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April 08, 1979 - Image 14

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The Michigan Daily, 1979-04-08
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The Michigan Daily-Sunday, Apri

Page 4-Sunday, April 8, 1979-The Michigan Daily

Gab ba Gabba Hey!

The amones accept you!

HAVE THIS dream, see. (Now, I don't have
nightmares, I don't get scared. Once, recently,
I dreamed about two-footed humanoid giant
rats with tongues grooved like bowling alley
gutters, and I remember watching them with only
passive interest. However, if any dream has scared
'me, it is this one.)
Jerry Rubin, Abbie Hoffman, Tom Hayden, and
all those 1960s guys were really great, right? Well,
in my dream, a bunch of them come into my room to
visit, all standing around the foot of my.bed. Boy,
they sure dressed funny back in the sixties! They
had stuff like green army jackets and tie-dyed t-
shirts on, and one of them had a loop of cartridges
slung around his shoulders, presumably for the rifle
one of the others (there were six of 'em) carried.
They had flags patched onto their jeans, unruly,
outrageously long hair, and one of them (the
unruliest of all) had an "I Like Kate Rubin" button
on. Weird dream, huh? I didn't like them at all when
I first saw them, and when they started talking to
me I knew I hated them.
"How can you sleep when there's shit goin' down
on the streets?" one of them asked. "Man-like, are
you with us or not?" I rolled over and made snoring
So the next thing I know is they're all around my
bed, lifting.it off the ground and dropping it on the
Co-Arts editor R.J. Smith hopes he dies be-
fore he gets old.

floor, ordering me to get up. And just when I rolled
over and was going to tell them where to go, I looked
up and saw the biggest guy pointing the rifle at my
temple. "We don't ask twice, man: Are you an ac-
tivist or not?" That was when I knew I hated them.
So I laid there for a while, and since this was a
dream, I thought I'd go for the king-hell grand prize
of fantasies and imagine my way out: I scanned the
surroundings for some sort of weapon to get these
dried-up geeks from the past out of my room. I
looked at my Archie comics, my empty root beer
cans spread all over the floor, my first-baseman's
glove, my Village People records, and was getting
depressed as hell, because I thought I'd never get
out of here alive. I looked past my pictures of Bob
Denver and my yo-yos, and all of a sudden my
problems were solved!
From the corner of my room where my monster
movie magazines lay in a pulpy tottering stack,
there came a "g-g-g-r-o-a-a-a-ar-rrrrr," and the
bulk of magazines quivered and fell over. From
behind it came one of the greatest monsters ever
depicted in a Japanese B-classic of any
era-Stieglitz! Son of Rodan, inhabitant of the
Maholy-Nagy lakes of Japan's North territory. And
man, those guys never had a chance! First Stieglitz!
went after Abbie, biting off his head and breathing a
dusty smoke over his body that baked it to a crisp.
Then he headed for Hayden, spreading these
massive claws, and with a quick and quiet ripping
motion, poked out his eyes like two bing cherries
skewered on steel rods.

