Jim Fields / Michael Gramaglia
I hate music. This will come as no surprise to those who have lived with or near me, as I am continually waging a war on music and social graces through the endless looping of Xasthur records, but some still find it strange that I can live a full life without ever once inadvertently humming the vocal line to Bohemian Rhapsody or recognizing a Yellowcard song. I’m not sure I understand it myself. Perhaps it has something to do with spending the last five years living a city that has made its goal for the twenty-first century to be even more annoying that Seattle in the 1990s. Some would welcome the chance to be a part of a spontaneous growth of musical culture, whereas I’m irritated by a local music scene that values talent less than being able to remain convincingly aloof in Spin magazine.
The Ramones, however, are different. There’s a certain innocent fun to be found in listening to the Ramones, like a grade 7 dance, except instead of bouncing arhythmically to Jump Around by House of Pain, you’re nodding your head to a three minute Stormtrooper lullaby based around a 50s doo-woop chord progression. I was a little worried that End of the Century would strip away some of the mystique of the Ramones, but then I realized that there’s precious little mystique for four glue-head mutants from New York to lose, and one more documentary revolving around their massive and unrewarded impact on rock music probably wouldn’t hurt. The film shows the Ramones exactly as you expect them to be: mildly brain-damaged, unrepentant, and, in the case of Joey, hideously deformed. The man looks like the Elephant Man, and I’m not scared enough by girls in Rocket To Russia baby-tees to keep that to myself. There’s nothing particularly new to learn here. Dee Dee is incomprehensible, the drummers didn’t matter, and Johnny seems to be quite mean, plus he looks like a fat Barbara Streisand towards the end of the film. There’s some tragedy and sadness in the story of their career, and the internal stresses that would later tear them apart, but mostly there’s some really great music, mainly in the form of a snippet from Dee Dee Ramone’s rap record. The film is inconsequential, but fun nonetheless. And, like a grade 7 dance and the story of the Ramones, you wish it would never end.