Friday, March 31, 2006

What Will the Neighbors Think

Just came across this -- Murphy's Law "What Will the Neighbors Think". I play the dominatrix. Shit, come to think of it, I always play the dominatrix. But this one was really fun and you'll probably see a lot of people you know in it, definitely reminds me of the Coney days. Just make sure you hit play and then pause again and let it load before trying to play it or it will be too choppy.

 

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Joey Ramone

My friend Kat is working on a piece for college about Joey Ramone. I thought some of you might like to see the answers to the interview she gave me. Please do not borrow any of this as it's exclusively hers.

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How did you discover the Ramones? Roughly what year or age? 




I was 15 or 16 and I would buy every rock magazine I could get my hands on, so I'm sure I read about them before I heard them. This was before you could see bands regularly on TV and eons before the internet so all information on music was garnered from Creem, Circus and Rolling Stone. Then I would have to go talk the guy that owned the only record store in town into special ordering albums for me, bc no one wanted the shit I was into. I finally got Rocket to Russia and ran home to play it right away. On my way home I ran into my neighbor and showed it to him. He said, "Thats punk rock, isnt it?" And I said "Yep..."



Then I went home and put the record on and wondered what the hell was wrong with the guy singing, he sounded like he had marbles in his mouth. But I loved it and played it over and over, hopping around the room.


What were your impressions of Joey as a fan? (assuming you were a fan before you were a friend).


I loved that he looked so gawky and strange, and that the way he pronounced words when he sang was so weird. He was like a glorious punk rock alien. I tore all the knees out in my jeans because of Joey, I liked the way his skinny legs looked poking through the holes.


What went through your mind the first time you saw the Ramones live? When and where was this?


I saw them at the Ritz, where heinous Webster Hall is now. It was one of the first shows I went to when I moved to NYC so it must have been around 1983. My friend Leslie made me come really early so we could be at the front of the stage and I ended up getting in a physical fight with a girl who kept trying to get in front of me. She grabbed onto my hair and I couldn't fight her properly because she held my head down with it. I was so frigging mad. That was probably the first and last time I stood right in front of a stage. Anyway, the show was awesome, of course. I think the first thing that went through my mind was, "Shit, they're playing so FAST."


How did you meet Joey?


Around that same time I went to Danceteria to see Hanoi Rocks play. When I walked in Joey was standing at the third floor bar by himself. I couldn't believe it and immediately went up and introduced myself. I said, "Hi! I'm Raffaele." And he said, "Hi. I'm Joey." And that was it, I didn't know what else to say. He was the first official rock star I met in NY. I met Michael Monroe and Rik Ocasek that night too.


How did your opinions of Joey change as you went from fan to friend? (again assuming you were a fan first).


I just grew to have a great fondness for him. My opinion didnt change, I always thought he was the coolest, but my personal affection grew.



What do you think made Joey special/different/great as a friend/person?
 

Joey and I were never super close, like I was close enough to have his phone number and email but I never called him and rarely emailed. So I can't say that I knew all of his secrets as a friend or anything. But to me he was always very sweet and humble, and he was easy to hang out with, no entourage or bullshit. Joey was very generous with his time and energy as far as helping out bands that he like and he really loved music and always worked to help out local bands and make things happen in the scene. He never acted like he thought he was better than anyone and he came out regularly to see bands and socialize.


What do you think it was about Joey that captivated audiences and also people on an individual basis?


That he was such a weird looking and sounding guy with so much charisma onstage. He made you realize that you didn't have to be Robert Plant to be a frontman for a cool rock and roll band. He made it all seem possible.


As a friend, what role did Joey play in your life?
 

Joey was my first indication that my rock and roll dreams could actually happen. I bought his records and read about him and then I came to NY and there he was, just standing there. So he was my first rock star friend. Then when I was in Cycle Sluts From Hell he helped the band immensely, and I have often said that he is a big reason we got so much attention quickly. So his friendship helped my own musical career. Our second gig ever was opening for the Ramones (at the Ritz again) and that was huge, and completely due to him. We spent a lot of time hanging out partying with him late at night, often in our apartments until well after the sun came up. After that era things mellowed out, Joey stopped drinking and the scene changed, but I would still see him out and about. Then when I started running Coney Island High and going out with Jesse Malin we spent more regular time with him, going to movies or barbeques or whatever, because they were very close friends. Joey was just a part of my NY experience from the time I got here to the time he died.


