Johnny, Are We Ok?
September 18, 2004
Few people will get that title (John E. will but must remain silent.) Here’s a true story about how MIKE RANDLE got into the Ramones. Now before I get into my story it’s worth noting that the Ramones hated one another. This is true and they appeared on Howard Stern’s show several years ago and it was pathetic. So, IMHO, regardless WHO Johnny Ramone votes for, the real heartbreaker was how those guys felt about each other as a whole. The guy with the real heart (from what I’m told) was Joey. Johnny was WAY into Reagan and was just someone who aligned himself with HIS particular idea of America, which I suspect was a fierce feared Superpower. Hey, that was his right and to balance it Joey was the consummate Liberal. So let’s call it a wash why don’t we?
What I really dug about Johnny Ramone was his consistency on that ax. As far as I’m concerned, musically, Johnny rarely let me down and, I think some of the Ramones best tunes (See: POISON HEART) came at the end of their career. But Johnny wasn’t just the poster boy for the Ramones. he was also an avid baseball fan. Don’t know if many people knew that. And regardless what side of the political fence you stand on, when you share the same sports club it’s like being in the same family for many people. I feel, as someone who loves music and creativity in general, my life was improved by the music and the PRESENCE of the Ramones.
Now, I was a late bloomer. I got into punk around 1981 and into the Ramones around 84. One of my English Literature teachers gave me the Clash’s SANDANISTA! and, well, that was it for me. I think Johnny was into the music and spirit of punk, but not the idealism of it. And that’s fine. At least he was honest about it and didn’t live a lie and didn’t compromise. Rusty and me had this friend, Elisha Lewerke. She was really into FISHBONE and so Rusty nick-named her “micro-feeesh” and we used to all hang out and stuff. She lived in a Brentwood apartment (downstairs from one of the Bangles, actually) and her mom was an artist. We were good pals (she’d dated a good friend of ours, Tony Pearson) and used to listen to records (remember those?) together. One day she asked if i’d ever heard of the Ramones. Nope was my answer. She played me side one….. 15 minutes later (LOL) my jaw had dropped. i felt free! i’d just heard something unbelievably beautiful. And I sang “i wanna be your boyfriend” all the way home. Elisha was the sweetest and every now and again i bump into her (i think she’s a hair stylist in LA somewhere) and remind her of our teens and we always go back to the Ramones.
Years later I met Marky Ramone and he was really a nice guy. But what I always respected about the Ramones was, no matter how they really felt about each other, they knew that the Ramones were bigger than any of them individually and so they maintained artistic standards onstage and in the studio. Years after he left the group, the late bassist, Dee Dee, was still contributing songs for the Ramones records, which shows they had very little ego when it came to the SONGS. And they really cared about their fans, which is why I’ve never heard of a bad Ramones show. They cared. Alot.
And I know a lot of fans would forgive them if they had bad shows, as most fans cut artist slack as they get older. But when these guys didn’t have the heart anymore they bowed out. Now 3 of the originals are gone, which is shocking, as they were barely 50 years old. So i put on ‘Blitzkreig Bop’ for my 5-year-old son. As soon as Johnny’s chords started, he immediately ‘got it.’ Some things never change. And I’m sure Johnny IS ok.