A musician’s memoir of punk rock in its New York City heyday shows how much fun it was while it lasted, before AIDS and heroin had the last laugh.
As frontman for the Senders, Marcade never saw his band achieve the notoriety of the Ramones, Blondie, Talking Heads, or others that played CBGBs and Max’s Kansas City, but his memoir has an antic vitality and humor that seem to encapsulate the spirit of those times. Everything seemed so funny—even nodding out from heroin, throwing up from overindulgence, and getting tossed into jail, where the teenage Marcade begins this account after getting busted for dope. A French native, he had come to America for adventure. He found his share and also found himself in the middle of the punk scene that was soon to emerge on the Lower East Side. Everyone seemed to know him and like him—former New York Doll Johnny Thunders brought him from Boston to New York and provided entree. The Clash appreciated him so much that they invited the Senders to open for them at their peak. Marcade was the one who, by his account, told Nancy Spungen to follow her heart to London, where she began her fatal romance with the Sex Pistols’ Sid Vicious. (“You need love, not heroin,” he remembers telling her.) There are a number of hilarious, outrageous scenes involving pets—not just dogs and cats, but monkeys—or parties, and some featuring both, and there is plenty of insider observation: “The Ramones got along great with everybody, which was funny because they couldn’t stand each other.” And there are way too many exclamation points. Ultimately, AIDS cost many their lives and others their sexual freedom. Heroin also took many of Marcade’s friends, his marriage, and his band. Written 35 years after he kicked his addiction for good, the book retains the madcap spirit of that time and place, suggesting how punk happened and why it had to end.
Must-read for those who love that era and want a fresh perspective on it.