Saturday, March 1, 2014

Dee Dee Ramone Figures Into Things (2)

Dee Dee Ramone Figures Into Things 

(Part 2 of 3) How to Care About It in the Wrong Way 

During a summer rainstorm that you could hear from inside a windowless bar on California near Diversey, I got stuck in a longer conversation between my neighbor, Brian, and a skinhead.
        We were lined up at the stools and initially talked about leather jackets. I wanted to know where Brian bought his. My old jacket got ruined through rips and soakings.
In minutes I lost all footing in the conversation, which had turned to Johnny Thunders, who I knew of only as a tattoo on the arms of bleach headed punks.
        Brian and the skinhead worked me through Johnny Thunders' history with the New York Dolls, into The Heartbreakers and up to his New Orlean's death and posthumous rising stardom in books and record shops.
        Then I remembered what I read in Poison Heart, and I said, "Hey, didn't Johnny Thunders steal a song from Dee Dee Ramone? Was it Chinese Rocks?"
        Then skinhead looked into space.
        "Oh no!" he said. "That has never been established." 
        Seeing this, the bartender stopped pouring a draft and watched us from a few feet away as the skinhead explained to me with the aggression of a man abused that Thunders, as a songwriter, played miles ahead of DeeDee. 
        And further, that the man who fronted The Heartbreakers would never stoop to steal a song in all his life. 
        "Especially not from a Ramone!"
        "But maybe he'd steal your watch for heroin," I guessed. Then I got a dirty look. Eventually, Brian was talking hockey and then I knew it was really time to leave.