THE BRAZENBLOG IS BACK! I'm Ray Brazen and this is the relaunch of my blog which I had on Myspace from '05 to around '10 or so. Of course, when those douchebags changed their format, they automatically eliminated their blog feature, instantly wiping out mine and everyone else's hard work forever. Unlike the original, this Brazenblog will be somewhat different. It'll still concentrate on my current happenings, but along the way I'll tell stories about some of the legendary events in rock history I've witnessed over the past 40 years or so. You will thrill to tales of everything from my earliest concerts to my discoveries of certain bands. I also plan to finally write my memoir regarding my years as creator of raybrazen.com, which I started way back in '97 to champion the causes of classic bands both at home and in Mexico. And you will be dazzled by all of it, I promise. So strap yourselves in and enjoy this first piece... all about my very first visit to a nightclub, and oh, what a club...
I still don't know how I persuaded my parents to let me go. But a very old diary of mine confirms that somehow, on August 28, 1980, just two and a half weeks after I turned 15, I managed to secure their permission to accompany my high school punk pals to Max's Kansas City. I guess it helped my situation that Mom had met some of them and concluded they were nice boys. What she didn't know wouldn't hurt her.
But when me and my friends got there, via bus and taxi, I began to wonder immediately what I'd gotten myself into. Presumably we had gone to see the Rattlers, a band who featured Joey Ramone's brother Mickey Leigh and who had a big local hit with a song called "On the Beach." But as soon as we got there, we were instantly approached by some scruffy, shady guy who asked us quite loudly, "Anyone here wanna buy some quaaludes?" A couple of my pals did go for them as I watched in mortal fear of this man, and grew even more scared when he approached me and repeated his quaalude question. I just sheepishly replied that I wasn't into drugs (yet)... and he responded by giving me a gentle pat on the head (I was a short and very skinny dude!) and saying "Smart boy!"
I felt better when we got upstairs and inside. There was an atmosphere inside Max's that couldn't be denied, the air of history mixing with the breeze of this very night. I feared we wouldn't get in, but lo and behold, not only did we get in, but I soon discovered we weren't even the youngest ones there! Going to the bar for some soda, I got into a conversation with some kid who couldn't have been more than 11 or 12 years old and was totally into the Max's scene! We talked for quite awhile and he introduced me to the now-legendary space rocker known as Von Lmo as a video of one of his live performances ran on the TVs at the bar. Wtnat a moment that was.
I sat with my friends, got talked into having a beer (a Heineken, which I only drank half of), and waited through the first band, who I hardly remember, but I do recall it was a thrill to finally be experiencing that punk energy firsthand after all those years of hearing and reading about it. One of my friends got a little too far out there on the 'ludes and accidentally cut himself with a broken beer bottle.
And then the Rattlers finally went on... and we had to leave. The last bus back to our little Jersey town was soon to depart, so we had to start our hustle back to the Port Authority at that very moment. At least we got to see their first one and a half songs as we scrambled to avoid being stuck in NYC until sunrise. My drunk and 'luded friends were mumbling stupid shit all the way home. I was the only sober party, having barely even gotten a buzz from half a beer. Somehow we all made it home by 2 AM.
My folks, of course, had been unable to sleep. They asked me how it went and I of course was unwilling to reveal any details other than "Oh, it was cool." They were amazed that I was able to get in without even so much as an ID and then said, "Did you drink anything?" I didn't think it was any big deal, so I said, "Oh, I had like half a beer." Dad immediately turned to Mom and said, "He won't be going THERE again!" I wasn't about to spill more details after that. If they knew the only thing I saw there that was legal was the live music, I'd probably have been grounded for a month.
Dad's orders meant that I had to decline my pals' invitation to return to Max's a few nights later to see Johnny Thunders, a "show" I later heard Johnny himself didn't bother to attend. Or maybe they had to catch the last bus again, I don't know for sure. Max's closed the following year, while CBGB went on to grab all the fucking glory. No night I ever spent at CBGB had half the magic of my night at Max's, not even the two times I actually stood on their stage.
I only went to Max's once. But I still recall the minute details like the DJ playing "Remember (Walking in the Sand)" by the Shangri-La's, and Alfred E. Neuman's "It's A Gas" (burp) and the guy at the bar who yelled out "Carrasco!" when a video by Joe "King" Carrasco came on the TV and how cute the waitress who brought us our drinks was and even what she looked like. Some nights, you just don't forget the slightest detail of. And with good reason.