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xmag.com : January 2004 : I Love Las Vegas

Saw this rather unremarkable yet life-changing documentary about Dee Dee Ramone last month. Hey is Dee Dee Home was shot by Lech Kowalski over two decades, but most of the footage was filmed shortly before Dee Dee od'd in June 2002 (which, I must point out, is a palindrome and therefore an IRRESISTIBLE FATE: D.D.OD'D).

The film is basically a long interview--off the cuff, unscripted and illustrated with cute clips of Dee Dee over the years. It paints a very human portrait of this dumb goofy kid who somehow became a seminal influence on our culture.

It's an abstract expressionist bit--big brush strokes in four colors. The colors are Connie, Vera, Johnny Thunders and heroin. The Ramones and the success of the Ramones seemed to matter very little to this bowl cut sporting bad boy. He loved his guitars, he loved music, but the story of his life as it played on the four-disk changer in his head went heroin-Thunders-Vera-Connie. The girls he loved and lived with were tattooed on his skin, heart, soul. So was his rivalry with Johnny Thunders, who ripped off Dee Dee's big hit "Chinese Rock" (and half a dozen or so of his girlfriends). In the end it was the love of his life--heroin--that killed him.

I've yet to read Dee Dee's autobiography, LOBOTOMY. I know relatively little of the man--just lots of first-hand stories that he was a dumb junkie asshole. But the way this film distilled his life to FOUR WORDS kinda got to me.

Life is so short--two chicks, one stolen song and half a million bags of dope and it's over. That's it! If you were to tell your life story tomorrow, what would you say? Cash? Career? Cats? Hobbies? Habits? Heartbreaks? If someone made a film of your life and you had to pick four words, what would they be?

It's strange to me to live in a society where the Ramones, where Punk Rock, where Fuck You are seminal. Look around. Our culture has been totally punk rockified. I've got fancy skull-and-crossbones tissues. I saw a Paul Frank skull-and-crossbones sweatshirt on a baby. The Queen of England probably wears studded cuffs and mid-riff baring t-shirts with safety pins. Fuck You, I mean Punk Rock, is a language now, a religion. But to Dee Dee Ramone it was a life. A shitty, boring, hard, fucked, funny short life.

Life-is-short is a real tired cliché. It makes me panic with it's implication that time is running out, that I'll never get "it" all done. After I saw Hey is Dee Dee Home I thought seriously about getting "Connie" and "Vera" tattooed on me, an homage to this fuck-up as much as a reminder to fuckin' fuck up more, to fuckin' live!

But last night folkie nightingale Martha Wainwright fixed my wagon. Martha, sister of Rufus, said, "Life is sooo looong." Try saying that. Then remember that it's Tuesday January 13th or whatever day it is and relax and enjoy it.







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