Newsletter June 2003

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The Shirts in their new line-up on stage at CBGB's, May 31 2003

Still digging in the distant past of the late seventies in New York (but now connecting them with the immediate present) this month we present an interview with two of the founding members of the Shirts. Artie Lamonica and Robert Racioppo were in the group that was a contributor to the vibrant, some might say legendary scene that flourished in downtown New York at that time. Where other artists went on to fame and fortune, the Shirts shone brightly for a while before fading and disbanding for several familiar showbiz reasons.

However, after staging several ‘reunion’ shows at their long-time home of CBGB’s, the group has returned with energy, a new line-up, and a fresh approach. In interview, Artie and Robert talk about why they persist in doing what they do, what drives them, and they compare then and now. What’s different? As usual, we have a separate page for the audio of their answers.

Also, we extend the range of photographs from that period around 1978, to give a total of 26 classic shots by JR Rost (who was involved in the early development of both the Shirts and the Talking Heads). Authentically yellowed with age, they evoke an enthusiastic and relatively innocent time when a band or artist in New York could pretty much live on thin air while chasing the dream of their choice. Even Park Slope in Brooklyn, long the low-rent artist neighborhood, is beyond reach now. The old ‘shithouse Shirthouse’ has been successfully renovated after the group’s depredations and from the outside looks like a nice little apartment block.

The reformed group played an enthusiastic night at CBGB’s May 31. We also have a few blurry pictures.

We apologize to anyone with an America Online E-mail address. AOL, in their infinite and elephantine wisdom, now block all mass mailings from a broadband computer connection using an E mail program. This means us. We have switched to an alternative mail system with this new note. We resend May’s newsletter for those of you who were shut out. Thanks, AOL, for continuing the venerable showbiz/new technology tradition of abusing your customers. They’ll be suing us next, if the record companies’ treatment of students (surely potential purchasers) is anything to go by.

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