The CHEEPSKATES live at The DIVE - R.I.P. JD Martignon, owner & founder of Midnight Records

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Michael Stark - Editor: Trashbeat

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Michael Stark on bass at The Dive

Bridge and Tunnel Clad in Paisley
(But damn, how some of them could dance)
   Teary eyed and sentimental, listening over and over again to "Those Were The Days, My Friends" on my little, lost close'n play as I write this obituary/mash note/magnum opus to the Dive, the club where many life changing and affirming moments transpired - although being plaster castered by a sweet tag team of Germanic groupies was sadly not amongst them.
   As we move forward, please, give me grace with the facts and figurines as I was rarely sober during the go-go garage punk Eighties.
   My group, The House Pets, was probably the first of the Long Island garage bands to play The Dive. We brought quite a few newcomers into the scene, including the Sparks crowd (the Huntington club that spawned The Mosquitos, The Plastic Device, and The Secret Service) and the NYU art and journalism majors, where I went to school. These were the gals you guys slept with, and the guys who gave your bands good press.
   I remember that our first headlining gig at the Dive was with the Raunch Hands. This was set up by Bruce of Venus Records, where I spent way too much of my daddy's money. There was a bit of commotion 'cause Johnny Ramone came down to see us, and Steve Wynn dropped in to see the 'Hands. Even back then we understood the concept of calling in a few famous friends to create a buzz.
   I fondly recall Glenn's handwritten ads (chock full of secret messages) in the Village Voice, and his impromptu trumpet playing if a band really sucked. By the end, he started hitting on a few of my bandmate's girlfriends. This kind of thing just wasn't done on honorable Long Island!
   We often played on the Gore Gazette nights, which was actually quite trying as both guitarist, Evan Shore (now of Boston's Muck and the Mires), and I were easily creeped out and shared a pathological fear of driving. After a screening of "The Evil Dead", we got lost somewhere on the way to our Huntington rehearsal space on an especially spooky patch ripped right from the movie. This was during a time when graveyards in the area were being dug up and desecrated for supposed satanic rituals. There was much gnashing of teeth and wetting of pants that night. See, we really suffered for our music.
   Playing on Gore Gazette nights also had its bonuses. I met hero Herschell Gordon Lewis and got to see the American premier of a documentary about a farmer who really adored his pet pig. If you were not there, you really missed a moving, interspecies love story. Rick Sullivan really had classy, impeccable taste.
   Although we drank heavily at the Dive and at the Deli across the street, I believe the real imbibing and fellowship took place at an old man bar called The Dug Out, which was closer to our NYU dorms. There was a cartoon in the Village Voice about "Lowlife Scum" which pretty much described the sloppy drunk, record-collecting cognoscenti, who closed the place nightly. Many bands were hatched there, including Stinky and the Skunks, which was me, John Fay of the Tryfles, Tony Matura of the Optic Nerve and Rob Nissendorf of the Pods. Here I must give a shout out to John Fay, my brother from another mother, who was (probably), the only soul I've ever met without an ounce of guile.
   Okay, stay on course. Fondest memory from the Dive Days was just how funny the audience could be. How they screamed out the nuttiest things. Mod Monday's Ed Newman and fan-boy, Jeff Shore, shouted some excellent one-liners during the shows that I was trying to tape. Sure, it wasn't exactly the caliber of the Algonquin Round Table, but for a bunch of young, drunk and stupid college kids, ya' gotta' give 'em some kudos.
   This captured during a Skunks show. We're tuning up and people are yelling out songs.
   Ed:  "American Pie!"
   Me:  "We're trying to get some American pie after the show."
   John: "He really is, the little Fellah."
   At the Dive, the bands were the fans and the fans were the bands. Everybody came out to see everybody else. The scene was made up of real music lovers, and zealots, impeccably dressed and some could really dance. Remember Pat Lozito?
   And even though the garage scene borrowed from the punk ethos of "Anyone could do it", many of the musicians could really play. Peter Stuart and Jim Gange were incredible bass players. Mike Chandler and Rudi Protrudi were gifted with stage presence. Ken Anderson of the Optic Nerve, was probably the best drummer I've ever played with. I was always a sucker for a fat Farfisa, so the Cheepskates and the Stepford Husbands really rocked in my book. Perhaps with better management or better mojo, more of these bands would have made it. Why only the Smithereens??? Why not the Mosquitos???!!! Rudi, you with an open line to Satan himself, couldn't the dark prince get you a better record deal?
   I repent now for all the teasing I slung at Mick London and the Jersey Mods. Mick was an inventive guitar player and years later we played on a Midight Records Xmas album. He became a bud. I also regret never recording with the Skunks. John wrote some really mature songs that are now lost forever. Shame. I'm proud that Evan Shore, who I have played in bands with since junior high school, has kept the Faith with Muck and the Mires. I wasn't there, but I heard they took the cake at the Little Steven Gig held recently.
   Oh well, I'm taking up far too much of your hard drives, waxing nostalgia on a scene that pretty much existed just to wax nostalgia.
   I do miss you guys. Glad to have re-connected with many of you through the forums at www.garagepunk.com . May God bless you all, and may you never have to sell off your records again to make rent.

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Michael Stark on bass at The Dive

MICHAEL STARK on Facebook

Paul Martin - Guitarist: The Vipers

Michael Chandler - Singer: The Outta' Place, The Raunch Hands

Blair Buscareno - Editor: The Teen Scene

The Secret Service

The Bohemian Bedrocks

David John Herrera - Guitarist, Vocalist: The Cheepskates

Peter Landau - Drummer: Swamp Goblyns, Da Willys

John Fay - Guitarist, Vocalist: The Tryfles, Stinky and the Skunks

Jordan Tarlow - Guitarist: The Outta' Place, Fuzztones

Jeff Cuyubamba - Photographer

Charles Billy Harmon - Dive patron

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