Tuesday, August 11, 2009

And Now For Some Divergent Viewpoints! Brendan Rafferty (SFA) and Patrick Winter (Citizens Arrest)!

Here's a flyer from cXa's first show!

Here's a pic of Pat Winter in the corner

Here's Brendan in all his glory! Not sure who took this photo, if you did, let me know!

Here's Brendan Rafferty's (SFA- vocals) reflections of his ABC days. Some will think them slightly controversial undoubtedly, but such is life. We weren't a perfect little society! lol. Brendan's criticisms are constructive in nature, plus I love how with his writerly ways, he really went to town on our four little questions. Thanks Dude! Buy his novel when it comes out!

1.) How did you first discover ABC?
In early 1989, my band, SFA, was out bowling with Bugout Society and we decided to make a bet. We had been playing shows together at various clubs in the tri-state area and usually flipped a coin to see who would open. We decided to bowl against each other to see who would open the next time we played together. They won. (Thanks Mike)
Charlie from Bugout Society approached the people running the collective and booked the first ABC Saturday hardcore matinee, April 15th, 1989
Here's the flyer...

A few months later, my friend Connie Hall, the woman who was booking all the hardcore matinees at CBGB, pulled me aside to let me know that the CBGB matinees would be ending at the end of November.

I went to Mike Bullshit to let him know his band GO! would not be playing CBGB in December as planned.
Mike took the initiative and started looking for another place. The Pyramid, Lismar Lounge (where he and I booked shows the year before), Downtown Beirut II, and other venues were nonreceptive so he got the contact info from Charlie and went to ABC-NO-RIO and that's how it all began.

Mike, me, a few others began booking every Saturday. We were renting John's soundboard and PA every week. I had to bow out after the first few months because I was a new father (twins) and my free time ended. That's the same reason Gavin bowed out early on.

It's weird how much its changed, in some ways for the worse, and how this little shithole that was our last choice has become so legendary.

2.) What are your earliest memories of playing/hanging out at/or organizing a show at ABC?
This is where I talk shit and badmouth ABC-NO-RIO and throw a little harsh reality at the rosy memories and false history that regards the ABC collective as DIY saviors of the scene.

But before I do that, I will say I had great memories of hanging out there, booking shows, playing upstairs and downstairs and there were a lot of cool kids and great bands. There was a great sense of family there and a number of people that I will always think fondly of.
I also got to play with and make friends with some really cool (an underapreciated) out of town bands like Necracedia and Krack.

Now to talk shit...

Within the first few months, there was a growing sense of arrogance about ABC.
There was a revisionist demonization of the CBGB matinees, exaggerating the violence and reimagining the rockstar attitude of the Youth Crew as though it represented every aspect of the CBGB matinees.
There was a repeated attitude that the CBGB matinees, the Ritz shows, and the new shows at other large venues were populated wholly by elitist cliques and goons.

The ABC crowd proudly declared themselves the anti-elitists, the anti-clique...
but they wound up being more hypocritical than the Straght Edge phonies that used to preach unity while doing their best to divide the scene a few years earlier.
The anti-elitists, preaching against exclusion, against cliques... became even more elitist and more exclusionary.

I was at one of the earliest ABC hardcore collective meetings. This was just as I was bowing out due to work hours and new fatherhood. I didn't personally have the time to take a night off and stand outside a club, handing out flyers for upcoming ABC shows.

So I spoke up and suggested that somebody needed to go to Irving Plaza or Chaos for some upcoming Sick of it All show and hand out flyers for the next weekend's ABC show.
I was voted down.
The concensus was that no one wanted "those people" at ABC.
I argued that new kids discovering hardcore wouldn't know about ABC-NO-RIO shows... that a lot of cool new kids looking for good shows would only know about the big shows at large venues if no one goes there to hand out flyers for other places.

If you lived in California or Germany you could read about ABC-NO-RIO and how cool it was in some fanzine.
But if you lived in NYC and wanted to find a cool place for HC shows, you would never know ABC existed because they didn't want you to know.
Besides the fact that they were deliberately trying to exclude outsiders and new kids, they were also fucking over out of town bands.
An out of town band would travel twelve hours to play ABC in front of a handful of regulars who didn't pay a cover.

I argued these points and, as I recall, with the exception of Chris Boarts (who wrote the coolest, most diverse local zine at the time) I was voted down.

Just as the straight edge Youth Crew bands were trying to make a scene just for them and creating an "us vs them" friction within the scene, that's what the ABC folks were doing, while preaching against it.

