Cathy Fitzsimons and Dave
Parsons were a high profile couple during the height
of the NYHC movement and together ran the Ratcage Records
store. Although Cathy is remembered by many who were part
of the NYHC scene, in print she has been largely overlooked.
Dave Parsons remembered that one of the proudest accomplishments
that he and Cathy shared in was "when the Big New Music
Directory came out, The Ratcage got top honors with the
caption "THE" hardcore store
.that was a
book that covered the entire nation." In spite of the
notoriety and exposure, Dave and Cathy were just scraping
by to make ends meet. Parsons bitter sweetly recalled, "that
because Cathy insisted on having one copy of each record
that came through the store we had to sell 5 in order to
break even. If I had charged 25¢ more per single we
might have made the rent."
The NYHC lifestyle was something
that Dave and Cathy took very seriously, and sadly one time
when it was inadvertently called into question; the event
set off a chain reaction that led to the closure of the
Ratcage. In Dave Parsons' words "Frenchy was the one
who broke the camels back. I was already bored with the
fact that I was always stuck at the Ratcage store. We had
to be open all the time in order to catch any business that
might happen by. Meanwhile everyone else was rockin' somewhere
else. Frenchy and a couple of girls came in and sat down
on the floor. Cathy asked Frenchy to get up off the floor.
Frenchy then said, "Oh fuck you, we've made you rich
beyond your wildest dreams. I didn't say anything and Cathy
danced around the maypole with him for about ten minutes.
He did get up finally and left the store."
"After that incident the wheels
turned in my head and it dawned on me that yes, all these
new skinhead hardcore kids saw me as the establishment.
The Ratcage was in full swing when they had gotten turned
onto punk, so to them I was just another shop keeper. They
saw that Cathy and I had a store full of records while they
slept under garbage cans. They didn't know that I was sleeping
under garbage cans and was still surviving on pizza slices
from Stromboli's and french fries with gravy from the 2nd
Ave Deli. A Funburger from Funburger was a delicacy. The
question, 'what the hell am I busting my ass for?' came
into my head and started beating my brain to a pulp with
a sledgehammer. We used to have massive 3 for 2 sales the
last week of each month in order to make the rent."
With doubt about the future of the
Ratcage having been seeded, it was not much longer before
the store closed. Parsons recalled that closing, "I
closed the doors in spring 1984, but continued to sell records
at gigs. My mainstay was the CBGB matinees. At least I was
near the music that got me caught up in all of this in the
first place." It was about this time that Adam
Horovitz was kind enough to put Dave and Cathy up at
his mother's (Doris O'Keefe) place until Dave could find
a new place to live. Fans of Beastie Boys, who have listened
to the historic November 20th, 1982 concert recording, may
recall how Michael Diamond
starts the show by saying thanks to Dave and Cathy. We want
to say thank you too!