PRINT October 1999

Style Makes the Band

“All music is experimental.” —Florian Schneider, Kraftwerk

WHEN IT COMES TO STARTING A NEW WAVE, it takes an East Village. I don’t know how long the funky east end of Greenwich Village has been a bohemian enclave and avant-garde hub, but going back to Charlie Parker, jazz at Slug’s, the beats, and the immortal Fugs is good enough for me.

When I discovered the East Village, at the outset of the ’70s, it was the funkiest place I’d been. It was a neighborhood that looked like it had a love hangover and lysergic acid indigestion. The ’60s were wearing off and something was afoot, on platforms. You can tell from the cover of the first New York Dolls album, weird boys in makeup, glitter—a look halfway between drag queen and junkie thug. They were the prophets, a decade early for the waves made by the collision of art and rock ’n’ roll.

In the late ’70s, the East Village was home to most of the young artists and musicians in New York. Minimal employment

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