3.) What are your fondest or worst memories of ABC?
I have many good memories of friends I made, making a drunken ass of myself with a microphone and seeing bands like Citizen's Arrest get the exposure they deserved and might have not gotten if not for ABC. ABC may have excluded many... but they did include a few gems that I was glad I got to see.

I remember in 1995 or 1996 being booked to play ABC-NO-RIO with Cause For Alarm, perhaps the most genuinely positive (not in an ugly sXe way) bands to ever come out of the NYHC scene.
Some crusty trust fund kid who just discovered punk, on behalf of the collective, wanted us and Cause For Alarm to submit our lyrics for approval to make sure there was nothing racist, sexist or homophobic
Tyler King, who booked the show, wisely intervened with a few other ABC old timers and I never had to submit my lyrics.
I was very dissapointed... I was looking forward to meeting with the motherfucker who asked for my lyrics so I could personally "submit" them.

4.) What do you do now?
I continued playing and booking shows for a long time and worked at CBGB until we closed in late 2006.
I am currently writing (naming names and not holding punches) and also working a crappy paratransit job... Hey, the "no future" lifestyle is all fun until the future catches up with you.
My newborn twins that forced me to be less active with ABC are now 19-year-old college sophmores. Yikes!

Here's Patrick Winter's (drums for Citizens Arrest, Antiem, Go! lol, creator and editor of Paper Cuts Zine, etc.) reflections. As he describes it- brutally honest!

The brutally honest version...

1.) How did you first discover ABC?

I believe Joe Martin mentioned it to me. Seemed like a good idea. I never seemed to fit it within the SXE elite's at CBGB's so i was open to try out something new. A lot went into getting that place ready to host shows and we were all very dedicated and serious about it. It was a good thing at the time.

2.) What are your earliest memories of playing/hanging out at/or organizing a show at ABC?

My earliest memory is actually the process of helping to build a stage. And thinking, man, I hope people will come to shows here. Along with these "weekly meetings" we used to sit and have in the beginning discussing our goals and assigning tasks. As far as organizing shows. I never did that really. the one time I wanted to put a band on a bill I got chewed out by mike Bullshit for it.

3.) What are your fondest or worst memories of ABC?

I don't have a Ton of fond memories really. It was fun to play there but the place lost its charm for me pretty quickly. Too many people seemed to think they ran the place and the folks who helped to get the thing up and running were expected to just sit at the sidelines.

Worst memories? Any time I had to talk to or breathe same air as Sam McPheeters or Mike Bullshit. The only thing that might be worse than that would be having to sit thru TITANIC again. But dealing with those two and their tremendous egos was akin to a surgical hemorrhoid treatment.

That also makes me remember the time I was asked to fill in on drums at a GO! show. Mike BS thought I could do it without even practicing. Which i didn't. So, i showed up and pretty much messed up every song I played and Mike BS made a point of making a spectacle of how bad I was to the crowd. That would probably be the worst memory but it really goes under the whole Mike BS being an asshole umbrella.

The last CXA show was a notable fond memory because the amount of people crowded into that basement stage area was insane, I thought someone was gonna end up getting seriously hurt. It was nice to see that people came together and got the importance of it. it meant a lot to me at the time. We had been broken up for a bit already so it was strange to play because we all really weren't talking to each other.

4.) What do you do now?

Graphic Designer and full time Dad.

Here's Pat today!


  1. If I had a few days free...I'd leave a comment... :)

    Dave K.

  2. "asshole umbrella"
    Pat... you are my hero.

  3. Ha! Funny recollections, those 2 always spoke their minds. Congrats to Brendan on his 19yr old (Hatecore) progeny & Pat's "surgical hemorrhoids" comment is a riot!

  4. Boy, do I miss those Clashes of the Bowling Titans. I can't believe I was out of town for the one where...

    At any rate, while I concur with the idea that there was an aggro atmosphere in one place and creeping elitism in another, it wasn't constant and it wasn't always in the order you think. On the whole I managed to have a really good time playing and seeing shows and hanging out in both places.

    Getting shows at CB's was always an uphill battle, but we always felt welcomed at ABC, so thanks to Mike, Freddy, Esneider and everybody else who made that happen.

    Rich, thanks for starting this blog, I'm having a great time reading it!

    Bob Gampert
    Bugout Society

  5. Great comments guys! Keep em' coming!

  6. Brendan that was excellent! Plenty of fond memories occasionally tainted by close mindedness. Just because it's Politcally correct doesn't mean it isn't close minded. Reviewing lyrical content? It wasn't supposed to be the PMRC.

    If you didn't already know any CFA lyrics, you're a tard.

    Looking past the few dark clouds of censorship, there were alot of great bands, great kids, and positive energy over all. Even the bands that sucked.

    Pat, that was friggin hysterical.