Sunday, April 5, 2009
Bloomingdales in Soho
My buddy is a lawyer and dabbles in entertainment law as a sideline. He was in town and said some band he had dealings with was playing at Bloomingdales in Soho and he wanted to say hi so we decided to meet there and then do our usual thing of a few drinks and dinner somewhere in Manhattan. I didn’t know there was a Bloomingdales in Soho and had to google to find it, hadn’t been in that particular New York neighborhood in quite a while, although there were years where I hung out there and around there quite frequently. Turned out, the cab driver knew it, a lot of people go there. The building was familiar to me. Canal Jeans. This was a very important retailer, back in the day, during the birth of punk days, it was the only place to buy straight leg black jeans, the major fashion statement of the day. Canal Jeans was a freaky, new wave army navy surplus store, sold new and used clothes and surplus stuff. They would dye surplus grenade bags, made of canvas black, a handy urban accessory to carry your paper backs and rolling papers. The band was good, young—the bass player just celebrated his 20th birthday—and they were playing on the 5th floor, a whole floor dedicated to denim. About three dozen folks were there, and right in front of the band was the down escalator, which they were basically playing to so they had to watch a lot of folks walk by and descend. Tough gig if you think about it. They played a very poppy form of punk rock, reminded me of the replacements. So, here we were, two middle aged friends meeting in the same landscape we traversed during our own halcyon era. Except, back then, we would never have been in a Bloomingdales, much less afford the clothes there. Canal Jeans sold the jeans you had to have but it never dawned on them to charge hundreds of dollars per pair. And all the places, like CBGBs, where we would go in our black straight legged jeans were gone. The only place to see the latest iteration of the music our generation discovered was in that department store. The irony wasn’t lost on us. The last few decades, have been one surreal irony after another so the pause that those ironies give us is short lived indeed.