Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Another Old Time Shot


Max's Kansas City

Max's Kansas City was a nightclub and restaurant at 213 Park Avenue South, in New York City, which was a gathering spot for musicians, poets, artists and politicians in the 1960s and 1970s


Origin of name
Opened by Mickey Ruskin (1933-1983) in December 1965, the name Max's Kansas City does not come from any club owners direct connections to Kansas City (either of Kansas or of Missouri). Mickey Ruskin grew up in Jersey City, New Jersey and was educated at Cornell University.

There are two stories as to how the name came to be, both involving suggestions by the poet Joel Oppenheimer. The first story is that the name commemorated a poetic place described by fellow poet Max Finstein. Oppenheimer and Finstein were among the poets who had gathered at Ruskin’s earlier establishment the 9th Circle in Greenwich Village. The second story is that when Oppenheimer was a kid, "all the steakhouses had Kansas City on the menu because the best steak was Kansas City-cut, so I thought it should be 'something Kansas City.'" "Max" was chosen because it sounded "restauranty."
Oppenheimer also suggested the menu items on the marquee of “Steak, Lobster, Chick Peas

Max's I
After the opening of Max's by Mickey Ruskin in December 1965, it quickly became a hangout of choice for artists and sculptors of the New York School, like John Chamberlain, Robert Rauschenberg and Larry Rivers, whose presence attracted hip celebrities and the jet set. Neil Williams, Larry Zox, Forrest (Frosty) Myers, Larry Poons, Brice Marden, Bob Neuwirth, Dan Christensen, Ronnie Landfield, Robert (Tex) Wray, Peter Reginato, Carl Andre, Dan Graham, Lawrence Weiner, Robert Smithson, Joseph Kosuth, Brigid Berlin, Carlos Villa, David R. Prentice, Roy Lichtenstein, James Monte, Peter Forakis, Peter Young, Mark di Suvero, Larry Bell, Lee Lozano, Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, Richard Serra, Kenneth Showell, Jack Whitten, Philip Glass, Max Neuhaus, Rosemarie Castoro, Ray Johnson, John Clem Clarke, Malcolm Morley, Carl Gliko, Marjorie Strider, Edward Avedisian, Robert Povlich, Billy Hoffman, Michael Steiner, David Budd, Carolee Schneemann, Dorothea Rockburne, Alan Shields, Colette, Lee Lozano, William S. Burroughs, Tiger Morse and Marisol were just a few of the artists seen regularly at Max's - the favorite place for artists in New York City during the 1960s. Willem de Kooning, Barnett Newman, art critics Lucy Lippard, Robert Hughes, Clement Greenberg, and Harold Rosenberg, art dealers Leo Castelli, and David Whitney (whose gallery was across the street) and architect Philip Johnson, occasionally would be seen there as well.
It was also a favorite hangout of Andy Warhol and his entourage from The Factory. The Velvet Underground played their last shows at Max's in the summer of 1970. It was a home base for the short-lived Glam Rock scene, which included David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed and the New York Dolls. Many bands made early appearances there. Bruce Springsteen played a solo acoustic set in the summer of 1972. It was the site of Aerosmith's first New York City gigs, Columbia president Clive Davis signed them there. Bob Marley & The Wailers opened for Springsteen at Max's at the beginning of Marley's career on the international circuit. Tim Buckley, Tom Waits, Bonnie Raitt, Odetta, Dave Van Ronk, John Herald, Garland Jeffries, Sylvia Tyson, Emmylou Harris, Gram Parsons and Country Joe were some of the musicians that played there. Fashion designer Carlos Falchi was a busboy there in 1970.

By 1974, Max's had lost popularity among the art crowd and the glam era was in decline. The legendary establishment closed in December of that year. Ed Koch later had a campaign office in the building.

Max's II
The club reopened in 1975 under new ownership of Tommy Dean Mills, who initially thought he would make it a disco. Peter Crowley, who had been booking the same, early punk bands that played at CBGB, at Mothers, a gay bar on 23rd Street (Manhattan), was hired to start booking bands at Max's.

Under Crowley's guidance the club became one of the cradles of punk, regularly featuring bands like New York Dolls, Wayne County, Cherry Vanilla, The Fast, Patti Smith Group, Ramones, The Heartbreakers, Television, Suicide, Blondie, Talking Heads, The Dictators, The Cramps, Mink DeVille, Misfits, The Fleshtones, The B-52's and Klaus Nomi, as well as out-of-town bands in the same vein such as The Runaways and The Damned. After the breakup of the Sex Pistols, Sid Vicious played many of his solo gigs there. Devo played several shows at Max's in 1977, including a show where they were introduced by David Bowie as "the band of the future."

Max's closed its doors in November 1981. The building survives and now houses a deli.

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Old Times

Ford Andrews