Thursday, May 22, 2008

MAD DOG BOOGIE: A young DD on YouTube

Let's go back to 1990. Dick Destiny & the Highway Kings are playing at the 4G's, a seamy bar located in a slum of the washed-up eastern Pennsylvania steel town, Bethlehem. God, Guts, Guns and Glory was what the moniker supposedly stood for -- named by an owner who was an ex-commando. A martial arts magazine with his menacing picture on its cover hung over the bar, lending some credence to the claim. In truth, the owner was an agreeable fellow who gamely attempted for years to make the place into a refuge for musicians whom no one else in a very musically conservative town would tolerate.

And, on balance, the 4G's mostly succeeded in an environment where it was viewed only as a vague annoyance. Through the end of the Eighties and the first half of the next decade, the 4G's played host to most, if not all, of the independent underground rock that was worth listening to along the Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton axis. Sixties-style garage band revival, death metal, straightforward rock-and-roll, art damage -- if someone performed it in the Valley, they could find a sympathetic ear (or ears) at the G's.

The 4G's was also a place where beer was served only in one brand -- and exclusively in sixteen-ounce cans. No draft. Girls and assorted sissies could, perhaps, purchase a feminine drink known as a Grasshopper.

So wouldn't you know it, a memento from that period in time pops up on YouTube, where all old home videotapes come out of the closet.

In 1999 the 4G's was destroyed by fire. The city of Bethlehem bulldozed the ruin, happy to be rid of the place. The south side of town was on its way up and today is a yuppie exurban place of high value, part of the city's great renewal. It may be hard to recall it as a genuine rat-infested slum where people sometimes went to die.

But this video sure helps! The Highway Kings often played to houses full of handfuls of testy scumbags. And twenty years ago the 4G's was the crown jewel of the bunch.

Proprietor of Bona Fide Records in Red Lion, PA, sez DD vid is all right!


Blogger Oli Ward said...

Wow! This video is incredible.

Just discovered your blog via El Reg, appeals to my sensibilities, one for the RSS feed I think.

2:53 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home