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Farewell: A New York Examiner goes West

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After six years of covering the New York City rock scene for Examiner.com, it is with a heavy heart but promising future that I announce my professional relocation to the city of Denver, Colorado, and the end of my regular position as the New York Hard Rock Examiner.

Like most New Yorkers, I came of age in this towering city of underground tunnels, steel towers and frothing humanity. I crammed into the F train, I elbowed through the tourists of Times Square, I fought the Long Island Expressway and I won.

I crowdsurfed at Roseland, pregamed at Jones Beach, and worshipped at the feet of Metallica, Ozzy, and AC/DC at the almighty Madison Square Garden. I’ve been one of the masses in the mosh pits and one of the privileged few in the photographer pits. I’ve been to club concerts of 80 people and to stadium shows of 80,000, always in awe of the musical talent in front of me and appreciative of the fellow fans next to me.

There is no city like New York City, and there never will be. We take live music for granted - any night of the week, some band is playing some bar somewhere in the five (or at least four) boroughs, and there’s at least a 50/50 chance they’re pretty damn good.

There are more tribute bands in NYC alone than signed bands in most other cities combined. I’ve rocked out to the music of Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Guns n’ Roses almost every month, covered to perfection in the dingy basement of B.B. Kings or aboard a Rocks Off cruise ship in the Hudson by dedicated music lovers gigging on their weekends.

The venues have real history, our blood and sweat and vomit stained into the floors of Irving Plaza, Hammerstein Ballroom, and the late, great Roseland Ballroom. The MSG and Nassau arenas have hosted every single important rock group that ever existed, period. Newer, nicer theaters like Best Buy and The Paramount hold the promise of thousands of more shows, to be broken in by the New York audience one sweaty, sold-out concert at a time.

To be a New York City music fan is to greet security as old friends, to buy a water bottle and a kabob from the street vendors after a night of slamming around the pits, and to know better than to drag a coat to a general admission show without coat check. It’s knowing the closest bars and restaurants to each venue, and knowing just how to smuggle mini bottles of liquor past the door and knowing that no matter how wasted you get, home is just a (pricey) cab ride away.

I’ll miss it all more than words can describe, even as I leave knowing that wherever I may roam, New York will always be right here, anchored off the suburban East Coast megalopolis, full of the lights and noise and grease and madness that would drive any reasonable human insane. And those of us who thrive despite it, who revel in it, who powerwalk crosstown and play chicken with speeding taxis and don’t even smell the garbage anymore, we are called New Yorkers.

I’ll still be a New Yorker in Denver. Fellow drivers will hate me, pedestrians will ask what my hurry is, and coworkers won’t understand why I always keep extra headphones in my briefcase. But I’ll breathe in the clean air, ski the mountain trails, and of course, continue to headbang ‘til it hurts at every metal show that hits the Denver area.

New York, you’ve been great. You’ve been my life, my hopes and my dreams. You’ve made me the man I am today - a thick-skinned, self-entitled loudmouth with a high tolerance for day drinking, and I mean that in the best possible way. I leave you in the more-than-capable hands of my fellow metal writers at Loudwire, NextMosh, HornsUpRocks, SkullNBones, PiercingMetal, and all the other photojournalists you see every week on the other side of the metal barricades.

Keep going to shows and supporting your local bands. Keep going to signings, clinics, and all the unique music events that come only to this marvelous beast of a metropolis. Stay gritty, jaded, and unimpressed.. And if you ever come out the Rocky Mountain Way, hit up a show and look for the photographer unrepentantly rocking his orange and black Mets baseball cap as he navigates the pit, because I’ll be the metalhead bringing New York guts to the Mile High City.

With much appreciation for the bands, the fans, and the City herself,

Elliot Levin
New York Hard Rock Examiner

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