A Ramones story

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For the record, this is a fictionalized account of an actual event that took place in my imagination.
 
Ken just asked me: “Hey Ace, do you have any Ramones stories??”

Hell yeah. It was 1975 and I was hanging out at CBGBs with John and Legs. When Dee Dee Ramone (or maybe it was Johnny Ramone — it was hard to tell them apart, they all looked the same with the hair and black leather jackets) (I know it wasn’t the drummer, he was relatively quiet and well-behaved) got in my face and accused me of stealing his stash of heroin (in truth I had merely borrowed it and planned to return it in full at a later date).

Long story short Dee Dee Ramone beat the living shit out of me. Wiped the beer-soaked floor of CBGBs with my face. 

But as I picked my battered and beaten and soggy body off the floor and staggered towards the exit I had an epiphany that made the horrible experience worth it’s while. For at that moment I made a solemn vow to myself to never again listen to Punk Rock music. And spent the remaining days of my life happily listening to New Wave bands like the Cars and Flock of Seagulls.

True story! . . . Sort of.

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Some nights are better than others

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Pretty miserable night last night. On my hands and knees in the bushes puking my guts out all night long in the rain and cold. Some nights are better than others. 

Before I even started drinking last night I felt this burning in my guts. Like heart-burn or something. I don’t know if it’s my drinking catching up to me. Or something I ate (had Mexican for dinner with lotsa’ hot sauce — something I usually don’t eat).A I wisely decided to stop drinking at beer 5 and trudged in the rain to this secluded doorway I’ve been crashing at for years. That’s when things went from bad to worse. As soon as I laid down I felt nauseous and knew I was going to puke at some point. So all I could do is lay there and wait for the puke to come up at its own sweet time. Finally I can tell it’s coming. So I stagger out of my blankets and crawl on all fours to the bushes. Wretch wretch wretch of the dry heaves until it finally surges out in a wretched spew.

But usually right after I puke I usually feel better. You got the poison out of your system and you immediately feel that warm glow of returning health. But not tonight. Even after puking I still felt nauseous. That’s when I knew I was in trouble and had some weird bug. I rolled over on my side and slept fitfully for about an hour. Until I had to get up and repeat the whole on-my-hands-and-knees-puking scenario again. And it went on like that all night long. Getting up every hour to puke again. And weirdly in between puking I would have the same weird recurring dream all night long.

This next part might be filed under More Than You Need To Know. So if you’re squeamish you might wanna skip this part.

I vividly remember looking at my cellphone at one point and seeing it was 2:30 am and realizing it was going to be a LONG night before I got myself out of this jam. Crawled to the bushes for the third time to puke and shit my pants in the process. Couldn’t be helped. Something about the thermodynamics of the human metabolism and the natural laws of action-and-reaction. The propulsion coming out of both ends. It’s pure science.

So now I’m really in a mess. And wouldn’t you know it?? It’s the ONE time I didn’t have any paper towels on me. So how was I going to clean up this fucking mess.

But what saved my ass (literally). I just happened to have a copy of a newsprint magazine in my backpack (thanks RECORD COLLECTOR magazine!!). And that saved the day.

I went through the whole process at least two more times during the course of the night. Puking and sharting. The crucial thing was trying to avoid getting any shit on my pants. Because then I’d have to walk around smelling like shit all day. So that was the real battle (my life really is a saga). Fortunately I was wearing two layers of pants so the second pair was insulated from the mess.reactions ·

Just as it was starting to get light around 6am I got up and puked one last time for old time’s sake. As I was on my hands and knees wretching in the bushes, as a light rain fell down on me, I remember vivividly speculating that perhaps I’d been cursed by the gods for sins accrued in past lifetimes to have ended up in such a lowly position (I had to allow myself one brief indulgence in self-pity — generally in these type of situations I try to feel as little as possible — just turn myself into a machine and just keep trudging in the general direction of the light at the end of the tunnel.

I quickly packed up my camping stuff, cleaned up the mess, and rushed off to the basement bathroom at Barrows Hall that had just opened up. Fortunately at that hour it was deserted. So I was able to clean up in peace. And got everything taken care of right before, right on cue, another person came into the restroom. Another homeless guy as it was. And he paid me no mind. So I got my ass out of there and lived happily ever after. The End.

