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Senile Saturday— RIP Maxwells

"Where's TW. She was supposed to meet me here."
"Where's CK. She was supposed to meet me here." Can you spot TW in the photo?

It was late 1978 when a young woman walked into the little club in Hoboken, NJ. She'd been to some clubs in NYC but read about this place closer to home in the Village Voice. As she gazed at the framed poster of Patti Smith over the jukebox and then saw the selection of songs on the jukebox, she knew she had found a home away from home. Over the next 15 years or so, the young woman, now known as The Woman, would be hangin' there just about every weekend. The club was Maxwell's, which is set to close for good at the end of next month. Since this is Senile Saturday, I'll let TW tell you a little about it.

The Bongos outside Maxwells. Photo by Phil Marino.
Like everyone else who hung out in Maxwell's little back room—capacity 200—I have some glorious memories of the little rock club that could. It's safe to say Maxwells served to shape the music I still listen to and CK spins at #Nipclub. I'm going to list some for you.
  1. Seeing  bands such as New Order, R.E.M., the Replacements and Flipper in that little room. 
  2. Making friends with musicians from local bands the Bongos, Feelies, Winter Hours and Cyclones, some of whom are still my Facebook friends.
  3. On a work night, going into NYC with the rest of the "regulars" to see the Bongos first NYC gig at Max's Kansas City (the 2nd Max's) and coming home early the next morning drunk as a skunk. That was a special night.
  4. Meeting my future editor, Jim Testa, who had just started a fanzine called Jersey Beat. He asked me to write for it. Always an outcast, I was now hanging with the "cool crowd" at Maxwells and interviewing cool bands.
  5. Getting invited to a private party the owner Steve Fallon threw for R.E.M. in the apartment upstairs from Maxwells where the out-of-town bands stayed.
  6. Dancing in a conga line with the Fleshtones' Peter Zaremba. The Fleshtones were always a fun show.
  7. Witnessing the Young Marble Giants only U.S. appearance. They broke up after the show. The Trypes, a Feelies' spinoff band opened for them.
  8. Having Husker Dü as house guests in 1984 and getting a hug and a kiss from Grant Hart as all the young punks stood around envious.
  9. Michael Stipe and Syd Straw wishing me a Happy Birthday from the stage during the Golden Palominos' show in 1986 and having Winter Hours dedicate a song to me.
  10. Stealing someone's boyfriend during a New Year's Eve party. Heh-heh.
  11. Playing softball with members of Yo La Tengo, dBs, Wygals one summer. I was terrible.
  12. Smoking a "funny cigarette" with Vic Chesnutt. RIP Vic.
  13. Dancing, dancing, dancing to the opening band, going outside for some cool air and a Mister Softee; then dancing, dancing, dancing to the second band. The club wasn't air conditioned in the early days.
  14. Seeing hundreds of amazing bands over the years AND getting to be part of the birth of the independent music scene in America.
My biggest regrets were not getting to see Nirvana and Jason & the Nashville Scorchers' appearances.

On a given Friday and Saturday night, I could usually be found near the DJ booth in the tiny back room. Those were great years filled with awesome memories. Maxwells was once voted "Best Rocknroll Club in NYC" in New York Magazine even though it was in NJ. RIP Maxwells. It was great knowing you.

CK again. What the Sam Hill? I let you write something and THIS is what you come you with, Woman? Pure fiction! I'm ruined! No one's gonna read this junk. Ahem. Sorry you had to hear that, furrends. Frankly, I think The Woman made all this up. She's always been boring and she'll always be boring. I don't believe for a minute she ever smoked a nip cigar. Am I the only one who thinks she's lying?

SPECIAL OUTTAKE! Thought you'd like to see an outtake from this blog.

Would you like to comment?

  1. It's always hard when we outlive our memories.

  2. Wow. The Human is in awe of your Human, CK. We didn't know yours was SO MUCH cooler than mine. My Human likes to think of herself as having been a cool-ish twentysomething back in the day...but Michael Stipe??? I don't know if the Human worthy enough to even read your blog anymore! I mean, *I* am, of course, but I dunno about her.

  3. Our mom says she was boring and had no where near the fun yours did.

  4. Maxwell: WHEWWwwwwww...not being insensitive or anything, because I'm a sensitive kinda cat and I know how you humans like your fond memories and all, but that blog post title gave me a bit of a heart stutter at first....

