"I am not afraid of pain, but it hurts so bad, I feel so mad. No one see the truth. There's nothing to gain, a life goes down the drain."
-Ramones

Three-Chords To the Grave:

A TRIBUTE TO JOHNNY RAMONE
Written by:  Alex Sandell

I'm getting sick of writing tributes to founding members of the Ramones.  These guys were, are, and always will be my fucking heroes.  A few years ago, I wrote my tribute to Joey, when he died of cancer.  The next year, I had to bid my farewell to Dee Dee Ramone, when he unexpectedly passed away.  Listening to an album by the Ramones wasn't as fun as it used to be.  Joey and Dee Dee wrote most of the songs, and with them gone, what was left (outside of the best damn music ever recorded)?  Johnny, of course. 

His three-chord buzzsaw guitar attack smacked the disco generation in the nuts and left them crying for more.  He had us slam-dancing along with the raw, rapid-fire "noise" he played to such perfection.  And he was still with us.  There was still someone alive that defined the most revolutionary sound to ever hit the rock airwaves. 

And now he's gone.  Gone because of cancer of the prostate (yes, women, it's as common in men as tit cancer is in women -- only you wouldn't know that, being that the vomit puked on Oprah would lead you to believe that men have no problems and women are nature's victims).  No matter how he died, and even if Oprah could give a shit less, Johnny's gone.  The last tie to the trademark Ramones' sound has passed away, at only 55 years old.   

I didn't find out until 10:30 PM last night.  I was sleeping in (no need to be jealous; I just don't spend 8-10 hours a day working a meaningless job for a cloven-footed corporation), woke up, scratched my nuts, as men always do when they get out of bed, and listened to my messages.  I had a few telemarketers, a dude asking me to send money to Kerry (sorry, I just contributed to Nader), and one of my best friends, leaving this message: "hey, bud, what's up?  I suppose you're sleeping ... lazy bastard.  Anyway, I'll attend the Ladder 49 screening with you Monday.  Did you know Johnny Ramone died?"

WHAT?!?

WHAT?!?

YOU'RE FUCKING KIDDING, RIGHT???????

Do you think I care about a screening at this moment in time?!?  To hell with some lame-ass Travolta movie (his comeback essentially lasted the duration of Pulp Fiction).  Johnny Ramone is dead.  Not dead like John Travolta's career, but dead, deceased, six-feet-under dead.   

Anyway, I did end up getting together with the two people, my age, that I'm still friends with who are fans of the Ramones; the rest have "moved on" to Usher and Ben Harper.  I think one is listening to Alicia Keyes!  Yikes. 

The three of us drank and danced and drank some more.  And here I write this memorial, at 5 in the morning, fairly damn intoxicated and dizzy from a horrible mixture of grief and cheap beer.  I'm already reminiscing over the night that was.

At one point, during "We're a Happy Family," we all broke down crying.  I actually fell to my knees and sobbed violently.  It had nothing to do with the booze.  I knew this was the end. 

When Joey died, I wrote, "I think all of us should stop and put a single rose, a tube of glue and a pair of Converse All Star shoes in the Pet Sematary, and take a couple of minutes to remember the man who finally made rock and roll real. Joey would be the first one to tell us that anything more than a couple of minutes is just too damn long."

I didn't know that Joey's tragic death was just the start of the slaughter of counter-culture, real rock music and the Ramones.  Converse All Star shoes are now owned by Nike (please boycott them).  And a couple of minutes is no longer enough.  When Joey died, I still had hope.  I missed the singer like mad, but I thought punk could revive itself without him.  Then Dee Dee went.  And now Johnny.  And then along came Avril Lavigne.

I'm sorry, boys and girls, punk is dead.  It's as dead as my heroes.  It's not coming back. 

And I feel miserable, hung-over and lost.  RIP Johnny Ramone.  God knows you've earned it, even if Oprah and Dr. Phil won't be doing a special tribute to you and your music, any time soon.  Now what?  Hey Ho - punk's gone!  Love live punk!

 

All text, outside of the obvious Ramones' lyrics, is ęcopyright 2004 Alex Sandell [All Rights Reserved].

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