When I was a teenager, my father used to go into NYC for business on a fairly regular basis, and he would always be willing to stop into a record store or bring me a copy of the Village Voice, picked up at the newsstand at Grand Central. (This was before I could drive, and could go get my own copy at the newsstand at Bull’s Head in Stamford, the only place in town I knew of that carried the Voice).
One day he walked in the house and handed me a copy of this magazine.
“You like Bruce Springsteen, right?”
“They were out of the Village Voice but I saw that and thought you’d like it.”
It was like he had handed me the keys to the kingdom. I had heard about Rock Scene, somehow, but it wasn’t the kind of thing that made it to the suburbs and I’m pretty sure it never dawned on me to subscribe — subscriptions were for things like Rolling Stone, which I believe I got for my 15th or 16th birthday (before that, I had to go to the library to read it). But Rock Scene? I knew it was full of photographs of the Ramones and that Lisa Robinson ran it and that the New York Dolls were practically the house band.
A few months later, an otherwise very quiet and unassuming coworker at my after-school/summer job came in one day and when no one was around, handed me a large manila envelope. Inside was a stack of back issues, the good covers, the Mick and Iggy and Joey covers. I don’t know how she put two and two together. “Don’t show them to anyone here,” she said, whispering, “But I used to hang out at clubs in the city.”
Don’t let the gossipy format fool you; they had the best writers and the best photographers (Bob Gruen!), and for all of its “The Ramones Help Danny Fields Move!” (I walk by that building on 4th Avenue, the one just south of what’s now the Walgreens, and think of that photo essay EVERY TIME) – it was a glimpse into a world I was never going to be part of by virtue of my parents not having met each other early enough to have had me in enough time to make it there. But it was mindblowing and aspirational in the best way, you read it and you wanted to be there, you felt like you were there, you felt like you could be part of it. It was the very definition of “I’m gonna get on that train and go to New York City and I will never return! Oh, watch me now.”
So this collector has digitized the entire run of Rock Scene and instead of coming to my apartment and paging through the issues in the archive boxes in the closet, you can read them in the comfort of your own home. And I hope you do.
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