This Weekend: Work & Play All of Labor Day

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It seems to be happening fast. Last night I felt comfortable going out in my leather jacket; the temperatures easily allowed it. There was a hint of cool air in the wind, and traffic was nonexistent. I could park anywhere in my ‘hood. I had a Kojak spot in front of the house. New Yorkers were off to elsewheres, grasping at the last straws of summer. Union Pool’s patrons included last-gasping college types partying hardy before they were off to dorms in exotic locales where they will surely party just as hardy. The small talk was all about "what are you doing for the weekend?" As for me, I’m headed out Monday to DJ poolside at The Montauk Beach House.

My plan (and I never plan) is to play all surf rock, from Jan and Dean to the Ventures to the Tandems, Beach Boys, and Dick Dale – heavy on the surf guitar instrumental tracks. I’m bringing along a bikini-clad go-go gal for effect. I might drive out on Sunday morning and crash at a friend’s. I want to catch the DJ setfrom Julio Santo Domingo. He is the founder of Sheik ‘n’ Beik parties and record label. They throw events in New York City as well as in Miami, London, Paris, and Barcelona. It’s going to be techno music for the socialites…  not my usual cup of tea but since it is the end of summer… I may upgrade from that cup of tea. Besides, while not teetotaling, I get to hang with pal DJ and The Montauk Beach House booker Terry Casey, fast friend DJ Kris Graham, and the awesome DJ Brigitte Marie who, with a bunch of others, will be on before and after sir Julio. I’ll pop by Ditch Plains Beach, where surfers will be trying to catch that last wave of the season. The trip home should take about seven hours of bumper-to-bumper. Amanda will opt for singing “99 Barrels of Beer” rather than listen to my mixed tapes …again. Although it’s hard to have trouble in bumper-to-bumper please be aware that the roads are dangerously full of party animals who truly believe that they can
drink and drive.

Last night I dined with Marky Ramone, his lovely Marion, Jonny Lennon, and Adam Alpert at Gran Electrica, 5 Front Street, in Brooklyn. It was all fun and games ‘till the food came and then it was hard to concentrate on anything else. It was outside and wonderful and the war stories underneath the ivy were so much fun. Mark, the last of the Ramones as I knew them, is enjoying considerable success in his "post" career with his band Blitzkrieg and all sorts of other spin-offs and endeavors. The best benchmark for success, as I see it when I get to hang with him, is the all apparent love and respect and admiration he shares with Marion. I met them, we figured out last night, over 34 years ago. They have never wavered. He has never allowed the awe I have for his career interfere with our friendship. Jonny and Adam are my DJ agents and they must be good at it because I’m spinning three times this week…The Montauk Beach House on Monday, Hotel Chantelle tonight, and Bantam tomorrow. I will move off my usual rock offerings at all three gigs and serve up some Michael Jackson, who was born on August 29th, 1958. I read that, according to The Guinness Book of World Records, Michael Jackson was the most successful entertainer of all time. I guess that depends on how you define success.

10 Years Later: Remembering Dee Dee Ramone

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It was 10 years ago today that my friend Dee Dee Ramone passed. I was in the joint and a buddy told me the news. I had lent my buddy the autographed copy of Dee Dee’s book Legend of a Rock Star: A Memoir: The Last Testament of Dee Dee Ramone that Dee Dee had sent me to kill some time and say hello. I always wondered how he got it together to get it to me. I remember how helpless I felt, being so far away from the street when I heard the news. Normally I’d be on the phone or on the corner dealing with it, with others who were dealing with it. But at that point, I was far away and with only one buddy to give a damn. Dee Dee had played my club SPA with his latest band and I had missed that too.

He was in Hollywood when a death, long predicted by many, came as a surprise. His addiction finally demanded payment. I will dine with Marky next week, the last of those Mohegans that I knew personally. He’s been touring with his band Blitzkrieg, doing mostly Ramones covers. His bass player yells 1, 2, 3, 4 before each song and it makes me sad. Dee Dee’s tombstone is not far from where Johnny lays at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. It has the Ramones seal on it and the line from one of his tracks: "I feel so safe flying on a ray on the highest trails above.” On the bottom of the stone "O.K…I gotta go now" is inscribed. It’s been a dozen years since I last saw him and I think of his bad-boy energy and his friendship and the endless conversations we had in front of the Chelsea where we both lived for a time …where he was always hanging, waiting for something, maybe just a hello or a chat or something else to calm the seething just under the surface.

