October 17, 2006

"She pointed out that CBGB was expiring at thirty-three -- the same age as Jesus."

Was Patti Smith sanctimonious as she played the last show at CBGB? I don't know. She also said: "This is not a fucking temple -- it is what it is."

"It is what it is"? Is that a punk saying? Or has Patti been watching "Top Chef"?


Bodie said...

"It is what it is" has been in circulation for years. As I've heard it (and used it) in a business context, it's a reminder to avoid over-analysis, fingerpointing, and any other fruitless deconstruction of an event or situation (usually a negative event), and just deal with it as it stands.

Cedarford said...

Well, no comments on CBGB, but the commentary triggered memories of what a great little cheesy show "Top Chef" was.

"It is what it is" is one of many good quotes of Dave, the frazzled nervous wreck and Drama Queen. "I'm not your bitch, Bitch!" was another.

Another great character was smug Stephen, "tool and douchebag".
And Tiffany, the aforementioned Bitch who grew and nurtured the hatred for her with each episode.

Plus the bowel movement girl, the cusser, the Psycho, the farting Hispanic, nice Leanne who was perhaps the best Chef, steady Harold, the guy who couldn't help checking out his female co-contestant's asses on camera...

Quite the cast of dysfunctionals.

Hosted by Billy Joel's child-bride, smarmy Tom the "master sandwich chef", final guest judge being Lorraine Bracco - who definitely knew what she was talking about but looked like she had spend 3 days without sleep at a Roman feast and orgy.

I can't wait for the 2nd season of this lowbrow delight! It was a riot.

In the meantime, I have to be content with "American Chopper" reruns for now - to savor the Tuefel Family antics.

Anonymous said...

Let me understand this....

Around 1975 Patti Smith gets photographed by soon-to-be-infamous photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and has a hot single on her debut LP, a cover of Van Morrison's "Gloria." Later she has precisely one other hit single which she did not write, but co-authored. The rest of her career is trivia to anyone except punk rock aficionados. She's had one top 20 single. These days she's best known, if at all, for hating President Bush and denouncing U.S. and Israeli foreign policy.

There's another recording artist named Patty.

She's won five Grammies, four Billboard Music Awards, and has released five Gold albums and three Platinum albums. She's won 39 (!) awards from her musical genre's association. She was also inducted into that genre's Hall of Fame in 2004. She is the most awarded performer in the history of her genre and for years played 200 sold-out gigs a year.

Her name?

Sandi Patty.

I've never listened to her, and I have no idea if she's had any "cultural" influence at all. I do know you'll never see her on the front page of the New York Times. She's not the daring darling of the cool counterculture set. She's not an "artist" who rants about the "f*cking temple."

Leland said...

I've heard "It is what it is" used by coworkers. No offense to bodie's view of the phrase, but mine is different. To me, it is a phrase similar to "I give up". Sometimes, it is used rationally, when a person understands that changing the situation may be out of their control. However, most of the time I've heard it uttered, the person simply has given up on the possibilties.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

"Was Patti Smith sanctimonious as she played the last show at CBGB?"

Was Patti Smith ever NOT sanctimonious?

Drew W said...

The "30th Anniversary Legacy Edition" of Patti Smith's "Horses" includes a recently-recorded live bonus disc of all the songs from the album, plus some others. It features a version of "My Generation" in which she scolds her generation for their unwelcome political leanings. She angrily declaims: "My generation, we had dreams, we had dreams, man, and we f-ckin' created George Bush!"

We had dreams, man? Lord, what pompous drivel. Yeah, our dreams. Our shared dreams. Patti knew what they were. (Makes me want to log on to CommonDreams.org for a cleansing dose of wounded white liberal self-righteousness.) And the idea that we created Bush? Oh, that’s right, we're baby boomers. We created everything. I was never a big Smith fan, but I've always liked most of the songs on the album. As one must do so often in pop music, I don't let an artist's na├»ve politics ruin their music.

In response to Prof. Althouse's initial question, my money's on sanctimonious.

