Max's Kansas City was a restaurant and a nightclub in the area now mainly considered almost Gramercy and north Union Square in Manhattan. The Spot was a gathering place and hangout for musicians, artists, tastemakers, even politicians and saw many countless other types from the 60's, 70's as well as the early 80's. Max's witnessed some of our popular culture's most influential people. From Andy Warhol and his factory to The Velvet Underground, The Ramones, Bowie, Bruce Springsteen, Robert Rauschenberg, Bob Marley, The Sex Pistols, The New York Dolls, Bowie and a monstrosity of others. Many of the bands and people in our culture that the world is familiar with met there for the first time. They cross pollinated and mutated in a melting pot of style and socializing.
There was a period in the 1910's and 20's that housed this in Greenwhich Village with people like Eugene O'Neil, Max Eastman, John Reed and some great writers and artists; The Bohemians. Then the Beats of the 40's and 50's with Ginsberg, Kerouac, Burroughs. That period led to the sexual revolution, the revulsion of 50's suburban facist (McCarthyism) values and wasteland dreams in lawn care and houses and cars which all masked the image created to repress and keep you thinking things are all "A" okay and that sparked the "hippies" and a whole lot of other great minds and movements along with it into the 70's. The 80's and the 90's saw a spiralling down of a lot free thought and movements, and now our generation makes those eras and times one's of nostalgia through shows on VH1 or recreating the fads from eras out of a lack of innovative and forward creativity.
This was New York... Mickey Ruskin brought them all together, the cool people, the artists, the rockstars, the business men in suits, the wannabees, the junkies, the models, the transvestites, the locals of the neighborhood all under one roof. Curently even in our so called "recession" of a shitty time and global crisis, I don't see anything even close to this in Manhattan. The melting pot became a place for trendy people all wanting a taste of nostalgia. A spot to shine and make it like Madonna or a Warhol (Of course this has almost always been the basis of New York City and is the lifeblood of America as a whole). The city became inflated and mad expensive. Giuliani cleaned up the streets kicked out the quote on quote "garbage" and allowed the corporations to come in and make a mockery and Disney Land of Times Square and many other parts. The life blood has been draining... The energy has been wanning and now the Soho neighborhood that once housed some of the world's greatest artists at $170 a month now houses million dollar rents for retailers like newly opened Top Shop to house it's cheaply made over priced tacky trends to the scores of tourists and wannabee followers alike. Mannhattan was duped in a sense... We still have some old timers and some influentials here wanting what Max's Kansas City had. Nowadays it's an all too real indication that "change" is inevitable and we need to find ways to make things happen for the better. Sometimes I have to ask myself... In cleaning up New York City and trying to make it a better place to live and visit... Did we actually destroy what it stood for and what it meant and why it was so magical?
My point is that it may never be the same and probably won't be and Manhattan will always be "The City"... But in a scene of dying dreams and endless bottle service, nights of money wasted on flaunting one's lack of substance and urban so called success, we need to wake up and reinvigorate things... Where are this generation's tastemakers, the new set of influentials, from the streets to the bars to the libraries...
What do we need? Perhaps we need to wake up and breathe new life into things. Maybe we need a new Max's Kansas City. They used to say, "The revolution will not be televised" the revolution will happen in the streets, the bars and coffee shops and nowadays I feel through globalization it starts online.
Andy Warhol and Nico at the table.
Bruce Springsteen's early album titled Max's Kansas City and one of the many recorded there live.
Madonna early performance at Max's 1981.
What Max's Kansas City looks like now... Just another random Deli/Cafe/Market.