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Julia Vinograd RIP

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Julia Vinograd defined Telegraph Avenue in a way. As the co-publisher of the Telegraph Avenue Street Calendar for 15 years, I made sure there were three people who’s photos were in every issue:  Hate Man, B.N. Duncan, and Julia Vinograd. For they were icons of Telegraph. Walking, talking embodiments of the scene, along with the Caffe Med, Sather Gate, and the Campanile Tower. Tourist attractions unto themselves.

Julia Vinograd came of age during the ’60s hippie counterculture. And that, too, defined her. For she embodied some of the best qualities of that, too. Light-hearted, whimsical, off-beat, experimental, clever, thoughtful, insightful, “Weird But Proud,” as the button on her hat always proclaimed. And she always seemed to proclaim this unspoken message. “We the Sixties Generation will prevail. Not because of our ideology, or rioting in the streets, or proselytizing. But simple because we know a better way. And the world will eventually catch up with us.”

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(photo by Tom Dalzell)

For some reason it seemed really important at the time that we get that weather vane from the top of Howard Johnson’s

 

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Makin’ the scene at Ho-Jo’s.

I was a pretty well-behaved young boy most of the time growing up. Until I hit around age 16, And then I started to get a little wild. . . I never really did anything seriously criminal that got me into real trouble. But I did my fair share of stupid stuff. Stupid juvenile pranks mostly . . 

Like I remember one night well after midnight, me and my friends climbed up on top of the roof of the local Howard Johnson’s restaurant and tried to climb up the steeple in the hopes of stealing this really cool weather vane that they had on the top of the steeple. We weren’t able to get the weather vane off, and fortunately we didn’t break our fool necks in the process. As you can see from the photo, it’s a pretty steep climb . . But that was the kind of stuff I used to do.

The other thing I remember about Howard Johnson’s — or Ho Jo’s as we called it. Like I said, I was pretty straight and normal all the way up to age 16. Pretty much followed the program and did what I was told. Up until that point it was like I had been standing on a conveyer belt, just mindlessly moving forward wherever it took me.

But I distinctly remember the first moment I stepped off the conveyer belt. It was the beginning of my junior year of high school, and I was standing by my locker with my school books, about to go to my first period class. As usual. When one of my friends — who had just gotten his driver’s licence and had a car — sidled up to me and said:

“We’re all gonna’ cut class and go to Ho Jo’s for breakfast. You wanna come along?”

“Well sure,” I said.

We all snuck down the hallway, feeling very sneaky. Piled in my friend’s car in the school parking. And took off. Freedom! It was like making a jailbreak.

As we sat at the counter of Ho Jo’s drinking our coffee — something I had never drunk before — it felt truly surreal. Everyone else was back in class going along with the program. And here we were on the outside looking in.

It was like my first step to being an individual and an adult.

The first, but most likely not the last, soaking of the Rainy Season of 2018-2019

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The look Mini Scaredy gives me when she’s thinking : “Yeah yeah yeah, we know you had a bad night and you’re all wet. But lets not forget the important things. Like getting up and fixing us our breakfast.”

I almost blew it last night. The weather report said a light rain was coming in around 4am, and less than a tenth-of-an-inch of rain. I could have played it safe and slept in a nice, dry doorway. But I thought I’d take a chance and sleep at my campsite. I have a light tarp about the size of a beach towel. And I figured that would be enough to keep my blankets dry.

Around 4am the rain comes in right on schedule. A light soothing patter on top of my tarp at first. But after an hour it kept pattering. And louder and louder. The “light rain” turned into actual rain. I’m under my tarp shouting at the rain “STOP STOP STOP!!” But the rain never listens to me. It keeps drumming down relentlessly. Puddles of water are starting to accumulate on my cardboard. My clothes and my blankets are starting to get seriously wet.

Just when it looked like I was doomed the rain finally started to lighten up around 6am. And completely stopped as the sun was just starting to come up.

I pulled myself out of the tarp to assess the damage. Both of my feral cats were sleeping peacefully on top of my tarp. . . I always wondered how they handled the rain. I guess they’re equipped to deal easily with a relatively light storm like this. The surface of their fur was a little wet and matted. But I guess the water doesn’t penetrate much beyond the surface. Nature endowed them with their own stylin’ raincoats.