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This story is mostly true.

We are warned tongue in cheek, as the film CBGB opens with some comic book -style drawing and narration, that this is not mean to be a documentary. Shortly thereafter the main character, Hilly Kristal (founder of CBGBs) while still a toddler, tumbles out of his crib to wander nearly 3 miles through rural New Jersey.

The movie is a telling of Kristal’s (played by the late Alan Rickman) founding of CBGBs and, with it, the founding of the New York punk rock scene. I found it funny and entertaining, and a nice way to give some attention to some of the folks behind the scenes of the names we all (at least, those of us of a certain age) know so well.

The movie was hammered by the critics and did poorly at the box office. The criticisms often seem petty. The Ramones sang the wrong song, or the stickers weren’t accurate. One review complained that the Patti Smith song (which was obviously an original Patti Smith recording, not the actress) had a piano in it where the stage setup did not.

Lighten up, Francis.

I managed to make it to CBGBs but once. If I recall, it may have been ? and the Mysterians and, for some reason, possibly some version of the Dickies. The point, of course, was to visit the location, not to hear the bands. It was a long night.

If you lived with any of the music of the 80s and 90s, or quite possibly if you didn’t, this seems like a movie that you would want to see. It’s a shame the reviews mean so few see it. Perhaps, like me, you stumble across this quite by accident, much like the late Mr. Kristol and his iconic nightclub.

 

 

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