Book Review: The Ramones- “An American Band”

Gino who is the Dee Dee in Sedated- The World’s Greatest Ramones Tribute has a bunch of Ramones books and is letting me borrow them
I thought I’d tell you about the books I have read so far but I want to start with my first Ramones Book which is
Amrican Band Cover

This book was published May 15th 1993 by St. Martin’s Griffin and was written by Jim Bessman “in association with The Ramones”
That last part is very important because that means there is no real dirt in this book
People nowadays are spoiled by all of the in-depth stories they get from old rock stars who don’t have anything to lose anymore and don’t give a shit
This book was released 3 years before the Ramones would break up

Johnny Joey


Looking back on reading this book in 93 and knowing what I know now, I would say this book reads like a 200 page music magazine article
In a literal sense because the verbiage sounds like they’re trying to win you over
It covers all of the important landmarks of their career and provides all the important Moment/Facts & Figures/Concert Dates etc…
But it is no in depth expose like the books we would get much later on

We take it for granted now that books are pretty much oral histories but the writing of this book is very obvious in its’ intention
Not to say that they don’t address the flaws of the band, like Dee Dee’s drug issues and Marky’s alcohol issues and they talk a lot about how hard it was to keep going after  countless disappointments etc…
But they don’t even come close to hinting about the Joey/Linda/Johnny situation, nor do they talk about Joey’s maddening OCD or hygiene issues
They do hint at Johnny being a hardass and his distaste for anything non-American but they barely scratch the surface of what we now know was his history of bullying and physical abuse
Richie is not trashed but he wasn’t exactly painted as their friend

This book basically sets all of the parameters for the standard folklore of the band
So don’t go looking for anything juicy here

DeeDee Tommy

If there is any dirt it is mostly on Dee Dee
There’s the story of 53rd and 3rd, of him accidentally breaking into a laundromat instead of a grocery store, the rocky relationship with Connie, the Dee Dee King phase etc…
But other than that, it is pretty sanitized

I have to go back again to the time period of 1993 and address the fact that an average Ramones fan wouldn’t have had access to much information outside of this book
I have tried to see if there were any other books about The Ramones that dated before “An American Band” but I did not find any (so if you know of any, please tell me)
It sounds like such an old man thing to say “back before the internet” but you only got decent information on bands in 1993 in magazines like SPIN and the underground stuff
Grunge had just caught on and we had not gotten to the “Every Grunge Band agrees that The Ramones Are Important” phase, which means that MTV wasn’t real enthused about The Ramones either
By this time, they had put out “Mondo Bizarro” they may as well have called this one “Adios Amigos” because I pretty much quit buying their albums after that
My last live Ramones show was the Bomb Factory on Sunday March 20th 1994
I still listened to The Ramones on a regular basis but I was on to other things by then

This book is not going to tell you anything that you don’t already know but it is an interesting read nonetheless
I would say it is a novelty read at best

Book 3


The Ramone 1 Year Anniversary @ Rockers v.s. Mods (and beyond)

What started out as an off-hand idea to spice up my busking activities has evolved into a successfully executed concept
I’m not sure the exact date when I first formed the idea but my initial post was in August of 2015
I don’t consider it official until April 1st 2016 when I played my first gig at The Underpass
Since than I have played a handful of gigs and tweaked the concept
My first shows were the entire 1st album but I would soon generate a new set of songs with better video and audio quality
My current set works fine but I need to expand my library
The second reason I want to create new backing videos is that I learned more about lighting and the relation to Green Screen

One of my biggest obstacles was not having a car
This severely limited my ability to get out and hustle gigs
I new I had friends and family that would let me use their vehicle to do a gig (and have) but getting a gig is not something you can do from your desk
That car situation has been rectified

The money I made to pay for the car came from playing drums in a Ramones Tribute band called Sedated
It has been fun getting paid to play Ramones drums and the gigs keep coming
As of this posting, I played several out of town gigs in the past month and will be playing San Antonio on Saturday
My Ramones chops have improved greatly and I had to alter my playing style dramatically in order to play the parts correctly
All the props to the guys from Sedated