By R.J.- Smith

ferocity with their frazzled jeans and ever-present
black leather jackets, and yet they sport good-
natured goofy mop tops of which the Beatles would
have been proud. They play uncluttered, raw rock
and roll which time and again has been branded
"minimalist" and "dumb" by both their fans and
foes. Arising during a time of innovation and
outrage in popular music (both in the United States
and Great Britain) which spawned a spectrum of
artists falling under umbrella-titles such as "new
wave," "power pop," and "punk," they have been
one of the hardest-working of such groups, and have
received a tremendous share of the attention. Quite
simply, they are one of the two or three best bands
playing rock and roll today.
Like much of the modern art of the past two
decades, the Ramones' work, as a whole, can be
fairly appreciated after only the briefest of encoun-
ters. Their songs, well, they pretty much sound
alike, and this is even more true live, when they
may play six songs in a row uninterruptedereating a
nearly-seamless consistent sonic blur. But there are
two ways of looking at repetition: It can be either
mind-nimbing .or can act to greatly press a point.
And with the Ramones, it is both. Their never-more-
than-three-minute-long, two-stanza songs come at
you like a man with a knife-when they're at their
best, one can only stand there slack-jawed and
MUCH OF THE ROCK of the seventies
communicates messages like a Chinese
wall poster; bands don't create songs,
they issue orders. "We Will Rock You" has become
the fascist cry of countless rock bands (Foreigner,
Styx, Kansas, Van Halen . . . get my drift?), and,
similarly, disco is an exuberantly mind-freeing
music which seems to rid the listener of any
troubling remnants of individuality. With either
case, it's music priming the listener for taking or-
ders from the top. The Ramones have a song called
"I Can't Give You Anything," and that pretty well
sums up their aspirations for their fans. They can
only play rock loud and crucial enough toobliterate
your troubles for awhile, but anything you get out of
their music is very much because of what you have
put in.
Nobody knows much about them really when they
were teenagers in Queens, New York (they are all
26 now). After unsuccessful attempts at being high
school students and then hoods, Tommy, Joey,
Johnny, and Dee Dee got together in 1974 and for-
med their first and only group. It was some after-
noon and one of them pretty literally said, "Hey,
let's form a rock band." After a slap dash first
session, when it was decided who would play what
instrument by virtue of who was least worst at each,
they came up with Johnny on guitar, Dee Dee on
bass, and Tommy on drums (later to be replaced by
Marky)rJoey became the singer because he
couldn't play anything.
For one reason or another, none of them looks
back on their teenage years with much longing.
Joey dropped out of high school and just "hung out"
for several yers; Johnny floated from military
school to military school, and then worked odd jobs,
like being a construction worker; Dee Dee enlisted
in the army and was stationed in Germany. They
lead the life of your basic going-nowhere minimum-
wage street creeps.
But I'd better stress something right now,
because I think a lot of you are getting the wrong
impression. The Ramones are not dumb; or, at
least, no 'honest teenager can look at his life and
then at the life the Ramones sing about, and pro-
nounce the four of them fouls. For if there is a theme
to the music of the Ramones, it is something like,
"Hey, maybe we're all blue-ribbon dopes, but it's
okay. We can have fun together." As they say in
their song "Pinhead":
sGabbagabba -
Werecept you
We accept you } ;

One of us.
I don 't wanna be a pinhead no more
I just met a nurse that I could go for
D- U-M-B
Everyone's accusing me
At the very least, the Ranpones offer their fans
a chance to laugh and point their fingers at the
dorks on the stage: Joey, who looks like a scarecrow
even the crows would laugh at, his face more
cratered than the surface of the moon, is perhaps
the number-one freak attraction. And the rest of the
band follows in stupid sait: Johnny, who plays
guitar, has only begun togexplore any sort of solo
work at all on their fourth album; Dee Dee, the bass
player, seems unaccomplished with human speech
at all. And their songs, like "Gimme Gimme Shock
Treatment," "I Wanna Be Sedated," and "Teenage
Lobotomy," add to their gimp image.
The group takes this all philosophically. "I think
the hipper ones, the ones that are more on the ball,
understand it-the genius of the Ramones," says
Joey with a giggle. "Like, when we started off, we
were so sick of like all the groups out now, like all
their lyrics are- full of sex and drugs and
stupidity-like, nobody knows how to write good
lyrics anymore, like you can listen to ten songs in a
row and every song is about some girl or some
bullshit, you know? And we like to write, you know,
fun songs about what we find amusing and songs
that deal with things we see. I mean, there's more to
life than fucking and doing cocaine."
The Ramones at their best offer their audience a
whole lot more.
The mid-seventies were bland times for rock and
roll, and the effects of those years linger on today.
"Music is in a sad state, you know?" says Joey.
"It's sludge, it's garbage. If it doesn't sound like
Foreigner then it's disco;- it's pathetic." Cor-
porate-types have moved into the business, forcing
young people out. Radio, which once had an in-
credible power to expose unpredictable listeners to
a variety of music, has somehow fallen into the
same rut; it is conservative, and radio people would
rather reach to a play list of a limited number of
formulaic songs than take the risks involved with
Saying this, of course, is nothing new. It is
something that members of various undercurrents
in the rock world have railed against, with varying
degrees of success, for many, many years. But the
Ramones, it seems to me, have perhaps the most
daring approach to the machinations of rock and
roll big biz: In a completely honest and innocent
way, they embrace the fragments of the pop world,
hating it only because that world has not yet gran-
ted them acclaim.
For so many punk or new wave bands of the
seventies, "making it" has meant doing things on
one's own terms, tripping up the record companies
that want you to follow their orders, slamming the
radio stations that fail to expose, let alone promote,
anything new and different. Seething dissatisfaction
takes many different forms; the Sex Pistols singing
"God Save the Queen," for instance ("god save the
Queen/ She ain't no human being"), or Elvis
Costello doing "Radio Radio" ("And the radio is in
the hands/ Of a lot of crazy fools/ Trying to
anesthetize the way that you feel").
And if anyone should seethe, it is the Ramones.
They come from the soft scrapings of the white un-
derbelly of New York streetlife, and they are
uneducated and still far from rich. But the
remarkable thing is-they like things the way they
are. "We're a patriotic group," explains Joey. "And
we get angry when people put kids or Americans
down. I feel like I really love this fucking country,
you know? I mean, everybody's got their problems,
you know, things are bad everywhere. But it's still
the best."
T'S DAMNED impossible to be cool nowadays.
. Theolder people, those who remember the
' sixties and predate the Ramones, had it