The first time I saw him was at the club MY FATHER’S PLACE out in Long Island. My date was into punk, I was into jazz. She was stoooopid hot and I aimed to please. I knew of the Ramones as they werefrom Forest Hills, a hood just a bike ride away where the girls were pretty and their brothers didn’t know where I lived. We were in striking distance of the stage when the show began. We were unexpectedly shoved up front by a surge of inhumanity. Dee Dee was inches from me and he pummeled me with noise, sweat, and an occasional stray finger as he slammed his bass and screamed 1,2,3,4 one song after another. He tossed me a Ramones guitar pick which I gave away a couple years ago to a dude from a local band. He will cherish it.

It seems longer than 10 years. It seems like a lifetime ago. I’m sorry if you missed Dee Dee and the Ramones. They were grand. O.K…I gotta go now.

———–

This Thursday, June 7, from 6pm to 9pm The Hole Gallery (kathy@theholenyc.com) which is constantly showing work that interests me is offering PORTRAIT OF A GENERATION, June 7 – August 10, 2012. One hundred artists "who make up the art scene" are exchanging portraits of each other. Three of my favorite people on earth – Erik Foss, Clayton Patterson, and Bijoux Altamirano – are contributing.

 From the release:

"This massive exhibition will serve to give image to a community of people, both renowned and emerging, who are dedicated to making artworks. The works will be hung salon-style on our walls of Gallery 1 and 2, and include painted, drawn and photographic portraits."

Marky Ramone On His Legacy, Pasta Sauce, and Gelato

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I mentioned the other day I was heading to The Bell House to catch Marky Ramone’s band Blitzkrieg. Outside was a food truck with a prominent display of MARKY RAMONE’S MARINARA PASTA SAUCE. Inside, a mixed bag of oldies but goodies mixed with the hip kids with hoodies. The band was banging one Ramones hit after another with a trademark 1-2-3-4. letting you know that one track had ended and another had begun. Mark. the last of the Ramones as I know it, was slamming his drums while his bandmates did their own thing rather than imitations of the departed Joey, Dee Dee, and Johnny. Looking up at the stage made me sad. My brain wandered back in time to some show somewhere with all of them leaping and posing and punk rock and rolling into a frenzy. Although I was happy to see this as live as it’s going to get, it made me pine for my punk past. Backstage, I quipped with Marky (whose real name is Mark Bell) if it was a "coincidence that they were playing The Bell House. "Right," he answered. "My friends think I bought the place."

Marky’s off to Europe and Asia where huge crowds will gather to get a taste of legend. Tommy Ramone was the original drummer and did the first couple of albums, but then gave way to Marky who, by all accounts, is one of the best drummers out there. It was Marky who did most of the touring, providing a steady beat behind the mayhem of bass player Dee Dee and guitar hero Johnny. Joey’s deep vocals and uncanny timing are not evident in the current shows. Blitzkrieg’s lead singer Michale Graves’ higher-pitched voice and twirling angry punk bad boy act is in sharp contrast to my memories of Joey’s steady lean-on-the-mic approach. It wouldn’t have been right for Michael to do Joey. Michael had to do it his way and that’s ok by me.
 