What did he mean to you personally? (because I am trying to express his impact on the people around him in this paper)
 

I'm not sure how to answer this. I loved Joey and I'm very grateful that I got to have him in my life. He was the personification of NY rock and roll and a lovely person.


What kind of impact do you think Joey had on the world?
 

The Ramones changed everything. There was nothing like them before or since, and they still have rabid fans all over the world. As I said, I think Joey made people see that they didn't have to be Adonis with a perfect voice to be a great frontman.



I've heard vague evidence that Joey was a warm, loving person. What are your thoughts?
 

Most definitely.


Something I would like to convey in this project is Joey, like others, had some kind of adversity that he in a sense overcame to achieve the things he did in his life. I know he had OCD and would like to know what you think about the role that aspect of his life played to influence his professional life. Since I am having a difficult time structuring questions around a subject I find sensitive I would love it if you would share your thoughts on this. Basically did you see this side of him and how do you think it affected him. Also if you think that was a big factor in his drive and heart for his music.



I know that Joey had OCD but I didn't see evidence of it very often. I know he had a little thing where he would have to step up on curbs more than once. And physically he was just fragile, like he had really bad balance and moved slowly. I know he was never that strong physically and I would imagine the OCD made touring harder for him, but I never heard him discuss it. Joey was very private about that kind of stuff. I don't think it affected his drive for music, except maybe that he loved rock enough to get out there and do it regardless of the issues that could have held him back.



I've heard it said that Joey was a very complex person. Do you have any opinions or explanations about this?

He was complex, as we all are. He also wasn't perfect, as none of us are, but any opinions or explanations I might put here wouldn't be fair because I wasn't privy to his very personal life. I wouldn't want to speculate or open up things that he might have wanted to keep private. 


What were you doing and how did you feel when you heard the news that Joey had passed away?
 

I was on a train with Jesse. We knew he wasn't doing well in the hospital and we were waiting for news. Jesse got a message on his cellphone that Joey was gone and we didn't talk, just looked out the window feeling sad for the rest of the ride.


Having recently lost Biscuit of the Big Boys I really felt the energy change in Austin. Did you have any similar feelings with Joey gone? Or is he gone?


Yes. For me it was the end of the rock and roll era in NYC. 


How do you think Joey's passing affected people in the scene in NYC?


I don't know for sure. I know he's missed. I know that the bands he was trying to help out were sorely affected by his loss. He was in the middle of shooting a video that he was funding and directing for his favorite local band The Independents when he died (I played a vampire queen in it btw, I don't know what happened to the footage). So those guys were just crushed, they loved him personally and all the help he was going to give them was gone, it was a double blow. I think we all just miss him and his name still comes up a lot in conversations when I'm out. 


Was there any social evidence in the week following?
 

There are always a lot of people trying to get in on the drama when someone famous dies. Everyone wants to be at the funeral and feel a part of it. I hate that kind of stuff and didn't participate. I mourned Joey in my own way. I think I had a conversation with him while I was doing the dishes, sort of telling him I hoped he was okay and wishing him well on the other side. I did go with Jesse to the unveiling of the tombstone a year after he died, that was much quieter.


When the Ramones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, were you at the ceremony, watching it on TV. Where were you?
 

Jesse went, I watched it on TV.


What were your feelings on the induction, and what was said by Tommy?
 

I don't remember what he said, actually, but I always thought Tommy seemed pretty cool. Definitely the most rational of the surviving members.



Were you at the dedication of Joey Ramone Square? How did you feel? Please describe a little about what it was like.
 

No, I had to work. I saw people waiting around CBs when I walked past in the morning. Again, Jesse was there so I got the lowdown from him. I think it's wonderful that they named that spot after Joey, I pass the sign often and it makes me feel hope that rock isn't completely dead. I'm sure Joey loves it.


Did you have to travel specifically for the event? If so could you describe what the circumstances were that compelled you to go?


Nope, it's in my 'hood.

In closing I would like to ask if you have anything you would like to add: comments about Joey, memories, observations, etc.


