Monday, January 02, 2006


End of the Century
2003, USA
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.

It's a statement against pop convention, media hype, and heterosexuality.

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.


Anonymous broadzilla said...

Plus it features Debbie Harry and Joe Strummer, making it entirely Too Cool For (Rock 'n Roll High) School. I felt rather sorry for Tommy Ramone at the end of it, actually - it must have been tough being the lone sensible bloke, caught as he was between a little fascist, a wan obsessive-compulsive and a drug-addled former rent boy.

And because I can't post a comment without making it all about me: I first learnt to play the bass to Ramones' records, but gave up when I realised I'd never match Dee Dee's high standards. Or, possibly, when everyone else realised that me being the only girl in a bedroom screamo (read: god-awful) band was not enough of a novelty to distract from the fact that I have no musical ability whatsoever.

6:19 a.m.  
Blogger Jerk Of All Trades 2.0 said...

I remember seeing an interview of Johnny Rotten talking about how the Sex Pistols started "Punk" and how everytime they did anything it was copied and how the Pistols changed the world. He said something like "..But I don't know why they (the punks) started wearing leather jackets, none of us wore those stupid things."

The new Ramones boxed set is awesome.

8:06 a.m.  
Blogger Ash Karreau said...

The Sex Pistols started nothing, not even boy bands, which is what they were.

Sadly, the album I learned to play guitar to was Hole's Live Through This. That's the first time I ever told anybody that. It feels to good to get it off my chest.

9:19 a.m.  
Anonymous broadzilla said...

Jerk, that Weird Tales of The Ramones looks outstanding. If it didn't cost like, a month's salary and a small herd of cows to have it shipped over here, I'd order it tomorrow. I hate box sets.

Ash, if you want to delete the bit about Live Through This, we'll pretend we didn't see anything.

9:46 a.m.  
Blogger Ash Karreau said...

No, it's OK. It feels good to have that out there, like a great big talentless drug-addled harpy weight off my back.

8:58 a.m.  
Blogger Jerk Of All Trades 2.0 said...

Broadzilla, you've GOT to get this one! It's the only boxed set I own, and will ever own. I had to have

Yeah, anyway....Ash I promise I won't tell anybody. They wouldn't believe me anyway.

9:46 a.m.  

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