Checking in with old chum Tesco Vee de los Meatmen, we found a veritable avalanche of spilled pixels on his Facebook page regarding the new Johnny Ramone autobiography slated to come out in April. It seems Rolling Stone and similar lesser periodicals are gearing up the book’s press campaign with quotes from Johnny’s wife Linda about how the book is an autobiography that is “Johnny talking about Johnny.” Isn’t that the definition of an autobiography? Doth the lady protest too much?
Apparently, the underground rumor is that noted true crime scribe and ex-Washington Times writer Steve Miller spent a lot of time with Johnny in the City of Devils during the months before his death, putting together interviews for this book – which just might not have been understood by Johnny to be an “autobiography” at the time. Ahh, but Mr. Miller was unfamiliar with our legalistic ways. Sources familiar with the matter report that after Johnny’s death, the out-lawyered Miller cut a deal to turn over his work, but he is sitting on all the tapes and notes, just in case there is ever a question about his connection to the Man. There’s no doubt that Miller wrote about Johnny’s political views for the Times, and, per this story on Ramonesworld.com-- where he writes eloquently and intimately about the man-- it’s clear that Miller had a close connection and understanding of Ramone.
But back to Uncle Tesco’s Facebook. Mr. Vee--the hustler of hyperbole--pulls no punches in his rant, and we would expect nothing less. When it comes to punk rock, the man is serious and seriously over the top. When it comes to the industry, he doesn’t give a fuck.
And Johnny Ramone was punk rock. The Grand Poobah of the ain’t-as-easy-as-it-looks blazing power chord. “Try this at home kids – and bow down to the master.” A taskmaster, a businessman, a Republican and a complex figure who was as musically significant as Iommi, Hetfield or, for that matter, Greg Ginn. I’m hoping Ramone’s legacy is shrouded in nothing more than truth and light, from all sides. If we can’t get some truth in this corner of the world, where can we? Indeed, “What would Johnny do?”
I remember seeing the Ramones at the Filmore in SF in one of their later tours. Stoner, punker rasta fucks Murphy’s Law opened up. Maybe they were on that tour for a reason, but the Meatmen’s “Blow Me Jah” never made so much sense as when those Rasta impasta’s broke out in a reggae tune and stalked the stage like a troupe of crackers with fresh welfare checks.
But the Ramones—whoa. They were way past whatever college radio loser cache they had by then, and they were no holds barred fucking LOUD. I’m talking “is that a snare or a guitar?” loud. The you-can’t-yell-in-your-buddy’s-ear-loud-enough loud. Hawkwind / Sunn O)))) “are–you-puking-yet?” loud.
I never knew why. I think it was just because they were the Ramones. They can take it and we can’t.
So if Miller made a meaningful contribution to the book, we hope he gets the credit he deserves. Time will tell. This blog is more lawyered up per square inch than any music publication in the universe. Sadly, in the post-grad noir City of Devils, that might just be what it takes to survive.