Joey was a lovely person and a real rock star and I am grateful I knew him.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Light & Dark


Please stop before you read this. This blog is very heavy, and its about animal abuse and my thoughts on God. If you don't want to read about either of those things, don't worry, I won't be offended and I'll be back to rock and roll silliness soon enough.
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I have gotten to a point in my life where I am unable to watch or read anything too disturbing for entertainment. I think my taste is still pretty dark in some ways, but there has to be some light at the core of the story, even if it's a sad or depressing one. I love Rob Zombie, but I don't want to watch his movies and gratuitous violence makes me feel uneasy and sick inside. I will never watch Irreversible even though some of my friends have told me it's a great movie. I just can't handle it anymore, the cynical stuff makes me feel like I'm polluting my soul. I know that sounds a little bit corny but it's the truth.


I have a lot of animal rights oriented people in my friend list. I don't know all of them but we have that particular issue in common. I send letters and emails where they advise and I donate to whatever causes I can. Animals are all important to me. I know that there are other worthy causes in the world but this is the one that keeps me awake at night. However, I don't watch PETA films on how fur is skinned or how animals are treated in labs, because I can't handle it. I already know that it's going on, and I don't need any more convincing that it needs to stop. I am the choir, and I don't need preaching to.


Yesterday one of my myspace acquaintances posted a bulletin that I opened as I was casually finishing up my night, not expecting anything out of the ordinary. It contained detailed, close-up photos from a Chinese fetish film in which a woman killed a kitten with her heels. It was absolutely devastating. I don't want to give any unnecessary details but I will say that the photo that destroyed me completely was one where the kitten looked up at her happily, and with complete trust. It was the absolute destruction of innocence, darkness over light, all caught on film.


Words can't express how absolutely distraught I am feeling about it today. I lay awake all night last night trying to create some order in my mind and I spent my entire day bursting into tears and snapping at people. I have been crying since I got home from work. I feel as if I've gone through something traumatic in my own life.


I don't often talk about God in my blogs because although I have some very definite spiritual beliefs I don't think myspace is the place to get into it. But I will say that I spent most of last night handing the kitten over to God. I know that that kitten suffered a momentary pain and then went back to Source without my assistance. But I feel so powerless and wounded by it that I also need to find a way to acknowledge that I have no control, and that there is a higher law that I may not see in action here but is still one I can trust. I have to see it this way or I will go mad. And deep down I know it is the truth.


On Sunday I watched Dr. Wayne Dyer on PBS. He is a great source of information on how to live your life more fully, if you have never heard of him. He had a beautiful woman on his show named Immaculee Ilibagiza. She is a Tutsi who survived the genocide in Rwanda and wrote a book about her experience. The book is called "Left To Tell" and I intend to read it as soon as possible.


During the genocide, she and seven other women were hidden by a Hutu pastor in a 3 x 4 foot bathroom for 3 months. They were unable to bathe, lie down or really move. Men hunting for them looked through the house repeatedly, over and over, calling her name and the names of the others, saying things like, "I have killed 399 pigs, if I find her I will have an even 400." She held her breath and waited to die for months. But she didn't die, she just had to stand there quietly while her mind when through all the machinations that it did. At the end of the ordeal she came out weighing 60 lbs. and her whole family, her belongings, everything that she was and had was gone.


This woman spoke with such quiet, gentle forgiveness about this horrible time, and about how she went through her thoughts down into her True Self, where she found peace and forgiveness in the midst of that which cannot be forgiven. While she spoke I felt that I was watching a very evolved being impart the Truth.

So somehow the two things are connected for me, I can't stop thinking about either one, and I know that there are no coincidences. I know that I am meant to have this information. I haven't yet pieced it together completely, but I think that through this woman's voice the Universe was trying to show me (and others) that there is a place of light even in the darkest times. That even when we are in our bodies in the blackest moments there is a soul that is greater than our circumstances that we can trust will be there when the bodies and circumstances are gone. It is a place of light where we can go when we are surrounded by darkness. I have to trust that if this is true for a beautiful African woman that it is also true for a trusting kitten, and for the people who live in such darkness that they cannot see that destroying either one of those things is a crime against their own selves as well.


I truly hope I haven't upset anyone with this blog. I just have to get it out there today.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

More Adventure Please!

First, a big thank you to those of you who've actually mentioned you missed my blogs. I am very flattered. I know I haven't written anything in a while, truth is that there hasn't been a burning desire to say anything, which, if you know me, is fairly miraculous. But I'm back!


