No New York: A Jade Anniversary


Logan K. Young in 3:AM Magazine:

(You mean you don’t own a copy? What are you, sick or something?)”

– Lester Bangs, “A Reasonable Guide to Horrible Noise

May 5-6, 1978. For once, it really did happen so fast. All of it. Rather literally, too. Blink, bat an eye or go take a piss, and you probably missed it. (Those things worth remembering, anyways.) What a bummer. Indeed. If you weren’t there, then you just don’t know. Alas, such is life; you have to seize it while ye may. But even if you were around (and you truly were doing it right) you still don’t remember. (Or at least you shouldn’t.) The ones that claim total recall, well, suffice it to say they’re lying. They have to be. For No Wave was the one, true Blank Generation. Yes. It took Aristotle’s tabula rasa, and with one flailing swipe per Attali, all the rest was noise. Noise being code for negation — a deliberate dithering of all things affirmative — No Wave is then best described not by what it was, but instead by what it wasn’t: no shirt, no shoes, no problem. No fucking future. None at all.

But what’s really in a name? No, seriously? It’s a simple enough inquisition. The line is straight, ‘tis the answer what’s crooked. Ensconced in the void plied by these otherwise nameless, at-risk kids, that inquiry becomes a near tautology. Is the thing now the name? Dunno. Is its name just a thing now? Ibid. So, like Beckett’s L’innommable, perhaps anything longform on No New York is primordially flawed. We shan’t go on; we shall go on. On y va! After all, there’s music, movies and mores left to kill. Still. Janie, get your gun.

To be fair, such existential quandaries didn’t matter to a group like Mars. Meanwhile, a band such as D.N.A. couldn’t be bothered. Likewise, not a single epistemological shit was given by Teenage Jesus & the Jerks. And The Contortions, umm, they were just too cool. Sorry. Basically, they were all looking only for a light. But what we’ve come to call ‘No Wave’ wasn’t anyone’s beacon. That’s for damn sure. A raging burnout in a left-for-dead New York City, nah, it was not built to last the night. Everything about it (the look, the feel, the lifestyle…the savagery) was ephemeral. On purpose, no less.