There has been some controversy regarding a book called Commando: The Autobiography of Johnny Ramone. I saw an interview with Johnny’s widow Linda who I never had beef with although I never much respected either. In this interview, she discounts Marky’s role in what has to be described as disgraceful revisionist history. I haven’t read the "autobiography," but I am wary of the content. As I remember it, Linda was banned from the shows for a while when it was found out that she had cheated on her then-boyfriend Joey to carry on an affair with Johnny who she eventually married. Although that bothered many, it never bothered me because love takes us all on strange journeys and she was there with him to the tragic end. My beef now was her calling Tommy the true drummer of the band and refering to all the other Ramones, including Marky, as basically hired guns. I have no beef with Tommy either. In the 15 or so years I hung out with the band, I only met him twice and I’m sure he doesn’t remember our quick hellos. Linda’s memory and perspective are different than mine. I, after all, wasn’t fucking or fucking over half the band. My memory, backed up by Wikipedia and some other sources, has Tommy quitting the band in 1978 and Marky taking over.
"Marky was with the Ramones for the next five years. He was asked to leave the band in 1983 to conquer his periodic drinking. He returned in 1987 and played with the band up until their retirement in 1996."
That’s the bulk of Ramone’s career and it seems difficult to deny that. Another bit from Wiki:
"In October 2001, Marky appeared on MTV accepting a lifetime achievement award presented by Bono of U2 to the Ramones. Marky Ramone’s hand prints are on the Hollywood Rock Walk. In March 2002, Marky was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, at New York’s Waldorf Astoria as a member of the Ramones."
Whoever’s good enough for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is good enough for me. The politics that plagued the Ramones in life haunts them to this day. Marky continues to write Ramones history with Blitzkrieg while it seems others may be attempting to rewrite history for their own purposes. I, of course, loved Johnny and look forward to reading his book.
 
I exchanged questions with Marky as he was heading off to tour but didn’t ask him about the book -that can wait.
 
The Brooklyn show brings you back home… You and your brother Freddie were raised in Brooklyn. Will lifelong friends be on hand, or has the road taken you far away from all that?
Don"t think the road has taken me away from childhood friends. Life goes on, and luckily you make new friends. I did see a few people last night from school/ the old neighborhood, but they were just acquaintances. I run into more old friends when I play on the West Coast!
 
What’s up with your not-so-secret sauce?
All these years, while going overseas, the local promoters always take the band out to eat in the best place of wherever you happen to be. Whether it’s sushi in Japan, steak in Argentina, pasta in Italy, I have become what’s now called a "foodie."  My grandfather was also a chef in NYC at the 21 and the Copacabana, and when I was a kid, on Sundays we would cook for the family.  learned how to make tomato sauce for spaghetti as a cheap and filling meal when I was a teenager just starting out in the business. A couple of years ago, Tony Bourdain asked me to be on his show No Reservations, and then I meet Daniel Boulud; both encouraged me to get into the food business. I always admired Paul Newman’s product line, so I figured why not?  Now I also have a gelato in over 100 countries called "Marky Ramone’s Cookies," cause it’s got chunks of chocolate cookies crunched up in the gelato. Both products support various charities.
 
When are we going to DJ together again?
Would love to DJ with ya…I love to hear good music on a great loud sound system. It’s always a fun night for me.
 
What is the Ramones legacy?
The Ramones legacy is that we always knew the show/music was the best. And that time proves we were right.
 
What are you going to be when you grow up?
Luckily for me, I have always earned my living "playing," so thankfully I don’t have to grow up!! In fact, I have to leave for the airport now to go play in Greece, Hong Kong, Vientnam, China, and a few other places I will think about when I get there…..
 
My own personal rock and roll revival has me heading tonight to Hellbent Tuesdays at Ace Bar to visit my dear friend Jamie Lynn and to hear music by DJs Ian El Dorado and Marty E. Thursday, before I head off to join Sam Valentine and Michael Tee, and DJ my version of rock classics and the "danuchit" at Hotel Chantelle, I will head to the Tribeca Grand Hotel. There, another happening centered around yet another dead rock star will tempt me.
 
The Morrison Hotel (gosh there’s a lot of "hotels" involved with rock) and Grandlife present Jesse Frohman: Kurt Cobain exhibition after party. The Virgins are performing and Sailor Jerry Rum will sponsor delicious cocktails. Music will be provided by Jarvis Cocker (PULP), Jason Buckle (Relaxed Muscle), Mike Nouveau and Tennessee Thomas.

The Last Act: Model and Singer Bebe Buell On Closing Down Hiro Ballroom

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Hiro Ballroom will close its doors after Saturday evening’s bash, and with it goes yet another venue where rock, as we know it, could strut its stuff. The clubs, for the most part, feature hip hop, electronic, and house because those formats are featured by the bottle-buying public. Rockers drink bottles of beer, not bottles of Goose. Rock will be relegated to the cracks where it does better anyway. The closing of Hiro will not dampen the talented forces of rock and roll, but may force them into the creative cauldrons of Brooklyn. Marky Ramone’s band Blitzkrieg is headlining the perfectly imperfect venue The Bellhouse this Sunday, and so it will be. Rock won’t retreat or hide under a rock; it will simply wiggle to where it is wanted. It will survive where NY’s culture thrives …off the L train or the J or the F or someplace just a hop, skip, and a jump away via a Northside Car. The last hurrah of Hiro will be headlined by rock icon Bebe Buell. Known more for who she has famously slept with, sire Bebe offers rock purity from rock royalty as the Hiro doors ache to be shuttered. To get you to a place of understanding Bebe is Liv Tyler’s mom and has been linked over the decades with stars like Steven TylerTodd Rundgren, and Stiv Bators. Bebe is too often the subject of gossip because of her association with so many boldfaced names, but she is very much her own person and has her own talent. I once told her that she wasn’t cool because the rock stars dated her…they were seen as much cooler because she dated them. She liked me for that. She’s a busy Bebe but we squeezed in time between rehearsals to chat at the BlackBook office.

We are here because it is a sad day in the rock and roll world; Saturday is the last night of the Hiro Ballroom, which is one of the venues where cool bands have been playing for the last number of years. It’s going to be changed. The last act, the last night, is this coming Saturday and Bebe Buell is performing. Tell me about the band and tell me about what it means to you to close down the Hiro Ballroom.

Well, when I put my last album out before "Hard Love," which was "Sugar," it was Hiro Ballroom who gave me a platform to get back on stage again. I hadn’t been on stage in a while and so they are like family to me. It is one of my favorite rooms. I’ve done three sold-out shows there, and this one that I’m doing Saturday will be the last one. And there were quite a few bands in the city that wanted to close it down and I just stayed out of the entire thing, but they asked me if I wanted to do it. So I was really—a great honor.

So who is in the band?

Well I have Pete Marshall and he played with Iggy Pop and Glenn Danzig. He played with Iggy for years. He started as my bass player and now he is my second guitar player. I have Jimmy Walls, who was in D Generation for their last tour. He is the other guitar player. On bass I have Keith Roth. I had Enzo Penizzotto for my album; he played with Joan Jett for eight years and came back to me. I just lost him because he got the Memphis tour, you know that Broadway musical Memphis? He just got the whole touring thing. He is going to be going on the road with that so now I’ve got Keith Roth in my band, which is a real plus. He is also a radio guy. He does the Electric Ballroom and he also does Sirius. And I have Louisa Bradshaw on backing vocals; I have Sarah Tomek, a young girl from Asbury Park, on drums. And then I have on keyboards, my baby, I love him. He’s the baby of the bunch. Well he and Sarah are both the babies—Zac Lasher—and I found him

from a jam band, believe it or not, called U-Melt. I really saw his talent and I knew I had to get him in my band for obvious reasons. Juilliard protégé; he’s a genius.

How long have you been playing rock and roll?

That’s funny! What a question. My first band I started in 1980 and I made my first record in 1979/1980 with Ric Ocasek from The Cars. The Cars played on my first album “Cover Girl” on Rhino. And Rick Derringer, remember Rick Derringer? Yeah, he produced a couple of tracks. It was actually an EP.

At one point I was gonna say you are a rock and roll coochie-coo. You’ve got rock roots.

I do. I have absolute rock roots. I actually came to New York City because my mother sent my high school graduation picture to Eileen Ford, and the next thing you know I was on an airplane. And I would have gotten to New York any way I could. So if I was going to get here through modeling, I was going to get here through modeling. But as soon as I got here, I got into lots of trouble. I wouldn’t really call it trouble.

Well some of that trouble is what made you famous!

I discovered Max’s Kansas City. I started a very long-term relationship with Todd Rundgren. We weren’t married so we lived a very crazy Bob-and-Ted-and-Carol-and- Alice lifestyle, which I wouldn’t recommend for anybody because it is emotionally draining. It took me about six years to actually get a band together and really get down to business.

The other day you told me something that was very funny. You said that most people think that Steven Tyler gave birth to Liv – that Liv actually came out of his penis.

Which is funny because for a lot of my career, you know, people have always called me the girlfriend of, the mother of, etc. And it has just become, almost, a giggle at this point. I don’t get upset about it; I don’t take it personally. I find it very one-dimensional. First of all, it takes two people to date. It takes two people to make a child. And the way the media works in our country, the person who has the bigger name is the one that gets the credit for everything, including giving birth. In Europe, it’s a whole different story. I love America; I live here. But I have always gotten more respect in the UK and foreign countries.

Well I said to you that, you know, some people think they are cool because you dated all these rock stars. And I said maybe they were cool because they dated Bebe Buell.

I don’t look at it either way. I think people date who they date. You meet somebody…it’s chemistry! I can honestly say that I have never dated somebody as a social or a political move. I have always followed my heart and have only dated people that I loved and that I really had feelings for. I’ve turned down some pretty big dates, trust me. Warren Beatty! When I met Shirley MacLaine –  a lot of people don’t realize they are brother and sister – I went to one of her spiritual things; you know, she talks a lot about metaphysics and past lifetimes and things. She used to do these wonder seminars. And I met her afterward and I looked at her and I said, “You know you and I have something in common." And she looked at me and said, “What’s that?” I said, “Both of us have never slept with Warren Beatty!”

Well, there is a funny story with that. Shirley was on the Johnny Carson Show and Johnny asked her, “ As you are Warren’s sister, you are aware he is famous for sleeping with all these starlets. Is his reputation warranted?” And she said, “Well Johnny, I think that Warren has slept with every starlet in Hollywood except me, and I’m not so sure about that."

Oh, that is hilarious. She’s funny and, of course, she has never slept with him. I have to say: Warren has very good taste. I met a couple of his girlfriends and now his wife, and he never went there. He never went with any riff-raff. He is not a bottom feeder.

Bebe Buell

I met you at a Stiv Bators show, a The Dead Boys show, at my father’s place in Long Island a long time ago. I was sitting with a beautiful girl and you were actually sitting at the same table as us and we didn’t watch the show. We were just watching you. You were the most amazing person we had ever seen and you were very, very sweet. I have always told everybody that you were the sweetest person to us. You made us feel like we were friends of yours.

Well I think it is important to make people feel comfortable and at ease when you are sort of the hostess at an event. 

You told me then and you told again recently, that the thing about Stiv… he was this firecracker, an incredible performer, but also – as well as being incredibly talented – he was very intelligent.

Very smart. What people don’t realize is that he was just a small-town boy from Ohio. He was just a kid that went to see Iggy Pop. He handed him a jar of peanut butter and the rest is history. You know, but in some ways, he was even a more agile performer than Iggy Pop. Some of the things Stiv could do, I don’t think Iggy could do. Stiv could wrap himself up like a pretzel; he could hang himself. He could do all kinds of things. More like Alice Cooper. 

But Stiv was probably one of the sweetest, nicest boyfriends I ever had. We drifted apart. Stiv and I were like—my visual—we were sort of like a rock and roll, punk rock Sonny and Cher. I was a good three heads taller than him. He was extremely funny and when we were together we sort of had a banter like Sunny and Cher did. We would just tease each other and we had this crazy banter. In the end, we ended up becoming really good friends. Our romance peetered out and our friendship expounded, if that makes any sense. 

We used to have a house up in Maine and he would come and stay with me there. He would play on the monkey bars with the kids. The kids loved him. He was a pretzel; he could do any death-defying feat there is. All the kids loved to play with him because he could contort and do all these things to make them laugh, like push his thumbs back and all that kind of stuff. He was great with kids and he was great with animals. I mean, there are just sides to people that people don’t know about. They think its just like a girl goes “Ooh! I want that one!” and then they go and have sex in a dressing room. That’s just not real life. I have never had sex in a dressing room. I’ve never picked up one boyfriend I have ever had backstage.

You’ve dated very famous people. How did these people meet you? What kind of occasions?

It’s New York City! Models and rock stars have been pollinating for how long? This is nothing new. Rock stars who were making an iota of success – the first thing they want to do is upgrade the girls they date. That’s the first thing they want to do, and they want a model. Now it’s that they want a Playboy centerfold, a Sports Illustrated swimsuit girl. It is something they seek out.

So you prefer the word “model." Some people used to call you a groupie and I think that is a terrible name. I don’t think you were a groupie. Some people say you were one of the most famous groupies of all time.

No, I don’t think I was. I don’t think so. I think that title goes to that girl Pamela Des Barres. Pamela Miller, or whatever.

So you were not a groupie at all but you dated rock stars.

I think that’s the part about lazy journalism. The first thing they think of is “Oh! She is dating a rock star. She must be a groupie. Oh my goodness!”

Who else did you date besides rock stars?

The way you say all that! You act like I…

I just want the readers to know!

I can count my lovers on two hands. Can you?

Oh, absolutely not.

Ok. See! So, I always want to say to everybody else, “Tell me about all the people that you have dated. You’ve dated a lot more people than I have!”

What I’m asking you though is, in between all the rock stars, were there other people? Lawyers, doctors, etc.?

No, I never dated a lawyer. I never dated a doctor. I did date one photographer and his name was Clive Arrowsmith, which was really funny. I dated him when I was in London and he shot me for Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar and I did a lot of my best work, my biggest work, with him…he and David Bailey were the biggest photographers in the UK in the 1970s, in that early part of the ‘70s when I came up. Right before I started seeing Steven and before I got pregnant with Liv, I dated Clive Arrowsmith a little bit, which I think is hilarious because I went on to have a child with Steven Tyler from Aerosmith. Life is very interesting. If I had all the answers, if I could put together the puzzle for you, I would. But I can’t even explain to you—I have had this wonderful, serendipitous life. I have just had these synchronistic moments…I am like Forrest Gump. I tell everybody that. I just fall into these wonderful situations.

Bebe Buell

You are looking for this sort of energy that rockers give you.

I think we all look for the energy that we emanate. I have to be around the people that think like I do and that understand how I think. If I am asleep in the bed and get a song idea, I leap up out of the bed and get a pen and paper. When I lived with Elvis Costello, he did the same thing. When I lived with Todd (Rundgren), he did the same thing. I think like-minded people find each other.

What is the same about Steven, Elvis, and Todd? Where is the similarity?

Brilliant, multifaceted human beings. People don’t realize what a brilliant drummer Steven Tyler is. He started as a drummer.

When did the companion aspect end in the relationship? Hmmm, let me word this right: did you at times move off being a companion, like at a gig, and become just a fan like everyone else? Did that happen?

I think, to have that consciousness when you are in a relationship, you have to think that way. And I just never thought that way. I don’t judge people and I don’t hero- worship. People ask me frequently who my heroes are and I hate to sound like an old punk rocker, but I am. I don’t have any heroes. I have people that I admire and respect and want to learn from. I can’t say that I have any heroes, but I can say that I worship some people: Albert Einstein, Oscar Wilde. The people that I really admire, they are all dead. You know…John Lennon. They are all human, too. People that I tend to admire are not perfect. They are fallible. I think that is why we all love John Lennon so much – because he wasn’t perfect. He was a man that made many mistakes.

You actually had a conversation with him, didn’t you? Tell me about that.

Well I did. I had many really in-depth amazing conversations with him. I met John through Mick (Jagger). It was my birthday and Todd was in the studio and I was a little sad that I didn’t have my boyfriend to spend my birthday with me. But Todd was a workaholic before it was even fashionable to be a workaholic. I think he even had the first computer in the ‘70s, probably even before Bill Gates had one. But Mick felt a little bad for me and said that we should go out to dinner. We went down to the Lower East Side to this Japanese place called Me; its not there anymore. He said that he had a surprise for me. And earlier in our relationship he had asked me, “If you could meet three people, who would you want to meet?” And I said Edgar Allen Poe, Albert Einstein, Oscar Wilde, my usual, and John Lennon. And he said, “Oh, well that is the only one alive out of that whole group." And then we went on to the next subject and I guess that stuck with him.

So after we got done eating we got in a cab and I said “Where are we going?” and he said, “Oh, you’ll see in a minute!” And it was during John’s time with May Pang and we got out of the cab. We arrived at this apartment uptown and we had to walk up some stairs. We came in and knocked on the door. The door opens and we had to go up a set of stairs and at the top of the staircase, taking a Polaroid of us as we ascended the stairs, was John Lennon. And that picture, that very photo that he took of us, is in May Pang’s book, the one filled with all the Polaroids. I think I could say that may have been the first time in my life that I may have been a little star-struck.

The second time was when I met Salvador Dali at The Ritz, at the magazine store. I adored him as a child. I thought he was just fascinating. He invited me to tea when I was eighteen at The Ritz-Carlton. So I went and had tea with Dali and Amanda Lear, and some other very unusual person who I cant remember anymore. Maybe it was Varushka? And I feel that it was one of those magical moments. He (John Lennon) said he had just seen a UFO, so we spent the entire time talking about aliens because May had heard it all before. I believed him and was very fascinated so I wanted to hear everything he had to say about aliens. And then we went down to Chinatown at four in the morning and ate in one of the all-night restaurants. These were the kind of stories…these are the most sacred memories to me because it is all about cutting your teeth and learning. I was really lucky to learn so much from so many exquisite human beings.

Well, I listened to the album and I have to say there were a lot of things on there that I feel were great, I mean, really great. Tell me more.

I’m just really excited to be playing the final Hiro. I am very touched. The album is "Hard Love." I think it is my best work. I think it is the best thing I have ever done. You know, I have made a lot of records. I’m New York’s best-kept secret. I am a cult artist and I always have been. I have never been Madonna or Lady Gaga. I have always been a little under the radar, a little underground. I think that I have never always gotten my shots because people are so occupied with the glamorous boyfriends that I had and the Playboy or whatever they are distracted by. But I don’t do this because I am trying to win any brownie points. I do this because it is who I am. I am a songwriter and a singer and I have been my whole life. I was a contra-alto in the sixth grade. I was the only contra-alto of my age group in four states. I have a background in singing and when you listen to my material, you can sing this. I’m not just some kid who picked up a microphone and said, “I think I am going to sing this week!”

So Saturday night at Hiro. I will be there and I guess a lot of the people who read this are going to run out.

Oh yeah, it is going to be a good night. A lot of people love Hiro, and one thing about New York City is that when we say goodbye to something or someone, everybody comes out to pay their respects. And it is also the one-year anniversary of the departure of Don Hill, so the timing of it is kind of auspicious. It is the end of a great room and the end of one of the greatest men…we made a slideshow for him. A beautiful Don Hill slideshow.

Ramones Mania: Marky Ramone Performs Sunday, Johnny’s Tome Comes Out Monday

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Game of Thrones is just days away. For millions, it will define their Sunday nights. I, alas, will have to TiVo it because I will be swept to The Bell House on a wave of rock and roll nostalgia and friendship. Marky Ramone is in town with his band Blitzkrieg and they will be playing that great Gowanus venue. It will be Ramones’ songs 1-2-3- 4, after each other and it is as close to the real deal as can possibly be. Alas, Joey, Dee Dee, and Johnny have passed on but their legacy will be remembered – Ramone right at this show. Marky is touring and I don’t get to see him much. We are trying to get a dinner in, but it will probably have to wait until he returns from a European tour which will take him and Blitzkrieg to Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, Asia, Spain, Germany, United Kingdom, The Netherlands, and Italy with more dates to be announced. I’m going to catch up with him at the shows and ask him a bunch of questions for Monday’s post.

It’s a very big week for Ramones fans. Johnny Ramone’s posthumous tome Commando: The Autobiography of Johnny Ramone is coming out. Johnny’s wife Linda and pre-Marky drummer and original member Tommy Ramone will be on hand along with John Cafiero (editor and Johnny Ramone autobiography chief-of-staff). It will be at the Tribeca Barnes and Noble (97 Warren Street) on Friday, March 30th where someone, not clear which of them, will be signing books. I will read this book with great interest. Johnny and I were friends for a long while. I got along with Linda just fine when she was Joey’s girlfriend, but things soured (I think) when I was double-dating, with Johnny fixing him up with my friend Lisa. That stuff probably never made the autobiography anyway. It was before I knew about him and Linda. We were hanging at clubs like The Peppermint Lounge. Johnny was very conservative politically and we had many conversations about his right and my left leanings, but we always got along despite that. He was a very sharp guy and, as far as I could tell, the absolute leader of the band. He held them together with his business sense and maniacal devotion to rock and roll.
 
Things got bad when Linda made her shift from Joey to him, but the band played on. The Joey Ramone song "The KKK Took My Baby Away" is thought by some to refer to Johnny stealing Joey’s baby away. I last hung with Johnny a few years ago at the Hudson Hotel Library. He was playing pool with Nicolas Cage, who he had become friends with. Nicolas was really friendly, going out of his way to engage me, but Johnny was quite cold. I questioned him about it as we had never been like that. I was in trouble then and obviously this bothered him, so I bolted. I was surprised when he caught up with me down the long hallway leading to the exit. He wanted to hear my side and I returned with him back to the lounge. We talked frankly, no-holds-barred, as was his norm. It got heated but it was hashed out. We left as friends. I was saddened deeply when he became ill and died. After every show back in the day, I would go backstage and he would turn to me and ask me if it was good and I’d tell him the truth. He knew I would always tell it like it was. He was obsessed with making his fans happy. He was visibly upset when a mistake was made or if he felt one of the other band members had flawed or didn’t share in his enthusiasm. I’m going to pick up a copy of the book but won’t need any signature on it.
 
Domi Dollz
 
In a couple of weeks, on a Thursday before my DJ gig at Hotel Chantelle, I will join the Domi Dollz at the Museum of Sex. They will attempt to teach the sexually needy how to:
create more than just a moment in the bedroom, but an entire experience that will leave your partner begging for more. NYC’s most famed kink experts will explore ideas and techniques from setting the mood, sexy games, and thinking outside the bedroom to the art of the striptease, kinky foreplay, and fantasy scenarios. Enjoy sipping tasty aphrodisiac cocktails while the gorgeous Domi Dollz seduce and inspire you to create your own seduction experience.
OralFix: Aphrodisiac Cafe
Museum of Sex | Lower Level
233 5th Avenue @ 27th St
New York, NY 10016
 
Thurs, April 12th @ 7pm
Admission : $25
Seating is limited
 
The Domi Dollz are simply sexy. They are gorgeous, experienced, intelligent women who talk the talk like they know how to walk the walk. Come, please, please…please.

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

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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.

Blitzkrieg Bop: Marky Ramone Plays Gramercy Theatre

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Hey Ho! Lets Go! These words were a call to arms when the Ramones ruled my universe, and this city’s heart. There was a time when guitar solos led into drum solos and a thousand lead singers with big hair sang songs about love and knights and such, and the lyrics were flowing and even understandable. Along came the Ramones, their 1, 2, 3, 4 scream being the only way you could tell that they were on to the next chapter. It was one long bang, with a frenzy only punk, hardcore, and maybe war could achieve.

Marky Ramone was the beat, the blast, the steady. His unrelenting attack on the skins with his sticks legitimized the frenzy. Now they’re all gone except for Marky. Yeah, I know about Tommy and CJ and the et ceteras, and I can’t put them down, but for me the core four were Joey, Dee Dee, Johnny, and Marky. I had the honor of knowing and hanging with all of them before I was Steve Lewis. It was from the Ramones, and especially their lighting director and artist, Arturo Vega, that I learned the show biz skills I would apply when I had to entertain the masses.

Tonight, Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg will hit the Gramercy Theatre on East 23rd and it will be as close as it gets to the real deal. I caught this act at the Hudson Hotel back when it was first brewing, and I cannot wait to see it now that everyone is comfortable with their roles and classic cuts; I’m sure it’s not easy playing ghosts. It’s difficult to skate that fine line between imitation and respect. I am particularly interested in hearing the new stuff, including “If and When,” which is getting a buzz. Marky is a great guy and it makes me happy that we remain friends after so many years, trials, tribulations, and changes. Change is inevitable, but in our new world, classic is appreciated more than ever. Tonight’s act will take you to a place that still lives in the heart and soul of so many of us.

Sorry about the lack of posts lately. I got myself a bug and didn’t give it enough respect until it knocked me down and out. I have lots to talk to you about, but it will have to wait. I’m going to take this giant beige pill and some red sticky liquid that they gave me and sleep the afternoon away.They told me it would “cure me,” but I’m not sure they understand how sick this lad really is. I’ll talk to you later. Need strength for tonight’s gig