Blank City, Tammany Hall, & Don Hill
Tonight will bring me to Madame Wong’s, that invite-only, pop-up hot spot at 3 Howard Street. It’s an Interview Magazine event for “Blank City,” a feature documentary directed by Celine Danhier. The DJs are JG Thirwell (Foetus), Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs), and Dan Selzer (Acute Records). The documentary tells the overdue tale of the disparate crew of renegade filmmakers who emerged from an economically bankrupt and dangerous moment in New York history. In the late 70’s and mid 80’s, when the city was still a wasteland of cheap rent and cheap drugs, these directors — Jim Jarmusch, John Lurie, Jon Waters, Amos Poe, and many others — “crafted daring works that would go on to profoundly influence the development of independent film as we know it.” So the synopsis reads.
The film, it is said, “weaves together an oral history of ‘No Wave Cinema’ and ‘Cinema of Transgression’ movements.” This is a great party, but beware you must be listed. Madame Wong says they hate saying no, but will if you have not RSVP’d. I’m looking for a date so let me know. The film opens April 6th.
On Saturday night I attended a “Good Life Concert Series” event at Tammany Hall. It’s a great place to see a show. I came to see Slick Rick. The event benefited the Fresh Air Fund and was sponsored by Christian Audiger Vodka, and no I wasn’t there solely for the gift bag. I have always adored Slick Rick, and I actually throw in his “Childrens Story” in my DJ set. It’s always a winner. Slick Rick performed 2 tracks, including that one, but hardly moved a muscle. He was anything but slick. Or maybe he was so slick that it went over everyone’s head. Sometimes people refer to me as a legend, and I always quip: “Every time I’m called that I check my pulse.” Slick Rick is a legend, and somebody should check his pulse. Although everyone loved him, he hardly broke a sweat, and then quickly exited through the crowd. He stopped to thank everyone for loving him, and he brought a smile of nostalgia to many faces. I just wish he had offered something new, and maybe swayed a little on stage. My friend, who had recently booked him, says he gets around $1500 for a show these days. He gets that, and my two cents as well.
The services sending Don Hill off to a better place are being held today and tomorrow. They will be for close friends and family, as space is limited. Many who want to attend aren’t going to be able to. There will, I’m sure, be a memorial event where the thousands he touched will be able to attend. I’m still in shock over the loss. There are a thousand Don Hill stories to be told. Facebook friends are offering sympathies and prayers. Eric Foss, artist and Lit owner, summed up this humble, talented, and wonderful man: “Don came to our 9th New Years party. His staff brought him knowing I would be stoked, and I was. He wondered if he could get in and my friends responded that ‘the owner is honored to open his door to you.’ I sure as fuck was! He inspired, employed, and kept the flame of downtown rock and roll alive. He will be missed. He was one of us. He was New York.” When Eric heard the news, he left dinner to get to Don Hill’s, where those who loved him were showing up to share and survive the loss. The dinner he left was with Zack Williams, who owns the gallery where Foss is having his first solo show on September 11th, 2011. At the dinner sat Robin Williams, Susan Sarandon, and Billy Crystal. Everything and everyone stopped for Don. All our business, our troubles, our partying took a moment to remember a man who had no enemies, and brought so much to our downtown world.