Born: 25th July 1958
Birth Place: Coral Gables, Florida
Grew up in: Bethal, Connetticut_
Married: Kim Gordon (1984)
Children: Coco Hayley (1994)
In '77 I was nineteen living on East 13th Street in New York and paying, or trying to pay, $110 a month rent. I was bonkers, alone, with no social life.
I met this girl and became obsessed
with being in love with her. She was fucking this older writer poet guy
who lived in my building on the top floor.
I would hang out my window from afternoon to evening hoping and waiting for her to turn the corner.
One day she knocked, came in and I knew we were gonna have to be together forever. Five minutes later the writer guy knocked and walked in all innocent and smiling and I realized the two of them had plans that day and she said "OK, see ya later!' and I was like, "OK" and then I blanked out. It wasn't so tragic cuz I did eventually score some quality time with her (she was Swedish!) but too many stupid hours were spent walking from the East Village to Tribeca, back and forth, chanting punker mantras of unrequited desire, hoping to run into this incredible on- the-loose girl.
I moved to New York early '77. I had planned it for the last couple of years. I fantasized about it constantly. My fantasies were fueled by the progressive development of punk.
It was David Johansen to Patti Smith to John Cale to the Ramones to the Dictators to Punk Magazine to New York Rocker to Rock Scene to St. Mark's Place to Bleeker Bob's to Manic Panic to Gem Spa to Max's to CBGB, etc, I was playing in a Television/ T.Heads-influenced art-rock band called the Coachmen. They were Rhode Island School of Design graduates (same school David Byrne went to) and they were older than me (early 20s). I met the leader guy in my hometown record store and he told me he was moving to New York to start a punk band. We pen-palled and I moved in and joined them.
Sid was on the loose. Someone stabbed Nancy a week or two prior and Sid was bombing around town. He would come see Judy Nylon at CBGB cuz he was friends with her. We (The Coachmen, the only friends I had) would go to the gig cuz we knew the drummer and the place would be pretty empty.
Judy wasn't super popular but she
was rad, doing a real slow punky version of 'Jailhouse Rock. But fucking
Sid would walk in and sit right near us.
He was the skinniest. His skin was totally white.
And he had those looks and mannerisms that you knew he just had to have. My dream was to start a band with him that would totally kill. He was down and out and I was ready to immerse myself in him. Total punk rock.
But I was in an art- rock band. He was into heroin, murder and weird sex from after- hours hell. When he died it was one of the most intense moments of my life. I watched the TV reports like it was Kennedy being assassinated. I collected and have to this day every newspaper clipping there was (unfortunately the was a newspaper strike in New York which limited the amount of super schlock coverage). I used to walk around the streets looking for pennies so I could save up go 200 of them and then go to St. Mark's Cinema (2nd Ave. & 8th --the Gap's there now) and see the second -run double-feature.
The audience was a mixture of artist
towners, East Village Puerto Rican dudes, luminaries (Divine, Richard Hell, etc.) and new-wave loners (myself). The lobby was a cloud of cigarette and pot smoke. I re- member Richard Hell sitting down with his then girlfriend Susan Springfield and I got up and sat in front of them as if I was a dishevelled poet punk hoping to impress them.
I met Richard many many years later and he had no recollection of this. I spent a glorious March week end with the Swedish girl I was obsessed with and I figured she would just stay in my apartment forever from that moment on but she left Monday morning wear- ing my overcoat. She actually said she'd be right back but she never re- turned. I ran into her a couple of weeks later and she refused to address the issue and I told her I needed my coat back. I actually almonst cried in front of her and told her I loved her and all I wanted was a girlfriend to live with and all the while a fire engine was screaming past us. She knew what I was saying and just kind of smiled compassionately because of all the noise around us. We were both a little embarrassed.
I lived on 13th street between A & B. In 77/78 there weren't so many skinny white kids in the area and I'd get harassed and chased sometimes. The only person I was aware of living on thatstreet was Lydia Lunch. At first I was anti-Lydiabecause there was an interview with her in Soho Weekly News where she called Patti Smith a bare- foot hippie chick and Television a bunch of old men playing wanky guitar solos. Seeing as how punk rock defined itself by trashing Led Zep, Floyd et al,I was amazed there was this new punk person trashing Patti Smith! I moved to New York to fuck Patti Smith and now Lydia was saying Patti was most definately uncool.
Patti had moved away anyway. And
Television was over. And the Void- Oids were over. I saw Lydia standing
on the corner of 13th and A and she had a nose ring. Nobody had nose rings
in those days. I thought she was exquisite. Later I saw her on the plat-
form of the L train at 1st
Avenue. I came barreling down the stairs through the turnstile and nearly ran her over. She stared at me very wide-eyed and I continued on. I became good friends with Lydia many years later and she told me she was obsessed with tall skinny white guys at the time and we were both of age and demeanor where something wild could've definately developed. Who knows what would've happened if I had become Lydia's lover at 18.
The Coachmen broke up and I decided to play the guitar as if I existed in a pure state of mind and could attack it with flowing mindful sensitive energy expression. I knew nothing of jazz, free -jazz, or any studied musical concept of improv isation. I had a ratty skinny-lapel suit jacket (all East Village poor-boypunk rockers had one) and no job.I jammed with this girl Miranda who asked me after our first session, "Do you always play like that?" I wasn't sure. It wasnew to me. She said her best friend was this beautiful artist named Kim. They played music together in a group called CKM which was the two of them and the drummer ChristineHahn from Glenn Branca's trio The Static. I was duly impressed and even more exciting was that they were trying to get Nina Canal from UT to play with them.
Kim wore glasses with flip-up shade and had an Australian sheepdog named Egan. She had an off-center ponytail and wore a blue and white striped shirt and pants outfit. She had beautiful eyes and the most beautiful smile and was very intel- ligent and seemed to have a sensitive/spiritual intellect. She seemed to really like me. I definately liked her but was scared as always to make a move. I was afraid to kiss her. We walked around a couple of times. One night it got late and we were eating at Leshko's and I think she wanted me to ask her over. I only lived up the street. So we parted. She would take the subway staying at gallery owner Anina Nosei's place. Before she split she actually touched my arm! and said "See you later." She moved into a raw railway apartment on Eldridge Street below Grand Street. The artist Dan Graham lived upstairs and had aquired the place for her. She invited me over one eveningand I played this beat up guitar she had. I knew the guitar because it belonged to an associate of the Coachmen gang who left it at Jenny Holzer's loft where Kim had stayed and somehow it was passed on to her. All she had was the guitar and a foam rubber cushion for sleeping. That night was the first time we kissed.