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Cathy Fitzsimons

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!

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