incredibly, unfairly easy: like through some
unrepeatable formula, something cracked
somewhere and issues like the war, equal rights, the
sexual revolution, and freedom of speech all fizzed
out, rolling out to all those kids who were just waiting
to get their hands on 'em. Those guys took all the
issues and fueled by pressure from their parents
that said that to demonstrate and speak openly and
to feel good about your body was a bad thing, they
just went nuts! They protested, they burned down
buildings, they took acid and made love in the
And if any of that stuff lived on today, if it could, I
would cry -with joy. But it just doesn't: The
revolution in the sixties was about saying "no!" to
your country and your parents. Things are different
today. Parents, the media-everyone-forces
"yes!" down kids' throats far faster than the kids
could possibly resist. And the weird thing really is
that what they are forcing on kids nowadays is
that-superfically-it is okay to do anything. Today,
parents invite their kids to smoke dope With them,
and health food stores are next door to Burger
To define one's self as a person today, to find
something to say "no!" to, now means searching
out and destroying an incredibly insidious source
of pressure to teenagers: not parents anymore,
but the kids of the sixties. Who better to rebel again-
st than those who now wiggle their fingers of
authority and demand responsibility, activism, and
seriousiness, seriousness, seriousness! It really
isn't the issues that gets a thing like the sixties
rolling; it's the oppression that sparks the fierce
crowd reaction (and don't believe the jive that
today we don't have things to fight about like they
did in the sixties, that now we have "more bread
and butter issues").
If things really are going down the toilet, that's
when it's logical to fight. For instance, compared to
what it's like in Great Britain right now, we're sit-
ting in Heaven. The punks there like the Sex Pistols
and the Clash need to howl and vomit about things.
But what have rockers-the lot of 'em mostly white
middle-class-got in America today, except lots of
free time and a fairly firm promise from the gover-
nment that if they can't provide for themselves,
others will?

Into this seventies utopia enter the Ramones.
Where sixties people hastened to batter their con-
nections with the country, the Ramones revel in
them, and the more banal the better. Yeah, it was
hip to put dowm drive-ins and aimlessness and junk
food and America before. But not anymore.
R EMEMBER Supermarket Sweep, the game
show where contestants would cruise down
the aisles of their neighborhood A&P, try-
ing to cram as much food as they could into their
carts before the time ran out? Well, like that, the
Ramones hive taken an endless whirlwind tour of
America, plunging into all the quantity of goods and
insurmountable boredom. Yes, they celebrate it,
never criticizing it to the point of openly confronting
and rejecting it. But they also do more than just
celebrate. With practically nothing in theory denied
us, they ask, how can anything be special, how could
virtually anything have any deep importance?
I used to be an A student
1 never used to complain
I used to be a truant -
But I'm still the same
Bad bad brain
Bad bad brain...
And with so much junk all around, junk food and
junk homes and junk ideas and junk politics, how
can anything not be boring? How could anyone
I don 't like summer and spring
I don 't like anything
1 don't like sex and drugs
I don 't like waterbugs
I don't care about pover/y
All I care about is me
And I'm against it

