesse Malin and other musicians, shared some of his thoughts on the passing of Hilly Kristal.
On why he brought his van:
“They used to be more people outside hanging out than inside. That’s why I used to bring my van. And that’s why I brought it today. I figured if people were still hanging out. We used to go across the street, get beers, and hang out.”
On the neighborhood:
“This is it as far as the neighborhood goes. This is the final bullet…we all might as well go home and drift away now.”
“It’s not like there is anyone around to care. Everybody is gone who would have cared. This is class warfare in New York. And guess who’s winning. It started when Giuliani let Trump build all those condos on the West Side and all the developers have been doing whatever they want ever since. It’s a psychological war. They just get you to give up and leave.”
On Hilly’s fight with his former landlord Muzzy Rosenblatt:
“And look now, Nobody wants to rent the place. Do you think Starbucks want to be next door to that [The BRC homeless shelter], people coming in and out all day and messing with their customers. Think about the money he’s lost by not renting the place for almost a year. He didn’t have to kick him out. He lost a lot of money….It basically came down to two old Jewish men fighting—it doesn’t get more New York than that. “
On Johnny Thunders:
“We used to tell his dealer “Give him the good stuff. Put a little speed in his dope. We want to see a good show, so give him the good stuff. Don’t give him stuff that’s gonna knock him out.”
A little of the old Ultra Violence.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 29, 2007