The future?
There’s the new setlist that I am cooking up that will eventually become a full Karaoke library and then there’s the plans to travel nationally as well as abroad
The size and portability of this performance will make it perfect for non-club events like conventions and  private events
I am quite positive about the ability of The RAMONE to become a working concept that will get me out and about
Come see me at Rockers V.s. Mods bike rally
Dubliner, Dallas Tx Sunday April 2nd at 2pm
RockvMod Flyer 1

A Veteran’s guide to dealing with the Cultural Appropriation of The Ramones

* My very first Ramones T Shirt from the Too Tough To Die 10th Aniversary Tour
I feel the need to address the reactions that some hardcore Ramones fans have when seeing how the band has achieved cultural acceptance
It is easy to feel like your culture has been yanked out of your hands and sold on E-Bay but read on and I will tell you that “It’s Gonna Be Alright”

There is a certain attachment that we ascribe to the things that help us deal with everyday life
We can all agree that music is the most accessible way to deal with your feelings and to express your own identity
There has never been a more perfect band to provide that kind of strength as The Ramones
Their minimalist approach to their songs also applied to the lyrics, which can range anywhere from hard and cold reality to completely psychotic ramblings and fantasies
This allows pretty much anyone, no matter what kind of culture produced them, can identify with The Ramones because everything was boiled down to the most succinct possible statements about life
I latched on to the Ramones as a teenage middle class suburban kid whose only problems were feelings of alienation and how to get a girl to like me
Meanwhile, a kid in a different situation ascribes their own set of circumstances
Instead of worrying about silly suburban things, maybe this kid has to deal with harsh economic realities or suppression of individuality
Where I saw The Ramones as my imaginary intellectual punk friends with a dark sense of humor and irony, the other kid sees The Ramones as their imaginary street gang brothers who come from nothing, become famous but refuse to forget their roots
So, you could see how some people see The Ramones on a more personal level than others

I can only relate what it was like to be a Ramones fan in Dallas Texas during the mid 80’s
I was a drummer in thrash bands back then and most of my friends looked down on The Ramones
I can remember one particular quote that was lobbed at me across the lunch table at school “Take 4 retards, give them instruments, give them some some jeans that you got out of the trash can and you’ve got The Ramones”
Most older fans experienced the same treatment because The Ramones didn’t have their cultural impact yet and people never took the time to really understand the subtle intelligence that was at work in the Ramones presentation
You wore your T Shirt like gang colors and there was even a chance that your colors could get you beaten up (back in the Punk v.s. Metal days, my Ramones shirt cancelled out my long hair and I went to many punk shows with no issues whatsoever)
But there was also a chance that you would see someone else in the cultural desert wearing a Ramones shirt
Even if you never got to know that person, you received validation for all of the shit you took for liking The Ramones because you knew that person was getting the same amount of shit
Being that you either had to buy your shirt at a show or that you had to go to one of those “scary” record shops to buy a T Shirt, there were very few “posers” back then

Fast forward to modern times and we see how deeply The Ramones have embedded themselves in our culture
One of the things that bothers some of The Faithful is seeing the band concept get co-opted
It was hard enough to see “Blitzkreig Bop” used in a beer commercial but now we see young people with absolutely no context of what The Ramones mean and they are appropriating it for their own culture
It is appalling for many of the Old Schoolers to see some Barbie Doll pop singer or model wearing an original Ramones T Shirt that their wardrobe department bought for $200
I know this because I have been struggling with those resentments myself
But I have to tell all of you grizzled and resentment filled veterans something very important

