Marky Ramone On His Legacy, Pasta Sauce, and Gelato

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.

Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg With Andrew W.K.

Marky Ramone and I are old friends. There was a time when The Ramones were a huge part of my life. I was friends with Johnny, went on double dates with him, hung with Dee Dee and Joey and the insane entourage that surrounded them. I grew up in Jackson Heights, Queens, just a bike ride away from their Forest Hills roots. Johnny, Dee Dee and Joey have passed on. Chihuahua, Mexico born-Arturo Vega, the guy who did their stage production and designed all those T-shirts you all sport, passed just a minute ago. He was a dear friend. I named my best dog after him, a mean ass chihuahua who was unbelievably cool to people he liked.  They got along.

Marky is from Brooklyn; he’s the drummer I know best as Tommy the original moved on to production around the first album. The Ramones were one of the greatest live Rock and Roll shows I have ever seen. They played thousands of gigs—from small town halls to arenas. They toured the world. They became synonymous with the little guy breaking big. They understood the street, the problems of youth and frustrations of common guy love. They related. Their fans were frenzied. They are no more. The closest thing to the Ramones you will ever see is Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg. Blitzkrieg is a slashing set of Ramones tracks with only a requisite 1-2-3-4 between them. I’ve seen the band and it thrilled me, goosebumps and such. Now Marky has added the infamous Andrew W.K. as the lead singer. I cannot wait to see this.
 
This Saturday they will be at Irving Plaza (17 Irving Place at 7pm.) Tickets are available. I asked Marky to tell us about it.
 
You are touring with Andrew W. K. doing the "Joey spot".. do you think of it like that?  Is this a Ramones cover band or something else?
I wouldn’t say Andrew’s in Joey’s spot, Joey’s spot can never be filled. He was one of a kind. Andrew is great too, he brings a different thing to the songs and the live performance. I look at this band as the ultimate celebration of the best American punk band.
 
What has been the reaction to the act worldwide?
So far the reaction has been great. The most important thing is we’re playing music we love and we’re having a good time doing it.
 
You played with the band during most of the albums during the meat and potato years. You were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a Ramone, yet in some Ramones-centric quarters you get grief…the infighting continues long after the dearly have departed. When’s the book coming out.
I’m actually working on the book now. All I can say is, it’s gonna be good.
 
Are you featuring new material or any Andrew material?
We’re doing Ramones material that Andrew and I decided on. 
 
When are we DJing together?
Let me know. I’m ready to go.
 
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Photo credit: Martin Bonetto
 
Main Image Photo credit: BobGruen

Linkage: Alec Baldwin Still Harboring Mayoral Ambition, Noah ’40’ Shebib Talks MS

Looks like Alec Baldwin is still considering a life in politics. The 30 Rock actor suggested in an interview with Bloomberg that a New York City mayoral run is "something that [he] wold love to do," allowing that he is on contract with NBC through at least 2013. "I would still like to consider doing that because I want to," he said. "I do a lot of this kind of work now and I wonder what would it be like if I had a staff and budget to do it. That would be interesting." Sure would. [Bloomberg]

For the first time in 35 years — and although David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King, Karen Russell’s Swamplandia and Dennis Johnson’s Train Dreams were all considered — the Pulitzer Prize board has failed to select a winner for the fiction award. The prize committee says that "there were multiple factors involved" and that they "don’t discuss in detail why a prize is given or not given." The aforementioned books’ publishers say that they are "disappointed" because, of course, "the Pulitzer makes sales."  [BBC]

There are a lot of wonderful and free and cheap books available for download to your Kindle if you know where to look, and The Hairpin has made a handy guide of their favorites so you can skip straight to the reading part. [TheHairpin]

Wise-cracking profile writers and aspirational fan-fic scripters, James Franco is onto you and your self-serving ways. "To me," he says, "it feels like they’re pretending to be critical of this public persona that’s called James Franco but they’re also using it to serve themselves…it seems like you’re being kind of critical, but in fact, they’re just trying to tap into whatever that was." [THR]

CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta sat down with Drake’s producer and partner in crime Noah "40" Shebib to talk about his multiple sclerosis and his quest to be what his mother calls "a person with MS who fulfills his dreams." "These are things that I enjoy, I like these challenges," he says. "They maybe get a little bit more difficult because of my disease, but as long as I am on my feet, I will continue to run." [OnSmash]

Like Northside earlier, San Fransisco’s Outside Lands festival got a lineup today and it includes everyone from Stevie Wonder and Skrillex to Neil Young and Papa. Ticket information and the full billing are available on Outside Lands’s website. [Stereogum]

The Ramones will have you know from their very first pitch that they are "not a glitter group, they don’t play boogie music and they don’t play blues," but that their every song is "a potential hit single." [Flavorwire]

Listen to a Posthumous Joey Ramone Song, ‘Rock ‘N Roll is the Answer’

Though Ramones frontman Joey Ramone died 11 years ago, there are rarities and B-sides to be mined for further posthumous releases: On May 22, a collection of his unreleased, songs charmingly titled …ya know?, will hit record stores. Right now, you can listen to "Rock ‘N’ Roll is the Answer," which will be released ahead of time as a 7” single on April 21’s Record Store Day. It won’t dislodge any Ramones song from your punk playlist, no, but it’s nice to hear Joey’s voice again, sending you to some faraway stadium show with a cup of lukewarm Coors Light in hand. Listen to it at Spinner, by way of Flavorwire.

