Spotlight On Local: George Tabb, Punk OG Talks Books, Terrorism, and Rock N’ Roll

It’s been nearly 20 years since I last spoke to or heard from George Tabb. His voice over the telephone sounds substantially raspier than I remembered. “You have to have your life go horribly wrong to want to do punk rock,” he says, and if that’s the case, then Tabb is punk as fuck.

A nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn, NY, Tabb moved to Greeenwich, CT when he was just 7 years old. This may have marked the beginning of his road to ruin. He didn’t get along with his father and was bullied by the local kids for being Jewish. “The kids there had no idea what a Jew was. They would search my head looking for horns or think I drank baby blood,” says Tabb of the experience. As Tabb got older, he moved to Tallahasee, FL to go to college. Things weren’t much better there. “My college roommate’s father was the Imperial Wizard of the Klu Klux Klan,” notes Tabb. However, Tabb would soon find an escape, playing in his first punk rock band in 1979.

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Spotlight On Local: Mary Zimmer – Behind the Voice

[Photo courtesy of Laura Koeppel. Used by permission.]

When you listen to Mary Zimmer, it’s easy to get lost in the voice that runs from ethereal croons to relentless gutturals. But Zimmer is more than her voice. Working with bands like Luna Mortis, White Empress, and presently Santa Marta, she knows the ins and outs and ups and downs of the record industry, and she’s walked a long hard road to get where she is today.

Zimmer was born in Illinois’ Great Naval Hospital. The daughter of a military family, Zimmer moved about quite a bit, but finally settled in Wisconsin when her father retired when she was a teenager. Despite her incredible voice and range, she wasn’t a natural-born singer. She performed in local theater and musical productions. She was often asked to sing in those productions, but says of it, “I hated having to sing. My voice was rather large and unwieldy, and I was using it a lot but I didn’t get good at it until later. I think kids get put off singing because they don’t realize it’s something they can actually learn and get better at.”

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Spotlight on Local: Wendy Scripps – Godmother Of The Lower East Side

The hustle and bustle of Manhattan is legendary, but I don’t think it is so poignantly captured anywhere as it is on the Lower East Side. A mixture of struggling artists, immigrant culture, historical landmarks, a yearning for a sense of family and community, and an element of crime and danger has made the neighborhood what it is. However, an evolving gentrification has become more and more prevalent throughout the years, pricing out the people that gave the area its character, and many of them have had to move away. Mom and pop businesses are forced to close their doors as the big boys are moving in. Those still standing can do little other than to turn away from eyesores like the 7-11 that now stands on Ave. A. But there’s one woman that’s not going down without a fight.

Wendy Scripps was born in the Bay Area of California, but moved to Manhattan in 1982. Her mother, a Brooklyn native, told Wendy she was born to be a New Yorker. “Once I got to New York, I knew that was where I was supposed to be,” says Scripps. “It fit like a glove.” Scripps’ parents were both active in the art communities. Her mother was a dancer, well ahead of her time. She was a Martha Graham dancer and the first to teach the art of Bharatanatyam (an ancient Indian dance) in America. Scripps’ father was active in the theater community doing stage design, but also loved rock n’ roll music. He began taking Scripps to rock n’ roll shows at a young age.

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Spotlight On Local: CJ Gunn Of The Subtones, Former Guitarist With Marky Ramone

I think most people have a love-hate relationship with social media. But I’m sure many will agree that it’s always fun to catch up with people they haven’t seen for ages. When I first met C.J. Gunn (ne Christopher James Gunya), he was a little punk from Cleveland with a big mouth and a heart of gold. Now he turns up one book, one straggly beard, hundreds of tattoos, and 20 years later. I’d say we had some catching up to do and I was happy to have had that opportunity last week.

Born in Cleveland in 1974, Gunn had a tumultuous childhood and ended up losing both of his parents early on. A natural misfit, he turned to the punk scene for a sense of belonging. By the early 90s, Gunn had played in a variety of punk bands in the area. He was great at networking and ended up getting the attention of many local acts as well as national ones passing through nearby cities. One band that was a huge musical influence on Gunn and whose members would become recurring characters in his rock and roll life was The Ramones. When Gunn heard that drummer Marky Ramone was playing in Cleveland with his band The Intruders, he did everything he could to get on the bill with his band The Subtones. Not only was he successful doing that, but he also was lucky enough to get on two more dates opening for The Intruders in nearby towns.

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Spotlight On Local: Robert Butcher’s ‘American Madonnas and Liars’ Art Show

If you’re wandering around the New York City’s East Village and suddenly find yourself on the outskirts of Alphabet City, there’s a cool little art gallery I know on Ave. A just off of 2nd St. It’s called Art on A. Go in. Check out the art on the walls. If you’re lucky enough to visit before September 22, what you see will be instantly relatable to anyone who can recognize the beauty of a subculture, its decadent allure, its decaying glamour. But those who know photographer Robert Butcher will know that his latest collection American Madonnas and Liars is based on a story that started long ago, born of a lifetime of rock and roll, drugs, and trouble which led up to a suicide attempt and finally resurrection. I was lucky enough to be able to talk to him about what brought him to his latest artistic venture.

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