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Two kids in their early twenties walk down the Bowery on a spring afternoon, just as the proprietor of a club hangs a sign with the new name for his venue. The place will be called CBGB which, he tells them, stands for Country Bluegrass and Blues. That’s exactly the sort of stuff they play, they lie, somehow managing to get a gig out of him. After the first show their band, Television, lands a regular string of Sundays. By the end of the summer a scene has developed that includes Tom Verlaine’s new love interest, a poet-turned-rock chanteuse named Patti Smith. American punk rock is born. Bryan Waterman peels back the layers of the origin myth and, assembling a rich historical archive, situates Marquee Moon in a broader cultural history of SoHo and the East Village. As Waterman traces the downtown scene’s influences, public image, and reputation via a range of print, film, and audio recordings we come to recognize the real historical surprises that the documentary evidence still has to yield.

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