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Damian: The time I met Johnny Ramone (R.I.P.)

September 14th, 2011

When I was in high school I had a teacher named Mr. Orlando who told us all he was friend’s with Johnny Ramone. Now, not to cast disparagement on teachers as a profession, because I have had more than my fair share of amazingly cool teachers in my life. One professor I had for film history in university lived in a house with the legendary Stains (not to be confused with the band featured in the movie the Stains), my art teacher in high school gave me tickets to see Noam Chomsky, and I had a math teacher whose brother was in Deja Voodoo, but this was very different. Mr. Orlando had amazing knowledge of film and I credit him with really exposing me to a lot of cool films but he certainly wasn’t someone that screamed “friend of a Ramone.”

So fast-forward to the spring of grade 12 and get together a school trip to LA. Mr Orlando again brought up his friendship with Johnny Ramone and said that it would be possible to meet up with him for a dinner one night. While I did have my reservations about how true this was, I wasn’t going to risk my chance of meeting Johnny Ramone. We all agreed that that would be great (though I was not alone in my doubts about the friendship).

Fast-forward a few months and we are sitting in the restaurant of the motel we were staying in waiting for Johnny Ramone to show up. He was about a half-hour late, so at this point my classmates and I had begun to resign ourselves to the fact that Mr. Orlando and Mr. Ramone probably were not friends. Then suddenly in walked Johnny. With the exception of his gold Elvis glasses he looked as if he just walked off the cover of Rocket To Russia. He walked over to Mr. Orlando and gave him a hug hello and sat down and introduced himself to us. We talked to him for a few hours and it was amazing. We talked about music, food, the Ramones, exploitation movies; I was beaming ear to ear the whole time.

By now, some of you who are more familiar with the Ramones are probably saying: “Wait, isn’t he a huge jerk?” or “Didn’t he steal Joey’s girlfriend?” or “Didn’t he vote for George Bush Jr.?” And yes, all of that may very well be true but I can only speak to the Johnny I met and talked to that night and he was cool as shit.

On September 15 2004, Johnny Ramone succumbed to cancer. I am so happy that I had the chance to meet him but more than that I’m grateful for the music he, Dee Dee and Joey left behind. This week saw the death of French house producer DJ Medhi and I’m sure for someone out there he was like that like the Ramones were to me. To that person and to the people that loved him I want to pass on condolences. Sometimes we forget that music gods are just flesh and bone like the rest of us.

Note: Tonight we’ll be playing a Ramones video in honour of Johnny, as well as new videos from Diamond Rings, SBTRKT, Monster Rally, Friendly Fires, Trash Talk, St. Vincent and Big Troubles. On top of that, we have an interview with chillwave survivor Toro y Moi.

Tune in to The Wedge tonight at 2:00 AM EST.


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