Guitar solos! Big stomping riffs! It’s the type of song that would’ve made a younger Ramone vomit on himself, perhaps, which is the purest test of cool: finally putting your youthful urges to rest. Rock n’ roll means different things at different ages, you know?

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.

Blitzkrieg Bop: Marky Ramone Plays Gramercy Theatre

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

Night of the Living Dead

They say that “close” only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades. I think it sometimes counts with cover bands, especially when a member of that band is on board. Last night I raced to Hudson Hall at the Hudson Hotel to catch Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg. Marky was joined by Andy Hilfiger on bass and lead singer Michale Graves, formerly of the Misfits (after Glen Danzig moved on). It was a barrage of classic Ramones, from “Sheena is a Punk Rocker” to “Lobotomy.” Surely it wasn’t the Ramones for real, but if you closed your eyes and squinted your ears just right it was real nice. These days a blurry YouTube video or a track over the radio or from some DJ is all we have left. This live show of all the stuff that ushered in an era was absolutely a blast. There was a punk purity to it, an honesty and a truth that only comes off live. No, Andy isn’t Dee Dee, and Michale ain’t Joey. But they weren’t trying to be.

They were playing the songs hard, fast, 1-2-3-4 more and I loved it. I saw hundreds of Ramones shows and although Joey, Dee Dee and Johnny are playing Pinocle with Elvis, I think they would have loved it. For me it was nostalgia, fuzzy memories and goose bumps. It was a séance of sorts with an energy and voice true to the Ramones. It got a little weird when they did songs like “What a Wonderful World” and “California Sun,” being that those were songs the Ramones covered, so it was a cover band doing a cover of a cover. Blitzkrieg had no trouble handling the trademark simple chords and hooks of the set. Michale brought in a maniacal frenzy that Joey lacked in the later years. To channel the punk ghosts they head bopped and made all the proper distorted faces. I knew every word and sang along with the invited crowd.

The guests had gorged on pizza before the show. I was told it was made using Marky Ramone’s Brooklyn’s Own Pasta Sauce. I heard it was great. I chatted with Marky right before he went on and his lovely wife Marion after the gig. They may take this show on the road. Although no one was diving off the stage and only a handful of us were pogo-ing, I think this is a winner. The history of the Ramones is tumultuous. It was fraught with back-stabbing, in-fighting, and some cheating, some lying and some screwing around. It was distrust, disgust and dishonor. It continues now long after the last Gabba Gabba Hey. The royalties and trademarks and other streams of loot always seem to be points of contention. Somebody always seems to be suing somebody. A long time back I interviewed Joey’s brother Mickey and writer/bon vivant Legs McNeil. The interview which took place in Joeys old apartment in the East Village bothered me. I chose not to post what I recorded. It didn’t jive with my recollection of the past so I let it go. The past is always seen from different angles. Two people in the same room can see the same thing and come away with a different thought. It is written by survivors and winners and they aren’t necessarily the same thing

I remember when Joey’s girl Linda was found to be sleeping with Johnny. It was a cold dark secret that should have ripped things apart, but the band played on. Joey wrote the song “The KKK Took My Baby Away” which most felt was his way of getting even with the right wing Johnny for stealing his girl. Some say it wasn’t about that. I don’t believe them. It felt like Joey was answering the thousand questions that no one wanted to ask him. He had summed up the situation with a great track, the music, the vocals, the purity that is punk at it’s best, and had encapsulated in the raw emotions of a betrayal. Punks were losers singing about their plights in a world that always looked down on them and discounted them. In the music they united the millions who felt left out. They were invariably skinny losers with ripped up jeans and leather jackets. They weren’t really tough so they acted out with the music. They blasted away their frustrations at a straight-edged world that didn’t hear what they were saying. They played it loud, fast and hard. When Blitzkrieg offered “KKK” last night with both Joey and Johnny as dead as Julius Caesar it was a sad, poignant moment. The lawyers can argue over rights to this or that and the division of the pie may change from time to time, but the songs remain. They have been given new life with Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg. Someone close to Marky told me “he just wants to play.” He played last night and showed those too young to know and those straining to remember about what it was like to see the best punk band ever. Spin Magazine once compiled a list of the greatest rock bands ever and had the Ramones second after the Beatles. Buddy Rich, who many considered the greatest drummer ever, once said Marky was the best. Last night Marky and crew gave us a window to an era passed. He and his band tore it up and I hope they do it again real soon. I know Joey and Dee Dee would have loved it. Johnny would have found some fault in it and been angry at Marky for something, but I have to believe that he and the dead Ramones were always about the show, the music and the fans, and this show hit that trifecta hard, and so it’s Hey Ho, Let’s Go to the next gig.

