Punk Rock Blitzkrieg: My Life as a Ramone by Marky Ramone is the latest, and probably last, in a rather specific sub-genre of rock books: Fuck Johnny Ramone. There have been a number of these tomes written, but as Marky is pretty much the only Ramone left alive (C.J. was eaten by a crocodile in Idaho under rather suspicious circumstances,) this will be the ultimate addition to the library.
Marky was the second and fourth drummer in The Ramones, which has led to him being called “the Grover Cleveland of Punk Rock” by me just now. The original drummer, Tommy Ramone had had enough of Johnny’s misery and Joey’s mental instability and Dee Dee’s mental incongruity. (They also would not let him smoke in the van. That is true.) So, he went back to being plain old Tommy Erdelyi and Marc Bell got to take his place behind the drums and in the van.
The van is important to Ramones lore. It is seen as a testament to their working class roots and pragmatic, DIY spirit. It was, in reality, a diesel-powered symbol of Johnny’s stinginess. A gig anywhere from DC to Boston would see them hop back in the van for the long ride home, instead of shelling out for a hotel room. There was no smoking in the van.
It was a weird and scuffling existence. None of them seem particularly bright, except for Tommy (who, if you’ll remember, gleefully sprinted away from these unpleasant outer-boro goons at the first opportunity.) In Marky’s book, Dee Dee is more of a scamp; whereas all other books uniformly portray him as an insane former child prostitute who enjoyed stabbing people.
Johnny Ramone was an asshole. There’s simply no other way to put it. He liked saying asshole things and doing asshole stuff and hit women and rooted for the Yankees. He ran the band like it was a plumbing-supply company in Bayhurst. He fucked the lead singer’s girlfriend. Then, he married her. Johnny did not allow smoking in the van.
And poor Joey. Poor, sick, crazy-as-shit Joey. Counting and touching and not touching and counting again. Stepping up and down and getting him in the van could take hours. Most band meetings were held in the can outside Joey’s house: they knew they’d be there for a while.
But Joey looked like this in his blue jeans, and sounded like this when he clung onto that microphone for dead life in that inside-joke British accent of his:
The Ramones are all dead now, pretty much. Long live The Ramones.
Hey ho, let’s go.