Entries in Marky Ramone (1)


April 8, 2011

One of the things I like about this blog is it forces me to go to different spots in the city. When I first moved here in 1993 I was running around the city like a Marathon runner gakked to the nines on crystal meth. I love this city and just couldn’t get enough of it. Then after a couple of years I slowed down a little and then when I moved into my apartment on 16th Street pretty much every thing I needed was within a six block radius. I found myself going to the same bar, the same deli, the same diner...well, you get the picture. I had gotten a little jaded and forgot what a great city I was living in. Every year I swore I’d start getting out more and it didn’t happen till last year when I did my 365 Bars blog. I re-discovered the city and decided that my next blog would be running around New York. I just don’t have to go to a bar and drink every night with this one. I could stop and smell the roses and maybe take drugs every now and again. Life is pretty good!

And that leads me up to tonight’s entry. My second entry here at MAD, back in the black and white days...err...nights, was a trip to 53rd and 3rd, a corner immortalized by Dee Dee Ramone on the Ramones first album. Well, Dee Dee’s not the only Ramone in New York City with a corner, on November 30th, 2003 the city of New York officially named the corner of 2nd Street and the Bowery, Joey Ramone Place. I went there back in 2003 and I don’t think I’ve been back since. So let’s go check it out. Hey he, let’s go! (And I know you saw that coming about a three miles away. Gabba gabba hey.)

I had to work a little late tonight, so I'm over here on Fifth trying to hail a cab. It's almost midnight.

This guy crossed two lanes and just about plowed into me. Sheesh! Desperate for a fare, pal? Oh well, he's going our way, let's get in.

And we're off!

And with incredible-like taxi speed we're here! The sign is across the street, let's go check it out.

Okay, here we are at the corner, now where's the Joey Ramone sign, you may be wondering.

It's been stolen so many times by fans, they had to put it up beyond reach. I think they went a little overboard, but I bet Joey would get a kick out of this! Let's try and get a better shot.

And there we go, Joey Ramone Place. The thing about doing these corner stories is once you get the shot, there's not a lot else to do. Oh well, let's wander back towards where I live and take some random photos around the city.

One of my pet peeves, right behind slow-walkers that fan out all over the fucking sidewalk are assholes that bunch up in a group on a sidewalk and block everyone from walking down the street. Don't worry about getting out of my way, assholes, I'll just walk out into the street and almost get hit by a cab again. Jerkoffs!


Speaking of graffiti, here's the infamous Jim Joe tag. This guy leaves his mark all over town.

Wow, thanks for that information! I don't know about you, but I'm guessing the person who made this sign has the last name of Einstein!

Hey, we're not in Flushing, Queens, what's this doing out here?

These two were also admiring the toilet in the trash. We had a nice chat and it turned out they're from Hamburg, Germany and this was their first time in New York. At first they were a little camera shy, but then they loosened up a little and posed for this photo on the street near Broadway.

And then it got really loose and she agreed to hover over the toilet! Good times! Welcome to New York City, ladies!

I stopped and looked at the magazines on display here. Hey, check out the upper right hand corner.

The Ramones! We've come full circle here, so goodnight everybody and see you tomorrow after dark.


Hanging Up On Marky Ramone
In 1995, I decided to upgrade my publication, fishwrap from a 12 page black and white fanzine, to a 48 page magazine with a four color cover. I wanted a theme for the issue and I decided to devote the issue to rock ‘n’ roll magazines. I had gotten to know Bob Guccione, Jr. who was the editor of the highly successful Spin magazine at the time and thought he’d be a good interview. He liked fishwrap and I was pretty sure I could score him for the cover story. Another idea I had was to talk to people in rock ‘n’ roll bands about what they thought of rock ‘n’ roll magazines. I thought I’d call the piece, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Jury.” The only problem was when I went to my Rolodex—yes, Rolodex, this was 1995—and looked under “R” for rock stars it was blank.

While I was wondering how to solve this dilemma, I was listening to Adios Amigos by the Ramones. I had read where this was the last album they were putting out and they were retiring after their last concert tour that year. All of a sudden I decided I wanted to interview one of the Ramones for my rock ‘n’ roll fishwrap. I looked at the back of the CD booklet and in the list of credits it said, “Publicity: ISL Public Relations” and there was a phone number. I walked over to the phone and dialed the number and a woman answered and said: “ISL, can I help you?”
“Uh...hi, um...I’d like to interview a Ramone,” I stupidly said. I hadn’t thought before I dialed and just spit that out. It really sounded dumb and the woman on the other line laughed a little.

“Excuse me?” She said after the chuckle.

“I’m sorry, I publish a magazine and I’m a writer and I’d like to interview one of the Ramones for the next issue,” I said a little more cohesively.

“Oh, sure, hang on a second please,” she replied and I was put on hold.

Now I tensed up, were they summoning a Ramone to do the interview? Did they have the power to produce a Ramone at their beckon call? Gabba gabba hey now!

My questions were answered seconds later. A woman came on the phone and identified herself as Ida Langsam. This was her company and she handled all the publicity for the Ramones. She was really nice and I told her about fishwrap and asked if I could interview Joey and ask him about rock ‘n’ roll magazines. She explained that Joey and Johnny weren’t doing interviews, but I could  have my pick of CJ or Marky.

