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Johnny Ramone Tribute At Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Sunday July 30th 2017

Fred Armisen, Billy Idol and Steve Jones


Every year, Linda Ramone presents a tribute to her late husband Johnny Ramone at Hollywood Forever cemetery, and I have been attending the event for a few years now, because it’s a fun event, a celebration of the life and music of one of the most iconic punk bands, the Ramones, and because, each year, it looks more and more like a family reunion. Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols and Shepard Fairey are always there, as they are close friends of Linda, and other celebrities, actors, directors show up as they are always screening a movie that has some connection with the Ramones.

Every year, Ramones fans are lining up to watch some cult movie projected on the huge white wall of the cemetery mausoleum, located at a few feet of Johnny’s resting place, and every one buy memorabilia, art, photographs celebrating fandom and consumerism among the dead. But the cool thing is that the tribute is a fundraising event for the Johnny Ramone Foundation, which provides funding for Dr. Argus, at the Center for Applied Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine at USC, one of the world’s leading cancer doctors.

This year was no exception, as I had a great time watching the cult movie, ‘Buffalo’ 66’, which apparently was Johnny Ramone’s favorite movie. It was presented by the always eccentric and controversial Vincent Gallo himself, since Johnny and Vincent were close friends. May be their right wing ideas – according to what you can read in interviews – were a connection, as I was not necessarily seeing these two together! He said he was surprised to be there because ‘Linda Ramone had never said anything nice about my work in my life’… but Gallo, who seems to always want to be controversial added: ‘She actually asked me to sing, which is even more bizarre.’ He did not sing live but showed us two very strange short movies before ‘Buffalo’ 66’, the first one was a ‘very patriotic one’ entitled ‘The United States Wins the World Cup’, and was just showing an American flag with Gallo singing ‘Star Spangled Banner’, and the second one, ‘Honey Bunny’, had a camera turning around women in underwears and once again Gallo singing. There was no further comments,

Before the movie, Moby told his favorite Ramones encounter story (he was not sure if he had seen Johnny or Joey?) and reiterated his love for our city of angels, then close friends Linda and Rosanna, introduced a few people together, and we were treated with a mini acoustic concert of punk classics with Fred Armisten, Steve Jones and Billy Idol. Yeah, where else can you see this? After a few sound problems, ‘We are not going to play any songs, we are just showing our guitars,’ joked Armisten, Fred and Steve finally played the Ramones’ ‘I Can’t Make it On Time’, the Sex Pistols’ Lonely Boy’ and they were joined by a very upbeat Billy Idol for Generation X’s ‘Ready Steady Go’, ‘Wild Youth’ and his own ‘Untouchables’. He got so taken away that he added ‘You can touch my balls tonight’ after ‘Untouchables’. What? Had he smoked something before coming?

There was a short photo tribute to Chris Cornell, whose tomb is a few feet away from Johnny’s in the cemetery, and soon Gallo introduced his movie.

If you have never seen Buffalo ‘66’, rent it or steal it, it’s probably okay with Gallo. But seriously, it’s a great movie, strange and filled with ambiguity and lots of humanity, it’s the story of the immature, egocentric no-empathy-for-anyone Billy Brown, who walks through life like a child abuse poster-boy (his parents are crazy fucked-up monsters), but he has this face, these eyes, and he basically can get away with murder: baby-Marilyn face Christina Ricci has immediately the hots for him even though he is rude, violent, kidnaps and threatens her. I am not sure how far Vincent Gallo is from Billy Brown, after all there’s a long list of people he has insulted and he acts in life like an arrogant jerk, but he is one of the few celebrities who has never apologized for anything or taken down the mask, if there is one. I don’t know either the specific reasons why ‘Buffalo’66’ was Johnny Ramone’s favorite movie, but it’s an excellent film, and may be Johnny was seeing something of him in it: Johnny, like Vincent, receives all the love (where are the Joey and Dee-Dee tributes?) and this, despite all the not-so-pleasant things we know about him.

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