Annual Fundraising Appeal
Over the course of 21 years, we’ve published many unflattering stories about Henry Kissinger. We’ve recounted his involvement in the Chilean coup and the illegal bombings of Cambodia and Laos; his hidden role in the Kent State massacre and the genocide in East Timor; his noxious influence peddling in DC and craven work for dictators and repressive regimes around the world. We’ve questioned his ethics, his morals and his intelligence. We’ve called for him to be arrested and tried for war crimes. But nothing we’ve ever published pissed off HK quite like this sequence of photos taken at a conference in Brazil, which appeared in one of the early print editions of CounterPunch.
100716HenryKissingerNosePicking
The publication of those photos, and the story that went with them, 20 years ago earned CounterPunch a global audience in the pre-web days and helped make our reputation as a fearless journal willing to take the fight to the forces of darkness without flinching. Now our future is entirely in your hands. Please donate.

Day12Fixed

Yes, these are dire political times. Many who optimistically hoped for real change have spent nearly five years under the cold downpour of political reality. Here at CounterPunch we’ve always aimed to tell it like it is, without illusions or despair. That’s why so many of you have found a refuge at CounterPunch and made us your homepage. You tell us that you love CounterPunch because the quality of the writing you find here in the original articles we offer every day and because we never flinch under fire. We appreciate the support and are prepared for the fierce battles to come.

Unlike other outfits, we don’t hit you up for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it.

CounterPunch’s website is supported almost entirely by subscribers to the print edition of our magazine. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads.

The continued existence of CounterPunch depends solely on the support and dedication of our readers. We know there are a lot of you. We get thousands of emails from you every day. Our website receives millions of hits and nearly 100,000 readers each day. And we don’t charge you a dime.

Please, use our brand new secure shopping cart to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription our monthly magazine and a gift sub for someone or one of our explosive  books, including the ground-breaking Killing Trayvons. Show a little affection for subversion: consider an automated monthly donation. (We accept checks, credit cards, PayPal and cold-hard cash….)
cp-store

or use
pp1

To contribute by phone you can call Becky or Deva toll free at: 1-800-840-3683

Thank you for your support,

Jeffrey, Joshua, Becky, Deva, and Nathaniel

CounterPunch
 PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558

Haute Bohemia The Disney-fication of CBGB

The Disney-fication of CBGB

by ALEXANDER BILLET

There is something obscenely wrong with what sits in the former location of CBGB. Some of what defined the legendary rock club remains; a few walls are still covered with fliers and graffiti. But the stage has been replaced with a tailoring shop: the kind you see at Brooks Brothers. And the floor where kids once danced to Television and Bad Brains is now filled with clothing racks adorned with $1600 leather jackets.

That’s because the place that was ground zero for the New York punk, hardcore and No Wave scenes, is now home to a boutique for high-end fashion designer John Varvatos.

Varvatos, who has designed for Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein, seems at least somewhat aware of the hallowed ground on which he now stands. He has attempted to integrate the look and feel of CB’s into his new store. He promises to hold a fundraiser for young musicians in May. Varvatos told the New York Post: "I wanted to combine music, fashion, memorabilia, and really make it a cultural space."

The question is, whose culture is he talking about?

There’s always been an attraction among the affluent toward the culture of the "underclass." The austere, bohemian ethos of living outside the accepted parameters of society is enticingly romantic and edgy. And yet, anyone living in an urban area today can rattle off the laughable ways in which yuppie-dom has tried to appropriate this lifestyle: "loft" style apartments, complete with exposed concrete and piping sold for 400 grand; pseudo-hipsters who spend $75 to make their hair look like they just rolled out of bed. And from Williamsburg in Brooklyn to the Mission District in San Francisco, the once safe-havens of Bohemia are being encroached upon by developers and spineless city councils. Their promises to retain the "flavor" of the neighborhoods ring hollow.

Enter Varvatos. In trying to pay tribute to the iconic CBGB, he has made it impossible for any of the former regulars to return, even if they wanted to. His idea of a nod to the Ramones is selling special edition Chuck Taylor All Star tennis shoes… for $110!

Robert Hollander, a resident and community activist in Manhattan’s East Village, hit the nail right on the head: "It’s kind of ironic because they’ve made this gesture to preserve a little bit of history, but the reason CBGBs is gone is because places like this have opened up in the neighborhood."

Indeed, CB’s has been one of countless casualties of the new urban policy. When owner Hilly Kristal closed the club in October 2006, it was against a backdrop of skyrocketing rents, forced evictions and police crackdowns. The city’s willful neglect in the 70s and 80s had allowed the Lower East Side to become an incubator of punk rebellion and artistic experimentation. "The sense of self and new energy was instantaneous," says Patti Smith, "the confidence it inspired was strong, and the sense of community was immediate. William S. Burroughs lived down the street. He came all the time. We gave him a little table and a chair, and he’d sit there. All of our friends came — Robert Mapplethorpe, Jim Carroll. CBGB was the neighborhood — the artists and poets and musicians — and we all inspired each other."

The gears shifted in the 90s. As more developers made their way downtown, squats were cleared out to make way for condos, apartments that had gone for a few hundred were suddenly worth thousands. True to form, CB’s landlord started demanding tens of thousands in fabricated back-rent from Kristal. Callous seems to be an understatement when talking about shutting down this kind of cultural hub, but this is the NYC of Giuliani and Bloomberg. And policies designed to mow over working people’s very right to exist certainly don’t give two thoughts to the culture trampled in the wake.

Herein lies the sick irony. The very same exorbitant rent that forced Kristal to shut it down is mere pocket change to Varvatos. Alice Cooper, whose gold records now adorn the walls of the new Varvatos boutique, thinks it’s a chance for the rabble that frequented the club to move up the world: "now all the old CBGB punks will become the best dressed CBGB punks in the world." As most of these same punks were pushed out of the neighborhood long ago, it’s hard to believe they’d come back to pay $130 for a t-shirt.

It’s only one of the myriad cultural tragedies in the age of the Shock Doctrine. An artistic community that altered the course of history is brushed aside and replaced with its feeble, Disneyland equivalent.  It’s happening in every city, to every artist that lives on the fringe. No matter what Varvatos says about paying homage, his store’s mere presence can only be a reminder of the creativity and enthusiasm crushed under the iron heel of the free market.

ALEXANDER BILLET is a music journalist, writer and activist living in Washington, DC. He writes the music blog, Rebel Frequencies. He can be reached at rebelfrequencies@gmail.com.