SEPTEMBER 12

One colleague compared the ’77 New York punk scene to the ’20s Algonquin Round Table clique—all talk and booze, but few great works came out of it. The overall greatness depends on who’s firing the cannon. But on reading Please Kill Me, an “uncensored” oral history of that era culled by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain (pictured), you could easily take the theory at face value. Dorothy Parker once said, “If nobody had ever learned to undress, very few people would be in love.” Upon first meeting Patti Smith, Jim Carroll said, “She came over the next day and that was when we really met. We made it that day, as I recall.” Parker has been described as a 20th-century Miss Havisham. Jim Carroll on Robert Mapplethorpe’s early work: “It was like something out of Great Expectations, Miss Havisham’s wedding cake.” The comparison also speaks to those expectations—Parker ended up in Hollywood as a frustrated screenwriter, and Smith was in cutout bins and detox by 1980. Whatever happened, there is still a difference in punk and pop that has yet to be explained. Cyrinda Foxe sets the scene at Johnny Thunders’ funeral in ’91 (“the year punk broke”): “I was so sorry that it wasn’t my ex-husband Steven Tyler lying there instead of Johnny Thunders. Steven just stood there going, ‘It coulda been ME!’ I said, ‘How dare you, how dare you! Johnny hated you! He hated you!’ Oh, I was sick. I was foaming…” Hear the difference when McNeil and ex-MC5 great Wayne Kramer speak, read, and talk about sex at 7 p.m. at Olsson’s, 1307 19th St. NW. FREE. (202) 785-1133. (Jason Cherkis)

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