We carried The Ramones on OUR backs and made them what they are today
We did not want approval or acceptance, all we wanted from them was acknowledgement, which translates into respect
We earned the respect of our culture by sheer willpower and perseverance
It is now our responsibility to show benevolence and to add depth to the new perception of The Ramones legacy
Which translates into “Don’t be a snob”
Next time, instead of grilling that person to make sure they deserve to wear our “gang colors”, how about engaging them in a conversation about what The Ramones mean to them?
True, you are going to run into a lot of people who just see the shirt as a fashion accessory but you will also find a kid who only knows about The Ramones from what they see on the internet
It is your responsibility to forgo the frustration of seeing people treat your culture as “Just a T Shirt” and to give emotional depth to those who identify with The Ramones for the same reasons that you did
It doesn’t matter if it is 1984 or 2016, that kid has the same basic reasons
for identifying with The Ramones message as you did
Do you want their experience with you to be a negative memory that they try to forget?
Do you want their experience to be the same as the positive experiences you had when someone identified with you over the Ramones back in the old days?

Repeat after me:
Gabba Gabba
We Accept You
We Accept You
One of US!

The RAMONE is a One Man Tribute Band that sees The Ramones as a cultural phenomenon and not just an influential rock n Roll band
Please check me out on my Homepage, Facebook and Twiter
The Ramone on FaceBook

The Ramones Hard to Find Bonus Tracks pt 5 (accidental prequel) – “Carbona Not Glue”

The Ramones “Hard to Find” bonus tracks pt 1 “Street Fighting Man”
The Ramones “Hard to Find” Bonus Tracks pt 2- Smash You
The Ramones Hard to Find Bonus Tracks pt 3 “Can’t Say Anything Nice”

Let’s take a break from the Beggar’s Banquet 12″ singles as a source of “Non Album” tracks that could be considered “Bonus Tracks” back in the days before everything was available online in some form or another
Let’s talk about a track that became rare by accident

The average non-obsessive Ramones fan in 1991 would have a hard time knowing what was going on at the 2:57 mark on track 17 of their new album “Loco Live”
It seems there is an untitled song tacked onto the end of the song “Pet Sematary” that talks about huffing
The song is Carbona Not Glue and it has a dubious back story

Let’s jump back from 1991 to 1977 when The Ramones release their second studio album “Leave Home”
The original pressing included Carbona but was hastily removed after they discovered that Carbona was a trademarked brand name and that they had a potential lawsuit on their hands
It was replaced by the track “Babysitter” and later by “Sheena Is A Punk Rocker” in anticipation for the next album “Rocket To Russia”

I had bought the vinyl album of Leave Home and had no idea that Carbona was an issue
One of my friends was bragging that he had a bootleg 45 with Cabona on it whereupon I replied “And?”
He told me the story that I just told you but then I showed him my copy of Leave Home

Evidently, I had inadvertently purchased a very rare album
Too bad it got absolutely destroyed by water damage along with the rest of my albums

The RAMONE is a One Man Tribute Band that sees The Ramones as a cultural phenomenon and not just an influential rock n Roll band
Please check me out on my Homepage, Facebook and Twiter
The Ramone on FaceBook


Thoughts on “The Machine Stops”by EM Forster

I am going to give away certain plot points and the ending but don’t think of this as a spoiler because it is easy to figure out the end
Since I am recommending audiobooks, I would suggest imagining it to be like a poem that lasts an hour and seventeen minutes instead of the traditional novel format
Since I have burned myself out on Zombie stuff on YouTube, I have turned to apocalypse and dystopian themes
I listened to apocalyptic book “The Scarlet Plague” by Jack London, which is set 60 years after a plague and it was pretty good
Then I saw one titled  “The Machine Stops” by EM Forster, which was published in Great Britain in 1909
This is a dystopian story

The general framework is a bit different from the Orwellian ideal of oppressive government
Not only is the authority figure replaced by a machine but the machine is a god instead of an oppressive force
It does have a little bit in common with “The Time Machine” by HG Wells but only in that they share a theory of de-evolution
Their society developed underground after the planet became uninhabitable and not from totalitarianism
They are not oppressed, they are captives of enforced luxury and have been that way for so long that the machine is truly their god
Their bible is a handbook on what all of the buttons and features of the cells do and how to ask them to be fixed
They recite passages from it when they have anxiety