The World Reunion at Santos’ was less than was expected for those who expected too much. I arrived late, after Marky…everyone complained. I saw people I hadn’t seen in eons and told a tale or three. I was happy to see those who came and I truly missed those who didn’t make it, couldn’t make it, or watched from above. I missed Arthur Weinstein the most. He had done an art show in this space before it became a joint. He liked the space and everyone at Santos adored and respected him. A club like the World couldn’t exist now, needn’t exist now. The people who complain about clubs these days including myself must appreciate that that time is gone and cannot be recreated and that the fun and the energy and music and sociology of that time was specific to that time and may no longer have relevance. Most laments for clubs the way they were “back in the day” are merely cries for the return to the personal Nirvana of youth. A little old school vitality can be found in a reunion or a cover band or more easily a blast of Viagra, but it never really is the same thing. However, it will often get you through the night. I got through last night with a whiff of something old and familiar lingering in my hair and soul. I woke up, showered, shaved and wrote this and will spend the day looking back a little and moving forward a lot. I refuse to be a zombie living as if my past life was the best of times. A famous poet once said “the best is yet to come, and won’t that be fine.” I believe him.

A New Space Under the Street?

imageI took a week off to regroup and begin the New Year. I was around town, visiting clubs and trying to get a grip on what will be, and on Thursday I attended an art opening at a former assistant’s gallery. I’ve had a hundred or so assistants over the years, and the one thing this diverse group has in common is that they hate being called assistants.

Ivy Bernhard, who is now Ivy Brown, used to coordinate fashion shows for me back in the day when I made my living producing and choreographing these affairs. It was long before the tents, and we did our shows at clubs because lights, sound, techies, stages, and such were all available at these spots. And at that long ago time before the great meteorite whacked all the dinosaurs, it was cool to have a show at a trendy nightclub. I went to a Susanne Bartsch presentation of Vivienne Westwood, loved what I saw, and ran with the ball. I ended up doing about 400+ shows, including some real good ones: Katherine Hamnet, Matsuda, Stephan Jones, Martine Sitbon, Moschino, and like 395 others. This was before I tried my hand at nightlife — well, back then Ivy was my right hand (and often my left as well).

So, I popped in to see her at the Ivy Brown Gallery, which is in the Meatpacking District in that triangular building which defines 14th and 9th above Vento and Ara and Hogs and Heifers. As I was walking up the four flights, Yoko Ono was walking down. She has had a long relationship with photographer Bob Gruen, and Bob’s wife Elizabeth Gregory-Gruen was the artist showing her work. Cut-Work is amazing stuff and I urge you to check it out. I immediately ran into my mentor and the man I named my Chihuahua after, Arturo Vega. Although he’s accomplished many things, Arturo is best known for creating the artwork for the Ramones, being the guy that introduced them to those who babysat them in the beginning, and he also toured with them as their lighting director. Anyone fortunate to have seen the Ramones witnessed a lighting display that was unparalleled in its day. Arturo later ran the Ramones’ website and merchandising until deaths and differences occurred. We chatted about the work, bathed in the crowds filled with stunning beauty and intelligence, and then chatted up Ivy.

Ivy and I invariably talked about the project going on under the cobblestone of 9th avenue between 13th and 14th streets. There is a vaulted space under the street that Steve Hanson and the owner of 675 Hudson Street have been trying to develop for quite awhile. This never-before-used space has been shown around town to A-list owner and promoter types for well over a year. With 12-foot+ ceilings and actual street manhole covers as part of the ceiling, it is a wondrous room. I was a part of the design team with Chris Sheffield when I was co-owner of SLDesign. I left this project behind when I moved on, but it has always intrigued me. I was told that the community board had signed on, and the troubles they were having with the Department of Transportation were being solved. Yes, since it literally lives under a street, the DOT must be in the loop. The entrance to the space was to be through Ara, the small joint on 9th between 13th and 14th named for the building’s owner. A little bird told me that construction had begun again, but Ivy said she hadn’t seen any. Indeed, no dumpster was on 9th Avenue that evening, and I’m left to wonder what has happened. As it is a new year, I’ll start off lazy and not investigate. There’s a part of me that just doesn’t care anymore about what happens there. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to let that part win a few.