  5. I had no idea your human was hanging with those people, CK! Some of the same people MY human knew on the West Coast. She was a rock photographer in the 1980s and shot Husker Du and the dBs and probably Syd Straw too (although she was hired by the label and does not have the negs). Peter Buck famously hated most photographers and for some reason, my human reveled in being annoying to him. Probably because she secretly had a crush on him and was SO jealous that a friend of hers was dating him.

    In fact, my human probably went to Maxwell's in 1992. She knows she went to some club in New Jersey that year with some pals who had a gig during that trip back east... and where else would they have played, after all? She's bummed it is closing. Are all the cool venues out there gone now?

  6. Wow what fun times your mum must have had Keisha and what great memories. Have a super Saturday.
    Best wishes Molly

  7. Well that is very sad that Maxwell's is closing.

  8. I think those are cool memories CK! My Dad used to have some cool memories too but he has forgotten most of them!!!

  9. What amazing memories TW has of that place! We're sure she'll miss it a lot.

  10. Our Mommy says she's lucky her 20's were boring (!!!!) or she'd be pushing up daisies by now! TW did some AWESOME stuff.

  11. Most of the places I went when I was young are already closed. It's hard to see them go.

  12. M says she really led a BORING life in comparison. The most she can claim fame to is meeting Liberace's stepfather in Mad Town! Woohoo! Now everyone is going "who is liberace?" ha ha Glad TW had those opportunities and took advantage of them. What great memories!

  13. Either TW is totally cool, or she has a fantastic and totally cool imagination! We're sad to hear Maxwell's is closing it's doors. :(

  14. CK, we're with you, we could care less what TW did in the past, but the mom thinks it is WAY cool what TW did!

  15. CK, the humans are always talking craxy!!

    My human says she even recognises some of those names!!!

  16. Of course us kitties don't care at all and we are with you, CK, totally boring.... But, the human, well, that's a whole other story. She is thoroughly intrigued and thinks TW's memories are really awesome. She is also very sorry to hear a place of this caliber is closing...if only the walls could talk! Purrs from the Zee and Zoey gang!

  17. We're a little surprised that you do not have a meow- mate named Maxwell. It is so so hard to let go of a good thing and watch something you loved come to an end. Mom says that she's glad you have these great memories no matter what CK says! Purrs and hugs, Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth and Calista Jo

  18. Glogirly's WAY impressed!!! ...and I'm a little impressed TW was smoking nip before you ever came on the scene, CK!

    Pretty cool memories.
    RIP Maxwells.
    ...and aTonk's Tail Maxwell? Take a breath. You've still got 8 lives after all. ha!

    ; ) Katie

  19. TW, that is awesome, and I am way impressed with your secret life. Really, I think CK is a little jealous! So sorry it's closing, but so glad you have all those memories to share. When the 70s turned to the 80s, I turned to alternative too, and I would have let the crowd walk on me to hear all those bands live!

  20. Wow your human is so cool! What great memories...sorry to hear the pace will be closed. I'm sure many people will miss Maxwells.

  21. Your human had a LOT more fun than MINE!

  22. whoa!! CK!! Your TW is like, well, like a legend!! How totally Mom Linda thought she was "rockin' cool" just cuz she saw Gracie Slick and the Airplanes perform at the Fillmore Ballroom in '66 when Mom was going to CAL!! Across the bay...those were some really rockin' San Francisco...The Avalon, The Fillmore...and Carol Doda! The Purple Onion...Smothers! Mom Linda wishes she had seen as much as your TW...long live the memories, paw hugs, Savannah and Mom Linda

  23. Wow CK, TW sure sounds like she had a pretty pawsome time back in the day! Too bad her pawty joint is closing down :/

  24. Oh we do venture to bet that TW DID smoke a nip cigar for sure...That disguise will save you though...

  25. I love this post CK...Thank you for letting TW share these amazing memories...You may not want to admit it, but TW was totally kewl!

  26. Me and mom LOVED to read about TW´s all memories from Maxwell´s !
    So you can take that silly disguies of right away CK :)

  27. Such great memories! One correction: Young Marble Giants were actually on an American tour when they played Maxwell's. They'd just completed a West Coast tour, and played a couple of select shows in NYC right around the time of the Maxwell's show. Their Hurrah! set from a couple weeks later is actually available on DVD. Also, the opening act was the Cyclones, not the Trypes. (I've seen a Maxwell's flyer to that effect, perhaps even in the Colossal Youth reissue liner notes). Sadly, my first trip to Maxwell's was half a decade away - I was 14 years old and stuck in central NJ at the time. Gonna miss it.

  28. My DadKatt keeps TRYING to see the Fleshtones wherever they show up and, for one reason or another, he's never made it to a show! So he'll be in awe once he reads this!



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