The only thing that these people value is the exchange of ideas
Most of them never even leave their cells because they have audio/visual communication with the other cells as well as a database
That’s right, this book predicted the internet
And all these people do is give lectures to each other
The machine will provide everything else so that you can achieve a higher consciousness

These people abhor being in the proximity of others and especially hate touching each other
There is public transportation but people only use it when they are told to go to other  zones or to propagate the species
Nobody breaks any rules because there are none needed
The only punishment in this world is called “homelessness” which is basically expulsion to the surface, which means death
The only thing that gets you expelled is questioning the machine

I am not sure of how many other stories follow this tangent but this is the one that has the most relevance to our current situation and it is not hard to see the seeds of the future in today
This also puts me into conflict because I have always thought that my role in society was to do exactly what these people are doing
I have always perceived myself as a gatherer of knowledge and my role is to disseminate it
This image of myself really started to solidify when I started editing video
Just like most people and their dislike for hearing their own voices, I disliked my own lyrics because they sounded too trite
Instead, I chose to produce videos that made my points for me and also to have conversations that would expose people to new ideas that they didn’t have time to see because they were busy with normal life
Imagine how deflated I feel right now when faced with the possibility that I might be a symptom of the pacification of the human race

My sense of self worth is based on my intellect and my ability to perceive things that others do not
An artist is supposed to use all of their heightened awareness to give pleasant distraction to the masses while also serving as emotional support
It’s easy to entertain but you need to have empathy in order to provide support
The people in this future are all about the entertainment aspect but they have no impetus to provide support to each other
Not because they are competing for resources or some kind of enforced civility but because they have become disconnected from each other by generations of isolated convenience

They never do tell you what runs the machine but you find out what happens when the machine stops
Even though there are people in this world that I would not like to see suffer, there are parts of me that wish our machine would stop so that I would have a reason to get out of my cell
Even if it is to die in the poisonous air, it might be worth it to see what the sun looks like


The Ramones Hard to Find Bonus Tracks pt 4- “Go Home Ann”

The Ramones “Hard to Find” bonus tracks pt 1 “Street Fighting Man”
The Ramones “Hard to Find” Bonus Tracks pt 2- Smash You
The Ramones Hard to Find Bonus Tracks pt 3 “Can’t Say Anything Nice”

In the previous installment, I covered how I had been buying the Beggar’s Banquet 12″ singles that the Ramones released in the UK.
I had started with the 12″ released after “Too Tough To Die”
I had enough money at the time to buy one of two 12″ singles that were released after the “Animal Boy” album
One contained the non album track “Can’t Say Anything Nice” and the other included “Go Home Ann”, whaich was on the single “Bonzo Goes To Bitburg”

I ended up buying the single with “Can’t” on it and never bothered to buy the one with “Ann” on it
I often wondered what that song sounded like
Now with the miracle of Youtube, I can
Now that I have heard it
What’s the Verdict?
I am glad I didn’t buy this after all

Obviously, not every song can be a good one and I’m prepared to ‘splain myself
Let’s start with the keyboard intro-
It is not often that you hear a Ramones song with keyboards and even less that the keyboards are in a minor key
The keyboards up until now have been to add an uplifting mood like “Do You Remember Rock N Roll Radio” or “Come On Now”

But these are smaller and more creepy sounding keyboards
What is more distracting is that the rockin’ part of the song is at a slightly different tempo which doesn’t really transition well
There is one recognizable riff in the song which reminds me a lot of a riff in “This ‘Ain’t Havana”

This ambitious track was written by Dee Dee and Mickey Leigh (Joey’s Brother)
In the end, it doesn’t feel like a Ramones song

The RAMONE is a One Man Tribute Band that sees The Ramones as a cultural phenomenon and not just an influential rock n Roll band
Please check me out on my Homepage, Facebook and Twiter
The Ramone on FaceBook

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