You Can’t Go Home Again: The Ramones & Studio 54 Revivals

I am so confused! These little pink pills and those beige ones that “they” gave me for my “illness” have me hallucinating and lost in space. Yesterday I dreamed that I was hanging with Diane Keaton back in the day and that we were going to see Michael Jackson at the old Copa. This never happened, but it was vivid and real, and I woke up disappointed that it was just a dream. By the way, I was incredibly charming and suave throughout.

In the real-time world, we are often asked to go back to a time and place and see how it really was. Last night it was Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg, and come Tuesday, SiriusXM will seriously try to create — for one night only — the legendary Studio 54. The Marky thing was a Ramones hullabaloo and the Studio 54 thing will include many of the players that made that place so special.

The crowd at Marky’s thing was either old enough to have been there for the real thing, or way too young to have a clue. Blitzkrieg ran through the Ramones set pretty much as it was. A 1, 2, 3, 4 separated the songs, and there was all the requisite head bopping and snarling faces and hair waving. It was not the Ramones. As I sat with Marky in his dressing room, I told him that if they had tried to imitate the legendary band, it would have been like some moving, loud wax museum. It was merely a glimpse of a time that will not happen again for the Ramones, for the aging crowd, for our universe, for me or you.

Today’s youth is equally caught up in scenes as relevant to them as this show was to me and the other gray beards in the crowd 20 years ago. It took me back for a moment to a time when Punk answered every question I ever had. Blitzkrieg can’t answer those questions for me. No band could anymore. At some point you reach an age where the questions get harder and can’t be answered by pogoing, or even drugs. To the younger set rushing about in T-shirts designed before they were born, it must have felt like a peek at a far-off romantic time of punk perfection. I tried to go back to that place in my clap-trapped brain, but just kept finding myself in 2011, unable to be creative enough to let the music take me. Maybe I forgot too much. Maybe that poet was right. Maybe I was so much older then and I’m younger than that now.

The show was great; the mosh pit told us so. The non-real Ramones guys Marky assembled were their own selves. They understand the legacy and are careful to lean on it but not steal from it. I watched the Dee Dee and the Joey and the Johnny and understood that they were meant to die young with their legacy intact. They left us before their crazy dreams could be shattered. They were way too pure, too punk to age gracefully. Legacy is one of those important words like love or respect or honor. Words worth dying for. The legacy of the Ramones is furthered by Blitzkrieg. It was very strange and wonderful to see Vera Ramone, Dee Dee’s wife, who had flown up from Florida to catch her first “Ramones” show in 21 years. Her book is being re-released soon on kindle in a few languages. She looked great, the eternal Rock ‘n’ Roll wife. I’m having dinner next week with Marky and his Marion. We won’t be eating chicken Vindaloo or hanging out on second avenue as the song suggested. We two know we can’t go back again. So it will ironically be at DBGB Kitchen & Bar, just down the road from the distant past.

The SiriusXM Studio 54 homage thing on Tuesday is promising to be real. Well, as real as it can be, considering Ian Schrager, according to sources, doesn’t want to go backwards, and Steve Rubell is no longer around. Carmen D’Alessio doesn’t seem to be there either, but a lot of the players are on board. How can they recreate an era born in disco that died in fire, disease, and jails? Already there are sides being taken and controversy is popping up. Old rivalries are flaring. The competition is about to begin. This just might be a great party after all. I asked a player to be named later (or never)…

SL) Can you or any of us go back again?

PTBNL) No one can go back again. The climate is totally different: AIDS, DWI, cost of living in NYC. The tolls are six times what they were even 20 years ago. The cost of running a space relative to profit is not worth the effort. We were doing $300k per week in ’81 – ’84, with $20k a month in rent. Someone like Ian is too busy with hotels, and this is small potatoes to him

SL) If everyone was still alive and interested, could it be recreated?

PTBNL) Like i said, i think this is really Marc’s gig. This is his only job. Everyone else is just helping out, and as you well know, there a lot of egos involved.

SL) Why isn’t Carmen mentioned?

PTBNL) Who knows. Marc’s probably afraid Carmen will usurp his gig.

SL) Is this event a pre-cursor to a real rebirth a re-opening?

PTBNL) If it does reopen, it would be best suited as a large supper club. These guys at Sirius have boatloads of dough.

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