Maybe the next time she hits the road she could cut touring costs by sharing a bill with Barbra Streisand.

Ross said...

I've gotten a good chuckle over all the silly sentimentality and wistfulness about CBGB's and its closing. In the footage I saw of the farewell show, the crowd looked pretty tame and respectable to me. Not that there's anything wrong with tame and respectable, but I can't help but smirk at the irony of it; isn't CBGB's (and punk) supposed to be all about "danger" and "rage" and "raucousness" and "rebellion"? Bohemianism turned into a lifestyle.

X said...


So your panties are in a know because the New York Times covers subjects that their readers are going interested in and doesn't cover subjects that they're not going to be interested in. Why did you think we wanted to know that?


I'm not sure that CBGBs was supposed to be about any of those things-- there's certainly not much rage in say Blondie or the Ramones. Would you have preferred that everybody just ODed? CBGB's (like the bands that made it famous) was a fantastic success on its own terms. What's wrong or strange about celebrating that?

Also, does anyone remember back in the 80's and 90's when Patti Smith was a retired legend who'd nobody had heard from since the 70's? Did anybody miss those days?

KCFleming said...

a) Jesus: "Into your hands, I commend my spirit."


Someone needs to tell Patty that not being a teenager isn't the same as being dead.

b) William Safire describes it as a 'tautophrase': "The phrase, racing through the language, shows no sign of tiring. The first use I can find is in the Newspaper Archive, from a column by J.E. Lawrence in the Nebraska State Journal in 1949 about the way that pioneer life molded character: "New land is harsh, and vigorous, and sturdy. It scorns evidence of weakness. There is nothing of sham or hypocrisy in it. It is what it is, without apology."

"It is what it is"
Voted by USA Today as the #1 cliche of 2004

Movie, 2001, directed by Billy Frolick

Song by Usher

Anonymous said...


The NYT puts P. Smith on its front because its editors are going for the cheap, easy, sensational story. CBGB's was an influential nightclub, no question, but I don't think it's a front page story. Giving it front-page play sells newspapers, just as OJ drew eyeballs to cable. More is expected from the nation's newspaper of record.

I hope the NYT runs more rock stars on the top of the fold on its front page. Madonna, the Stones at the Beacon, North Korea, whatever.

reader_iam said...

I can get why the closing is noteworthy and got some play: it's just nostalgia. If you think of the age of a lot of the people in their primes who work in media and overlap the timing of their teen years, college years and earlier adult years with the advent of heyday of CBGB, I think it's reasonable to diagnose the "salad days" effect.

I have to say that when I saw the story, I felt a twinge. The club opened when I was 12, but really started to hit its stride right at the height of my teens. If you lived on the East Coast, especially within roadtrip distance of NYC and you were into certain kinds of music, you heard about it all the time and did your best to make the trek to NYC, if you could.

Not sure I'd give its closing real large play myself, but I can understand it.

Palladian said...

Sandi Patty? Why not go for Patty Smythe? C'mon! "Shootin' down the walls of heartache. Bang Bang. I am the warrior." Can "Birdland" really beat that?

Patti Smith is what she is: a faux Rimbaud who hasn't done a single interesting thing since "Horses". I saw her live about 6 years ago and was amused at how much she looked and sounded like a homeless schizophrenic drug addict, an image I couldn't maintain once I thought about the size of her bank account. I do still pull "Horses" out and give it a listen, though.

Anonymous said...

And for the record I saw her in '77, and I can't remember anything about the show at all.....

For my money, Patsy was better than Patti, Patty, or Smythe...Patsy Cline....

Revenant said...

I honestly had no idea that Patti Smith had ever done anything besides cover Bruce Springsteen's "Because the Night". I'd figured she was just some one-hit-wonder Heart knockoff.

Fenrisulven said...

She angrily declaims: "My generation, we had dreams, we had dreams, man, and we f-ckin' created George Bush!"

No. If you're going to go there, John Kerry was your creation. Loser.

And I've never heard of this woman until now.