CJ took  over the bass duties from Dee Dee in 1989 and to be truthful, when Dee Dee quit, I thought it would be the end of the Ramones. But just the opposite happened when their new bassist entered the punk rock quartet. CJ was young, a dyed in the wool...or should I say black leather, Ramones fan. I’ve read in interviews where all the Ramones say he brought a new fire to the band and brought back some of the old spirit. And while he had been in the band for six years back then, Marky was the Ramone I picked to interview.

Marky had a long history with the  Ramones and a lot of people think he’s the original drummer. He wasn’t and all in all, there have been four drummers sitting in the somewhat Spinal Tap like revolving drummers stool. But Marky drummed with them the longest of all four (Clem Burke, the drummer from Blondie only lasted about a week!) so I was thrilled to score an interview with him for fishwrap.

Ida told me that they were out playing shows and that everyday they each got a sheet of what they had to do. Ida said I could call him the next day. Perfect! She instructed me to call the hotel they were staying at and gave me Marky’s room number. She said to call at 5:30 pm sharp and try to keep the interview to between 15 minutes to a half an hour. I told her it wouldn’t take that long and thanked her and promised to send her a couple of copies of the magazine after it was printed.

The next day I was in my apartment and it was just about 5:30 in the afternoon and I was a little nervous. I knew Marky had never heard of my magazine and hoped it wasn’t a drag for him to have to do a phone interview with me.

I took a deep breath, picked up the phone and dialed his number. A guy at the front desk answered, I gave him Marky’s room number and on the second ring he picked it up.

“Hello,” he said in his distinctive Brooklyn-flavored voice.

“Hi, is this Marky?” I asked, even though I knew it was.

“Yeah, speaking,” he replied back.

“Hi Marky, this is Marty Wombacher...”

“Oh yeah, the magazine guy, who do you write for again?”  He asked.

I explained how it was my magazine and it started out as a zine and Marky started asking a lot of questions. He asked me if it was political and I told him it was more on the humorous side and cited the National Lampoon and Spy as influences. He told me he liked that and then he asked me if I knew of a few zines he read and I did and the conversation evolved into talking about See Hear, a magazine and book store in New York that sold lots of zines and writers that we both enjoyed reading. I told him I knew Legs McNeil one of the co-authors of the legendary punk rock book, “Please Kill Me” and Marky asked if I had his phone number and I did. He said he wanted to get in touch with him about writing some liner notes for a CD he was working on, but didn’t have his number out on the road. Before I started digging through the rolodex for Legs’ number, I looked up at the clock. Fuck, twenty minutes had gone by and I didn’t really have anything on tape that was usable for the interview. I hadn’t even asked him about any rock ‘n’ roll magazines!

I gave him Legs’ phone number and asked him what he thought about Rolling Stone and that set him off on a diatribe. He told me he liked some of their political writing but said they were never fair to the Ramones and to punk rock in general. I agreed and he talked about Rolling Stone for a good twenty minutes. Now I was ten minutes over Ida’s deadline and Marky was really on a roll. This guy really liked to talk, but I had to get to my night job soon.

I cut in and asked him what he thought about Spin magazine and that led to another rant. Halfway through I realized I had to leave for work or I was going to be late. I jumped in on Marky’s thoughts about Spin.

“Hey, Listen Marky, I think I’ve got plenty of great stuff here,” I explained, trying to end the conversation, “I really don’t want to take up any more of your time...”

“Don’t worry about it,” Marky said, “I’ve got nothing else to do till the show. I can talk a while longer.”

The only problem was I couldn’t, I had to get to work!

He kept on jabbering away. Twice I tried cutting in and saying I had to go to work, but it’s kind of like he didn’t hear me. This guy really liked to talk!

One of my many little quirks is that I can’t stand being late.
It really stresses me out and can even bring on a panic attack. I realized that even if I left that second I would be late getting to work. I tried in vain to end the conversation, but he kept on talking. The last I heard was him going off on yuppies. I was now officially late for work and was about ready to jump out of my skin knowing this. I had to get going.

So I simply just hung up the phone in the middle of his latest rant and ran to the subway station. I felt bad, but I had to get to work. I imagined he chattered on till he heard a dial tone and then assumed that somehow we had a bad phone connection that ended. He was a nice guy and I hoped he didn’t know that I hung up on him. It was quite rude of me to do, but it sure beat having an anxiety attack over being late for work.

When I finally got to work, Giovanni, the daytime manager was a little pissed. He couldn’t leave till I got there and I was about a half an hour late.

“Where have you been?” he asked gruffly. “You’re never late!”

“I couldn’t get Marky Ramone off the phone,” I shot back.

Giovanni looked at me weird and said, “What?”

“It’s a long story,” I wearily answered, throwing my hands up in the air.

Giovanni patted me on the back and said, “My friend, with you, the story is always long!”

We both laughed and I went to work.

Dee Dee, Johnny and Joey Ramone are all dead now. Marky continues to play music and came out with his own pasta sauce last year. I still work nights and haven’t been late to work since that fateful day in 1995.

Further reading: EV Grieve, The Villager, Grub Street (note the third comment from yours fooly) and ISL Public Relations.

You also might like: Grape Jelly, Slinky and Fred Garvin: Male Prostitute.

Four Ramone Drummers

Jackie is a punk,
Judy is a runt.