"The words for our songs
perience, and, like, things that
you know, everyday life, like
and stuff," says Joel. "We'
fanatics and collectors. We've
and have been listening to it E
well-since the fifties. There's 1
Probably like just everything
has been absorbed by someb
Armed with new drummer ]
ficiently dense by way of
suggests he caught hockey p
long without the benefit of
Ramones are set to ma
killing-victory on their own t
is provided they are around
any of it. Every time I see thei
more devastated, seeming re
audience at any moment
microphone, he looks almosi
cripple, and their last shov
lunatic-fringe feeling to sor
exhilerating, but downright d
and Joey if they were afraid(
if they kept playing as loud a
difference, I'm deaf now," s
matter if you're deaf when y
you're rich too," explained Jo
Those great pictures of tl
which find their way into rock
and then-Dee Dee laying in 1
the floor) amid a sewage-
burger wrappers, milkshak
books and God-knows-what-
bigger than a large clos
cheekishly exaggerated, but
real possibility. With their g
into the guts of American

KIND WORDS, Steve Martin, sex,
disco, devoting yourself to a
cause, and books are all things that are
either inaccurately labeled cool today,
or things that long ago outlived their
coolness. Of course, some dopes hold
onto things for far too long, but with
this guide you can be keyed in to the
coolest, the liveliest, the most self-
destructive, the very scuzzy, wheezing
heartbeat of what's going on today:
*Archie Comics. Archie Andrews
has to be the hippest, most timeless
teenager ever created, with Jughead
(the ultimate Bob Denver-type) a close
second. Now Riverdale, there's a
modern utopia, a place where one's
biggest concern is whether Betty or
Veronica has the widest hips. If only
Ann Arbor could have a Pop's
Chocolate Shop.
" Hostess Snowballs. I could have
listed virtually any Hostess product,
but seeing how this is the only food I
know that bounces, it deserves special
mention. Their berry pies are- also
especially praiseworthy, because the
seeds stick to your teeth and allow you
to eat for hours.
" Miniature golf, air hockey,
drinking. Three of the best ways to
spend one's time I can think of, and
none of them expensive or useful.
And there are many more, such as
Paul Harvey and The Warriors (fine
role models), Heckle and Jeckle, wax
lips, Mark Fidrych (always), joy buz-
zers, X-ray specs, Hogan's Heroes, and
banging your 'hoidaginst: l+°'llt
Now-go out and get 'em.


He lunged at John -Sinclair and Rennie
whatsisname, and inhaled them!-they vanished
immediately. And then he looked hungrily at Jerry
Rubin and toop a step forward and ...
Well, in my dream, I fell back to sleep, and I don't
even remember how it finished up. Al I recall is
that once that night, early in the morning, I woke up
and there was a peace sign scratched into the frost
of my bedroom window. I got up and erased it with
my elbow. "Give peace a chance," I thought.
"My ass."
* * *
THE RAMONES SOUND Like what you would
feel if you were to stick your head into a
cuisinart. Or if you looked too long at a
solar eclipse. Or if you gave yourself (or was given
by a loved one) a barbed-wire enema. It's music to
hurt, and the sound of a Ramones concert gongs in
your ears long after you have left the show.
"I don't think our music has violence," says Joey
Ramone, the group s singer. "We have a lot of
aggression, -you know? Our music, it's like
frustration and aggression and, well, we're not
violent people. I mean, sometimes you have no
choice, but like we're qqttoublemakers."
The Ran'one Icotlike a'crazyni ix of two
decades: They present a "don't mess with me"

-, . - ii 4

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