Unsolicited Gabba Gabba Hey On Marky Ramone’s Autobiography

If you’ve ever caught an interview with Marky Ramone you know he tends to sound a little rehearsed, like he has stock answers he’d prefer to substitute for in-the-moment emotion. Punk Rock Blitzkrieg: My Life As A Ramone reads a lot like that. It’s less heated than Johnny’s Commando or any of Dee Dee’s volumes, working hard to cram in the most superfluous exposition (OMG, we know what the fucking Berlin Wall was). That said, our self-proclaimed Chicken Beak Boy manages to add a tiny bit of fresh perspective to the Ramones legend while additionally owning up to his own bonkers alcoholism.

Granted, it’s frustrating the drummer can be so candid about substance abuse while ignoring more interesting bits of his mythology, but I suppose only a fool would have expected a chapter devoted to Mark’s alleged wig wearing. There are also several points where it’s not difficult to read between the lines. Die-hards are familiar with the drama between Marky and C.J. and in this tome the former damns the latter with faint praise, mostly saluting his attitude while offering no adjective above “good” to describe the bassist’s playing. Even more telling: there’s no reference to the half decade Mark spent drumming for the Misfits.

Punk Rock Blitzkrieg covers well-worn ground in regard to the founding “bruddahs”: Johnny was fervently right wing, Joey was severely OCD, Dee Dee never met a pill he didn’t like, Tommy was sensitive. Even the author’s struggles with the bottle have been tackled to varying degrees elsewhere. If there’s any revelation in PR Blitzkrieg it’s Marky’s admission that he believes Phil Spector to be innocent of Lana Clarkson’s 2003 murder. Give him credit for sticking by his pal.

The most fascinating stuff in the book comes before Mark’s time in the Ramones, when he bounced from power trio Dust to country rockers Estus (major label ding dongs who owned a swank mansion in upstate New York) before landing in Richard Hell’s Voidoids. The Voidoids were mastering their debut album the night of the 1977 New York City blackout. On his way home, Mark decided it was time to get his; he picked up a trash can and attempted to hurl it through a bank window. The can bounced off the plexiglass like a Nerf football. Inside, a security guard smiled and waved.

Other interesting snippets: Steven Tyler was nice to the Ramones back in the day, Sting wasn’t, Dee Dee’s rap career was just as much about annoying the other Ramones as it was about a love for hip hop, Marky has a twin brother named Fred, Marky likes the Circle Jerks.

Punk Rock Blitzkrieg summed up in one line: probably the one on the last page where Marky expresses satisfaction with his career because both the Pope and Obama are Ramones fans. I’ve never seen Barack in a Mondo Bizarro t-shirt but I’m happy to take the Chicken Beak’s word.

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6 responses to “Unsolicited Gabba Gabba Hey On Marky Ramone’s Autobiography”

  1. Mark Prindle says :

    Does he seriously claim that Obama and the Pope are Ramones fans!? Or is he just extremely confused by that line in “We’re a Happy Family”? Either way, THANKS FOR GIVING AWAY THE ENDING ASSHOLE. #noreasontoreaditnow

  2. jamesgreenejr says :

    He does seriously claim these things. Based on how cool the Pope is I could believe it. I could also believe Obama telling someone to tell Marky he’s a fan because he’s got “Sedated” on his iPod. You should still read the book, Mark, there’s a great story about Marky throwing a frog at Dee Dee.

  3. keithramone says :

    I look forward to reading this. Not surprised about lack of CJ love or Misfits dirt… but does he finally offer an opinion on Richie’s (excellent) drumming skills?

    Dude, you chiding Marc for filling the book with familiar themes is a bit glass house-ish for the writer of This Music Leaves Stains! You do realize that a good portion of that was kinda familiar to fans too right? Don’t get me wrong, I’m very glad the book exists (I reckoned I would write the Misfits book myself someday if that particular vacuum persisted; would be a bit more productive than wasting time posting crap about music on the internet for an audience of 4. Hi Mark Prindle!) Also Doyle running away from Macho Man was a shocking gem, and you did a great job with painting the picture of the Caifas’ meeting with Glenn at the latter’s house, as well as the bits about the prehistory of the band. But! How well did you fact check that old chestnut about Bobby Steele and John Lennon?

    I am very fond of the book.

    Going to see Marky/Andrew WK?

    Prindle’s Record Reviews (RIP) FTW!

  4. jamesgreenejr says :

    Marky does not speak to Richie’s skills. He barely speaks of the guy. Clem Burke gets more attention. However, I believe Mark is on record somewhere dismissing Richie’s playing as “too jazzy.” Maybe in Monte’s book.

    I wasn’t chiding Mark in that bit of my review, just pointing out that he hits many of the accepted Ramones narrative fence posts. An observation, not a complaint, though I can see how it might come across that way. I could be more thorough/precise sometimes in my writing.

    Trust me, as a Misfits fan it pained me to go over so much familiar ground in my own book, but I did the best I could. I’m happy you seem fond of the work I did overall. Thanks.

    Sean Lennon has no memory of the Bobby Steele/J. Lennon incident. J/K, he wouldn’t return my calls.

  5. keithramone says :

    Thanks for your response.

    Fuck, it’s 8:30 Sat night… No Marky at Grammercy. Wife working, no babysitter. Same shit November 1 for Samhain (to have seen them on that date would have made “November’s coming fire” all the more spine tingling!

    Let me be clear: the Misfits book was awesome. I realize that it’s blood from a stone where those characters are concerned; there’s a reason why the most substantive print narratives anout them before you were that chapter in American Hardcore and Eerie Von’s liner notes for box set. It’s just your observation of Marky’s book seemed ironic, didn’t mean to be a dick. And yeah that Lennon thing, I lay money it’s an urban legend, but nothing wrong in perpetuating it I guess, I know Bobby and Jerry (and Glenn?) stand by it.

    Your story of discovering the Misfits was another piece of great writing. So fucking relatable.

  6. jamesgreenejr says :

    I appreciate your clarification, Keith. Thank you. I’m especially glad you like the prologue or front end of the book. I was very hesitant about writing a “how I got into the Misfits” bit but figured it was required. Good to know it’s received well (at least by you). Sorry you missed Mark at the Gramm, maybe next time.

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