Johan kugelberg 400x400 Johan Kugelberg Archivist New York punk hip hop, counter-culture

Johan Kugelberg

Occupation Archivist

Hometown Sweden

Current Residence Old Chinatown

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Since 1988, Swedish-born music historian and collector of punk, hip hop, and counter-culture artifacts, Johan Kugelberg has called New York City his home. His vast knowledge of music has led him to curate more than 100 exhibitions, and write and publish 42 books, including Vintage Rock T-shirts, True Norwegian Black Metal, Born in the Bronx, The Velvet Underground: New York Art, Beauty Is in the Street: A Visual Record of the May 68 Uprising, and Punk: An Aesthetic. When he’s not out discovering new fascinating ephemera, you can find him at his archival company and rare-book shop, Boo-Hooray, in lower Manhattan, or at his “Summer Rental” gallery in Montauk. Among his hobbies: baking, surfing, smoking fish and making homemade beef jerky and sauerkraut.

WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?
The north of Sweden. With elves. Many moose. Winter. Midnight Sun. Northern Lights. Smoked Fish.

WHAT WOULD THE TITLE OF YOUR AUTOBIOGRAPHY BE?
A Day on the Earth.

WHAT CAN’T YOU TRAVEL WITHOUT AND WHY?
For vacation: an excellent pepper-mill and a couple of Loeb’s Classics. For work: super comfy shoes, a pair of hotel room friendly sweat pants and a couple of Loeb’s Classics.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE TRAVEL DESTINATION AND WHY?
Montauk for surfing, Copenhagen for snacking, Tokyo for shopping, Sweden for family.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE THING TO DO ON A SUNDAY AFTERNOON IN NYC?
The first thing that springs to mind is on the couch with NY1 on mute, but more glamorously I’d say visiting an eating establishment that opened at least 50 years ago and riding there on my bicycle with my loved ones.

IF YOU COULD CHOOSE ONE PERSON TO SHOW YOU “THEIR NEW YORK CITY,” WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
Montaigne because whatever his take would be on this city it would be astute.

WHAT OR WHO HAS INSPIRED YOU RECENTLY AND WHY?
Joey Arias who balances kindness and enthusiasm with monomaniacal artistic creativity; the Hepcats at Entrance Gallery, Phil and Shelly Aarons for their glorious commitment to Printed Matter and its mission, Gee Vaucher whether she shares her recent batch of strawberry jam or not; my co-workers at Boo-Hooray; and also as always Sam, Sofia—my two amazing native-New Yorker kids—and my brilliant beautiful hip native-New Yorker wife, chiropractor Dr. Lila Wolfe, who bring the living stoke every day.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE NYC RESTAURANTS? WHAT DO YOU ORDER THERE?
Flor de Mayo: Peruvian spit-roasted chicken, rice and beans, fried sweet plantains, mixed seafood ceviche (spicy), Papaya King: two burnt with kraut and a half n’ half, Nobu: artichoke salad, beef skewers with anticucho sauce on the side and extra anticucho sauce and a rice bowl, sashimi salad.

WHAT’S YOUR GO-TO SPOT IN NYC FOR DRINKS?
Any deli.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE NYC BRUNCH SPOTS; WHAT DO YOU ORDER WHEN YOU GO?
This brunch of which you speak is an odd addition to any usage of the English language I am aware of. But smart-alecking aside, what else is there except for a toasted sunflower seed bagel with garlic butter pre- and apre- surf in Montauk town?

WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR ART FIX IN NYC? DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE ARTIST?
The Metropolitan Museum of Art with no plan whatsoever—just drifting around and then going to Tony Dragon’s impeccable food cart after. Spencer Sweeney, Aurel Schmidt, Sofia Leilani, and Lizzi Bougatsos.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE LATE-NIGHT HANGOUTS IN NYC AND WHY?
After 11pm I turn into a pumpkin, and some mornings I don’t turn back at all. Did meet my wife at Max Fish, though. 

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR UNDER-THE-RADAR MUST-DO RECOMMENDATIONS FOR NYC VISITORS?
Go to the Cloisters, go to Arthur Avenue, go to Zum Stammtisch in Glendale Queens. Set aside more time than you think for the Metropolitan Museum, buy a last-minute cheapie ticket for the Metropolitan Opera, take the subway to Jackson Heights in a state of faint-like hunger. Eat anything that seems appealing.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE NYC STORES AND WHY?
Di Palo’s for cheese and the finest chicken cutlets; Division Leap for rare and curious volumes; Pop’s Army and Navy for lasting threads; Captured Tracks; Academy and Human Head for jamz.

WHAT MUSIC ARE YOU LISTENING TO THESE DAYS? WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE MUSICIANS?
On the gramophone: Maria Callas especially her Rossini operas; Kraftwerk bootlegs; John Coltrane; Träd Gräs & Stenar; Charlie Parker; Back From the Grave, volume 9 and 10.

Favorite musicians is a predictable list: Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Klaus Dinger/Michael Rother, Crass, Wipers, Flipper, Steve Reich, Sun Ra, Mississippi John Hurt, Jac Berrocal, Vince Taylor.

WHAT ALBUM OR SONG WOULD YOU CONSIDER YOUR PERSONAL SOUNDTRACK TO NYC?
“Bourgie Bourgie (Joe Claussell Remix)” by Ashford & Simpson. 

WHEN YOU THINK OF NYC, ARE THERE ANY PARTICULAR EMOTIONS OR MEMORIES THAT IMMEDIATELY COME TO MIND?
When I stepped off the boat from the old country, I thought I was pretty good at chess so I went to Washington Square Park where a 12-year old Puerto-Rican kid took me for 50 bucks in 15 minutes playing blitz. I picked up a streetball game at the cage on Sixth Avenue around the same time thinking that I could shoot hoops and got hit in the face with a basketball like three times in 15 minutes. “Wow, I got to move to NYC,” I thought.

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