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Burning down the house... intervieww with the team

Interview with Mandy Stein, Marky Ramone, and Bob Gruen, "Burning Down the House: Story of CBGB"

The happy and proud director, Mandy Stein, dedicated "Burning Down The House: The Story of CBGB" to her mother, and manager of "The Ramones", Linda Stein, as she stated, "it would have been her birthday today".
(Linda was murdered October 30, 2007 in her home)

Interview with Mandy Stein:

Sharon Abella: Where did your footage come from?

Mandy Stein: "All different places, but Amos Poe, I'd always known about his footage, which is beautiful, to Rick Shores' footage. You know, I just kind of dove in there. Also Hilly Crystal, the owner of CBGB's, was my best resource, he gave me contacts, he helped me out so much."

SA: How did it all begin?

MS: "I just called Hilly, I had known him growing up, and he said, "jump on a plane, let's figure this out? and 'The Ramone's' was always one of my favorite bands."

SA: Where do your interests lie?

MS: "I do a lot of music documentaries, but not all of my documentaries are music driven. I'm actually doing a film on Eddie Antar, "Crazy Eddie", "Our prices are insane". We're also doing another music documentary on "Bad Brains", which is so much fun. I think we will wrap that up by the end of the summer, and HR, the lead singer of "Bad Brains" is supposed to be here tonight.

SA: What are your thoughts about CBGB's turning into a John Varvatos?

MS: "Well, I think it's actually really great, I think John is such a huge lover of music and he did everything he possibly could to keep everything in tact. He's definitely devoted to music and keeping music in that space."
Interview with Rock and Roll Photographer, Bob Gruen:

Sharon Abella: What are you looking forward to seeing in "Burning Down the House"?

Bob Gruen: "A lot of fond memories, great bands, a great place. I don't know, I don't really make a list of the fondest, just going there, having a good time. Blondie playing "Heart of Glass, actually "the Runaways".

Sharon Abella: "Morrison Hotel" is next door to John Varvatos. What do you think of the store?

Bob Gruen: "Someone has to be there. It's better than there being a "Gap".
At least John has a real rock and roll spirit, he's actually got bands playing there once a month. New York Dolls are going to premiere their album there, so there's still a good feeling of music in the place. It's a new place, at least it's not a bank."

Sharon Abella: Your photos are amazing! Which ones are your favorites?

BG: "Well, the one I'm most known for is John Lennon with the New York City tee shirt. Tina Turner, multiple exposures. Everyone has a favorite, it depends on which is your favorite kid, I have a lot of favorites."

Interview with Marky Ramone:

Sharon Abella: What was your fondest memory at "CBGB's" either performing or as a spectator?
Marky Ramone: "Well, the drinks were free, that's what I like, the drinks were free, and Hilly let us play there, and start punk rock. I was with Richard Hell, and the Ramones started the scene. If it wasn't for Hilly letting us play there, there might not have been a Ramones, and if the Ramones didn't played, CBGB's might not have gotten to where they were. You know you had the original people playing at CBGB's, The Ramones, Blondie, Richard Hell, and Talking Heads. These were the real bands that started there.

Fond memory? I have a funny memory, when you had to go to the bathroom, the toilet, there were no doors. I mean, come on Hilly, put up some doors. It really was a place to party. Hilly was like a father, very copesthetic with the artists, he knew their needs. The PA was great, sound system was good, and a lot of good talent came through the doors."

SA: How did you get involved with Mandy Stein's project?

MR: "I've known Mandy for years, and I've known her father, Seymore, for years. Her mother, Linda, was the manager of the Ramone's, so that's how i know her.

SA: Kids still love you!!!

MR: The Ramones appeal to youth, you can't fool the kids, they see that. Ramones' always stuck to their guns, we never changed our genre just to go along with the whims of the music business. Always stick to your guns, that's what I say."
The film starts off with "The Talking Head's" song, "Burning Down the House, and hosts up close commentaries from Jim Jarmusch, Agnostic Front, Social Distortion, Cheetah Chrome, Jesus Lizard, Henry Rollins, John Holdstrom, co-founder of "Punk Magazine", Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth, Bad Brains, The Dictators, Murphy's Law, Cro-mags, Sting, Michael Bloomberg, and offers live performances from The Ramones, Patti Smith, Blondie, and The Talking Heads. It goes on to discuss it's origin, when the Bowery was dangerous and there wasn't anything around except for a few Hell's Angel, to the efforts made to attempt to save it, how they almost moved to Las Vegas, the attempt to make it a Historic Landmark, benefit concerts, how the landlord would not meet with them face to face, and Hilly's deteriorating health.

"If you had a nickel for every ounce of cocaine that was done inside..." "Are you man enough to be a woman" "If you don't want to f*ck me, then f*ck off".

Film showing Monday, April 27, 3:30pm and Thursday, April 30, 7pm

Sharon Abella writes on her blog on


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