I remember leaving the kitchen window open a bit, when I left for work as night manager of Bandito’s, the small Mexican restaurant on 2nd Av between 9th and 10th St, to keep some fresh air in my 4th floor railroad flat on 13th and A. Bandito’s had just 40 something seats and a bar seating about 12, but it had two frozen Margarita machines and the bar was sometimes stacked three deep. Everybody who worked there was a musician, actor, dancer, performer, filmmaker; you name it, like many people in the East Village at this time. Once a month Chad came in after we closed and completely redecorated the place. The clientele was mostly denizens of the neighborhood, but we had model agencies coming all the way from uptown to hang out and let us watch the super models get slushed on Margaritas; also the occasional celebrity like Diana Ross or Bill Wyman. I remember a bunch of cops getting drunk and obnoxious, before just walking out on their bill. Who do you call then? Sometimes, after closing and clean up, we turned the lights down and had a few drinks and on occasion we had an impromptu jam session. We celebrated the release of my band East of Eden’s first 7” with a raucous party, having moved out all chairs and tables. When things got slow, I called some of my musician friends and bought them some drinks to liven up the place.
This evening was fairly quiet, which allowed me to take my brother and his fiancé home to my place after they had just arrived at Bandito’s landing at JFK from Germany. They had decided to get married in NY a few days later. I opened the door and new immediately that I got robbed even though there was no clear sign of a break in. All the windows that could be reached by the fire escape were untouched and neither was the door. The kitchen window was wide open though; something that I never would have done during the winter; I just had left it open a crack. You couldn’t reach it from the fire escape. The only way into the kitchen through the window would have been by a rope from the roof, past the 5th floor, pretty sketchy, or through the door with a key. Since nothing was forced or broken, was it an acrobat or the super maybe? I had no idea, but wasn’t going to involve the cops, since I still was not legal at the time.
A quick check showed that my ES 335 and my Les Paul Special were still there. A small broom closet in the kitchen was were I hung my long coats and the guitars were always stashed behind the coats when I left, except my acoustic, which still sat on its stand in my living room. All my camera and stereo equipment was gone though. It wasn’t the first time I was broken into. The other time was when I was still in the New York Niggers and lived with Leo Faison. We always left our guitars under the couch and when we got robbed they took everything including pennies, but left the guitars. It is hard to prevent people completely from busting into your place, but most burglars are in a hurry and if you can slow them down to get to your most valuable things you might as well.
My brother and his fiancé decided to check into the Gramercy Park hotel, which wasn’t that upscale back then. They did get married at City Hall a few days later and we had dinner that night at the Windows of the World.
There is always another side to every event and the light at the end of this tunnel was the benefit my friends put on at the Pyramid on Ave A and 7th a month or so later. It allowed me to replace my camera and turntable, but most of all it was a unique and fun night with 7 or 8 bands, some put together especially for that night.
There had been rumors throughout the years that someone had taken a video that night. You’ll have to remember not everybody had a video camera and was a photographer or cinematographer, like today. A few weeks ago somebody posted the flyer of the benefit on face book. It looked like a flyer I had designed, but I didn’t even have a copy, though I have almost all the band posters I created.
Someone asked about the video and surprise, it does exist. A FB page was created and now we are getting to see what happened that night in small bits and pieces. It is like a TV drama that keeps me in complete suspense. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I enjoy seeing my old friends coming together like this, watching them perform and back stage, which is equally delightful.
The facebook page has videos of the event, with new ones coming on line about once a week. Most pictures above are stills from the videos:
Here is one of the blogs I wrote about this time in New York with lots of pictures and videos: