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.
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