One random thing - I can't believe how much the display photo on this site dictates the level and style of contact that you get on here, it's remarkable. I think all my male friends on myspace should put up a photo of a hot girl for a day and just see what happens. I've been getting a lot of black metal guys with the upside down cross photo, and I feel a little guilty because it's a fraud, but that's infinitely better than the random onslaught that occurs with the other "friendlier" photos. I changed out of the black metal photo and then went back a few hours later. I couldn't stand it. Oh, and I got a nasty email from one girl saying she knows Cherie and didn't like my profile rant about not wanting collectors. Maybe I'll post that in another blog because it's also interesting.


And for those of you who are curious, the 69 Eyes gig was really fun. Bowery Ballroom was crowded and the band sounded great. Afterwards we went to Ming's on Avenue B, which was sufficiently gothey enough to get the boys a lot of attention and where Jyrki handed me endless glasses of jagermeister until I was beyond drunk. Drinking with Finns is nigh on impossible, they are professionals and they will kill you and then stand over the puddle that once was you mumbling things about Hanoi Rocks. It's brutal. There were a couple of people taking pictures, if they're located I'll post them later on.


I did meet the famed Bam Margara, although I still don't really get why he's famous. Jyrki and his drummer Jussi did a radio show with him on Sirius and I thought the guy's style was really crass and juvenile, that typical rock and roll party dude frat-boy mentality where women are either hot pussies or ignorable skanks and nothing else. Which I suppose is why he's loved on MTV. But he's helping someone I care about to reach more people in the States, so I have to give him that respect at least. And we shared a cab with him and he seemed pretty nice, except that he didn't even pretend to pull out any money at the end of the ride. Jyrki (who is always a gentleman) wanted to pay but I beat him to it. I am happy to chip in for cabs but I'm old fashioned and think guys should at least expect that they're going to pay for the whole thing, especially if MTV is paying them loads of money for acting the ass. And he was with one of those horrible "I'm with the famous guy so I'm not going to acknowledge your presence" kind of girls, who actually sat next to me in the cab and never once looked at me throughout the ride and conversation. And forget about pretending to pull out any money for the cab fare. It's like that type feels that they're so cool that they cannot deign to give any sign that any other woman exists. Even when you're fucking giving them a ride in YOUR cab to a party of YOUR choosing. I hate that kind of petty bullshit with a passion and there's always at least one trying it in the room when you are around someone (marginally) famous. Tara, you will have to come up with a name for this archetype.


But then I thought: Okay, whatever, bitch. You have to sleep with that yutz at the end of the night and you'd better enjoy his tiny bit of notoriety now because I doubt it's going to last that long and then you're going to have to act the snot in some suburb in NJ with your paunchy used-to-be-on-MTV husband who calls everyone dude and refuses to get a real job and spends all day getting stoned with Sebastian Bach. Either that or he'll cheat on you with some horrorshow porn star in LA and then you'll have to find another low-rung celebrity who will allow you to stand stone-faced next to them. Either way will be revenge enough for me.


Anyway, the night was a lot of fun but sort of set me off on a weeklong existential crisis that I have been utilizing as a torture device for friends. Yes, yet another one. I seem to have them every month, perhaps it's really just PMS that I'm trying to disguise as something deeper? It's frigging hard being female sometimes, you can never be sure whether it's hormones or bonafide angst. The question is always there: am I complicated or just full of estrogen?


My current crisis is that I got a glimpse into what my life used to be like on a regular basis, and it made me realize how constrained I've set things up to be now. Which is not to say that I am unhappy. I think my life is great, and I have fun and am generally a happy person. But I always expected to lead a life of rock and roll excitement until the end and lately it has been most decidedly lacking in the adventure department.


I quit singing in bands because I was burnt out and because I didn't want to turn 40 and be lugging gear into CB's. I didn't want to wake up one day and find myself irrelevant or embarrassing, another shrunken head trying to relive the glory days. I also couldn't deal with working the side jobs to support it anymore, I wanted something more. Bartending is only good for a certain amount of years, after you pass a certain line you become that bitter, angry bartender that everyone hates, and I got to a day when I realized I had more to offer the world than a Budweiser and a snarl. So I quit my last band The Creeps (which in my opinion was actually better than the Sluts) and focused on managing Coney Island High, and for a point thought that my life would be about managing rock clubs. But Giuliani and pop culture turned that into an impossible nightmare and I quit to take a job offer to general manage a magazine and printing company. That collapsed a year or two later and now I'm at Patricia Field, which is an absolute nuthouse but is also where I can be myself, and where I am loved and treated well.


