RAMONES: 42 YEARS AGO

…42 years ago, August 30, 1975; later tonight…

…I saw the Ramones for the very 1st. time at C.B.G.B’s.  I was inspired to visit the Bowery by James Wolcott’s article in the VILLAGE VOICE, “the Conservatism of the New Rock,” which detailed the aesthetics of minimalism that made up the template of punk.

(Mr. Wolcott’s book LUCKING OUT provides a narrative to the music and art scenes of N.Y.C. 74-84.  A very worthwhile read and a reminder of a time when artistic aspiration rather than “reality” moved minds).

My appetite for deliberately abrasive art had been whetted by Antonio Artaud’s writings and musings on the ‘Theater of Cruelty,’ and a FILM FORUM article on FREEBIE AND THE BEAN, both of  which uplifted alienation into an art form and considered neutrality the only artistic vice.

I took the L.I.R.R. into Penn Station to brave the Bowery clad in black polyester pants, at least they weren’t bell-bottoms, and my old All America Camp counselor-in-training t-shirt which I thought/hoped would be an appropriate celebration/denial of whatever-the-heck-happened.

“Are you 18?”

“Yup.”

I entered a dump that looked not unlike the Royale(Roy-Al) which resided across Main St. from my hometown Port Washington, N.Y. railroad station.  The only “decor” that caught my eye was a life-size poster of John Lennon clad in a black leather jacket with a toilet seat around his neck.

(This picture can be found on THE BEATLES: LIVE AT THE STAR CLUB, HAMBURG, GERMANY, an album that is a true template of punk).

Joe Cool was the 1st. band.  My only recollection of them is of a bunch of dorky guys in suit jackets and Cons.

The 2nd. band was Milk n’ Cookies who were the 2nd. C.B.G.B’s band to record a single after Patti Smith’s “Piss Factory.”

 ” 10 girls, 20 girls…I want more,” seemed to be the only lyrics yelped by Milk n’ Cookies’ diminutive lead singer Ian North whose tuneless enthusiasm reminded me of…me singing in the shower.

(“More Girls” can be found by entering ‘Milk n’ Cookies’ on Wikipedia).

Hmmm…

After a 20 minute set there was between set music with “Hippy, Hippy, Shake,” by the Swingin’ Blue Jeans, and “All Day and All of the Night,” by the Kinks, both of which everyone seemed to know all of the words of and were featured on BRITISH ROCK’S GREATEST HITS PART II which was in the Port Washington Public library courtesy of Mark Bates.  Gee, I had thought that I was the only person who knew these songs.

Hmmm…

“Stepping Stone,” by Paul Revere and the Raiders?  I thought that I was the only one roused by this disparagement of social mobility.  I was amazed and amused.

Hmmm…

…The Ramones took the stage…

 “…1,2,3,4…”

Neither I or anything that I would ever comprehend up to and including this very moment would ever be the same.

This is as true at this very moment writing as it was 42 years ago.

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  1. September 1, 2015 at 2:04 am

    Stepping Stone? I knew that one by the Monkees (I was so disappointed when I found out they didn;t play their own instruments – a wee bit obvious when you see the video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_N9Lkpt6SrY

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