10 Years Later: Remembering Dee Dee Ramone

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.

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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."