I have the kind of job that many people would kill to have, and I do enjoy it most of the time. Not all aspects - I deal with the numbers end of things, bank statements, bills, etc. and that's boring as hell and certainly not a job I EVER envisioned having. And if I'm not there on payday the store turns into a gayer version of that rumble scene in Anchorman-- people on fire, limbs getting chopped off, trident throwing, horses, general madness and mayhem combined with a lot of high pitched squealing. Which means that my schedule is pretty much written in stone. But I also get paid well to shop for lingerie, and how could you not love that? Nothing makes me happier than poring over lingerie catalogs or sipping coffee in a pink showroom while discussing silk vs. nylon. I rearrange my little section in the store and enjoy seeing people get excited over the things I've chosen.

But as I watched my friend get on his tour bus and ride into the sunset I had a moment of panic that life was rolling on without me, that there is a big party out there that I haven't been attending lately.

I thought:  I want a tour bus, Daddy. I want a tour bus NOW!


Okay, maybe not exactly, and yes, I know we'd all like that plus a couple of million bucks. But I am yearning for more excitement, goddamnit. I am supposed to be leading a rock and roll life and have somehow set myself up so that it's fairly impossible much of the time. How did I end up having to get up in the morning to work 5 days a week? This is not what I had planned! I want to get on a plane and fly out to exotic locations and get drunk with my famous friends while they play their shows. I want to get on the bus and roll into a new town with music blasting on the stereo, cracking the same inside jokes over and over again, anticipating the night's activities. I want to have nothing to do all day but put on way too much makeup and play a show for a half an hour and then party with attractive strangers who think I'm much cooler than I actually am.


But that is not my reality now. I have a job, cats, an epileptic dog with abandonment issues, rent to pay, and a relationship worthy of respect. Sigh...I am no longer able, or I guess willing, to act like the crazy Cycle Slut I once was, and sometimes the responsibility of being an adult feels heavy.


I should insert here, however, that many of my friends, and most definitely my sister would beg to differ, as they think it could be about time I grew up and may be beating the proverbial dead horse. I don't want to have kids. I am committed in my relationship but I don't care about getting married, I still dress like a hooker and am not averse to getting up on platforms or couches to perform whorey dances when the music is loud enough. I occasionally ingest substances that are not necessarily doctor recommended. But don't listen to my sister, she's crazy and strangely obsessed with guinea pigs. I still maintain that I have possibly become too responsible for my own good.


Drew is on tour in Europe, as he has been for much of the last year, and I have to admit that at times I get too tweaked out about what he's doing on the road, even though I know that he is a great guy and would never do anything too crazy to fuck anything up between us. It has occurred to me that the reason that I'm focusing too tightly on what he's doing is that I'm totally jealous that he's in Europe playing shows while I am getting up early to use an adding machine.


I don't really have an answer, and I'm not complaining in any way about my life. Drew has to work his ass off when he's home to make up for the money lost when he's out on the road, and that's often the reality of being in a band today. I realize that there are people reading my blogs that would be very excited to have half of what I have had. I am a lucky girl and am by no means ungrateful. Part of my reason for sharing it is to clean away some of the mystery for people and I know that one of my jobs here in this life and body is to bring this information, to open up my world for examination for those who haven't been as fortunate as I have. And I'm happy to do it.


I suppose I'm writing this down to explain why I haven't had anything too real to write about lately. I'm stagnating a bit and trying to find the answers. I don't think the answer is getting in a van and sweating it out with some new band while my savings dwindle. Plus truthfully, I was never the greatest singer on the planet and mostly got by on charisma and humor. I am getting a little long in the tooth for that and I am also a lover of my creature comforts, my overpriced bras, my clean sheets, my overfed pets, and a steady cash flow. So for the time being I suppose I'm just going to try to get to a few more shows until I figure it out. I may be going to see Rob Zombie this week even though it's a school night, and I'm going to Children of Bodom with Tati next Sunday if she'll have me, and even though Monday is all important payroll day.


Let the fashion crew sweat it out a little. Mommy's coming in late, goddamnit.