Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Thursday, June 29, 2021

disco art
July marks the thirtieth anniversary of the publication of Nik Cohn’s “Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night” in New York Magazine. The article, which served as the direct source material for Saturday Night Fever, was presented as a non-fictional frontline report on what was going down with New York clublife in 1976. The rest is Tony Manero/white-suit-dancin’ history.

Funny how such an era-defining cultural artifact was based on fabrications on Cohn’s part:

…a combination of New Journalism extrapolating and deadline-pressure riffing. “At the time,” Cohn later wrote, “if cornered, I would doubtless have produced some high-flown waffle about Alternative Realities, tried to argue that writing didn’t have to be true to be, at some level, real. But, of course, I would have been full of it.”

But hey, weren’t large chunks of that decade, essentially and conceptually, made-up anyway? Like they say: If you can actually remember the Seventies, then you weren’t really there.

James McMullan was really there, though. He accompanied Cohn on some field research, and remembered enough to come back with photos, sketches, and paintings of the club scenes in those Brooklyn discos (detail from one featured above). He also caught the underlying mood, relaying the reality that Cohn couldn’t/wouldn’t:

What [McMullan] saw was a world not of disco glitter but of melancholy yearning. The real [Bay Ridge disco 2001 Odyssey] “was like a tired old supper club,” he says, “that had quickly, but not entirely, been converted to a dance club.” (In the paintings, much of the club’s floor is covered by a dingy, rec-room-style carpet, so vividly captured you can practically smell it.) He used a flash for the photos, and “the flash revealed all this stuff that in the dim light you weren’t able to see. Particularly in the backgrounds. You saw people’s non-party faces, as it were.”

The paintings now stand as a kind of unofficial storyboard for the film: the real film, the gritty, vaguely hopeless one, not the smoke–and–Bee Gees cartoon that persists in memory.

The dance floor never looked more somber in literal portrayal. Which, in a way, makes the sunnier nostalgic memories somewhat inevitable.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 06/29/2006 11:32:08 PM
Category: Publishing, Pop Culture, Movies, History | Permalink | Feedback (1)


How many chances does Radar Magazine get? Maer Roshan’s much-hyped, yet seldom-published snark machine is coming back hard again after finding renewed financing.

Plans call for an online launch in about a month, and a print re-incarnation of 6-10 issues during 2007. That would be an achievement, as the previous runs of Radar yielded a grand total of five issues.

This time, the magazine might just stick around, because plans are for it to be a cornerstone of a budding media concern:

In [Jesse Jackson’s son, Yusef] Jackson, Mr. Roshan has found an ambitious investor looking to build a media portfolio beyond Radar. Mr. Jackson, 35, said yesterday that Radar would probably not be the last media outlet he acquired, but he said he did not have a short list of companies. “I pray that this is the first of several acquisitions.”

In 2004, Mr. Jackson and Mr. Burkle tried unsuccessfully to acquire The Chicago Sun-Times. They also teamed with a group of investors last year to buy the Washington Nationals, but lost out.

Here’s an acquisition candidate for Jackson: The Village Voice, which is in editorial turmoil of late and would do well with a dose of new ownership. Two New York-based pubs would be a fine foundation for a media play.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 06/29/2006 10:17:28 PM
Category: Publishing, New Yorkin' | Permalink | Feedback