Debbie Harry, one of my favorite artists since I discovered her via my cousin in the late '70s, turns 70 years old today.
Like other great chanteuses of the past, she is still touring at age 70. Unlike, say, Peggy Lee, she's not just making appearances, she's bopping around the stage and thrashing her head about, continuing to do the punk rock.
I've seen Blondie perform live so many times at this point, I've lost track. Which is a good thing, and which is a thing I could not have dreamed (even if dreaming was free) in the late '80s, when I first got into them as a group. They were broken up and I was in Flushing, Michigan.
Now, they're not. And I'm not.
Thanks to a freebie ticket, I wound up in the old-persons' seats (great view, side loge).
Excitingly, Debbie spoke about SCOTUS, and ended their set by wrapping herself in the Gay Pride flag:
Debbie sounded great and had a sort of '6os-via-'90s bubblegum-pink dress on. She's turning 70 shortly. Hard to fathom Peggy Lee running around on the stage like Debbie, much less doing the punk rock. They played all their most essential hits and some great new-ish numbers, but I missed the first couple of songs because the geezers went on promptly at 8 p.m. It's okay, I feel I am in geezer territory myself.
Blondie was opening for Morrissey. Never been very into him. “Suedehead” (1988) might be my favorite (he did a great rendition of it two songs in), but I knew I was hoping against hope that I'd get The Smiths' “Girlfriend in a Coma” (1987). I did not.
Morrissey is not exactly a royal-watcher ...!
Morrissey sounds great but without an organic love of his songs, it was a tough slog for me. I appreciated his positive remark about SCOTUS, wasn't as into his sung belief that voting just supports a corrupt system (he isn't into Bernie or Hillary, just Jon Stewart or Bill Maher) and had to look away from the extensive videos of animals being destroyed for meat as he sang “Meat Is Murder” KFC Version. I'm with him for the most part; it's unconscionable how we kill animals to eat, and I gave up eating pigs and cows long ago. But it's also just too hard to watch. That kind of thing instills in me a despair that is lasting.
The night ended oddly, with Morrissey unceremoniously removing his shirt, bowing slightly and disappearing. Lights up.
At one point, Morrissey joked he was shy and said he must've been 12 when he played MSG 24 years ago.
So, as you know, I like to take surreptitious photos of people (okay, men) in public places and post them on my Instagram. It's legal and it's artistic and it's hot and I am resilient to accusations of being a creeper; so what if I am? I have 100,000s of images of men in NYC from the past decade that one day will be in a museum ... of some kind.
Well, tonight I got my wish, which was to be deemed worthy of being photographed in the same way. Of course, the reason I was photographed was my outstanding taste in music, not my outstanding physique, but the kicker is that Vince Clarke's wife was my creeper; she shot my back while I was (frantically) picking up my Blondie/Morrissey tickets tonight.
The only reason I ever knew this is that my old pal from my Jersey days, accomplished journalist Lori Majewski, spotted me in our press seats and just happened to have seen the Instagram post.
House of Tards is the second biggest riot the Stonewall Inn has ever seen.
The revue, by three-person comedy team Unitard, is a series of sketches that do what Second City and SNL have always done, but haven't done well in decades. That's why the show feels classic and brand-new at the same time.
Made up of Mike Albo (who generously flashed scrotum and bare ass the night I saw it for no reason except thank you), Nora Burns and David Ilku, the performers do pieces solo and together. They don't go there, they start there.
Then...they go there.
The show's best bits are painfully funny routines about NYC's dying downtown scene (Debbie Harry, who opens at the Carlyle shortly, was in the front row) and the phenomenon of grief tourists on Facebook who suddenly become a famous person's biggest fan once they're dead. That's Unitard's forte, identifying social trends and deciding, with humor, what they mean.
Unitard has fangs, but everybody has fangs these days. The difference is that Unitard has the brains to know how and when and if to use the fangs, and also the heart to try stuff that is definitely going to rub some people the wrong way.
Precious little of House of Tards fails to amuse (a terrorist stand-up act was both brilliant and gross, but was ultimately too distractingly interesting).
There is no MVP here; all of the performers shine equally, making them one of the best threesomes you'll ever watch outside of your computer.
I was obsessed with Debbie Harry because my older cousin had been into Blondie, so I felt this was one easy way to be cool. Of course, solo Debbie was very uncool; she couldn't even buy a Top 40 hit. But it was too late, I'd bought all of Blondie's albums and was drinking up Debbie's first two solo record, so was dying to hear her follow-up.
I wrote a fan letter to...somewhere. I don't know. I probably found an address in a British teen mag, the only place you'd find a 40-year-old popstar's address pre-Internet. Months later, a gorgeous postcard arrived with a fab autograph on it, urging me (on the back) to listen for a new album in 1989, which turned out to be Def, Dumb & Blonde.
I was livid that the USPS had stamped all over the autograph and picture, but I was also dying that the Greta Garbo of pop was re-emerging soon. I couldn't have even imagined then that Blondie would reunite and embark on tours so often I could afford to skip some of them, and that I would eventually meet her a few times. If the postcard had said that, I might have dropped out of college.