December 2nd, 2003


A nice way to remember Joey.

The corner of Bowery and Second Street in NYC is now known as Joey Ramone Place.

I met Joey Ramone back around '89, which was a big, big deal for me. I had been doing promotions at KSJS and The Ramones were doing a local gig at One Step Beyond. I was friends with Stan, the owner of OSB, and had arranged for a ton of tickets for KSJS for the Ramones' shows. Best news of all was when Stan called, letting us know that the band was dropping by the station later on that day for an interview!

I got ahold of the best local pizza place and arranged for a bunch of comp'ed pizzas to be on hand for the band's arrival... we waited, and waited, and said nice things about the pizza place, and played a ton of Ramones songs and waited -- for a radio deejay, doing a musical tribute to the Ramones was really an honor, because keeping up with 2-3 minute songs and still fitting in a smoke/piss/PSA break and cueing up the next song on vinyl was a matter of endurance.

And just as the pizza started to get cold, the band finally arrived, looking like gods and icons. Real life Joey Ramone close up and in the flesh. The pizza disappeared in short order.

I was relatively new to college radio at the time, and amongst those who had been around, a Ramones interview was kind of like a cool joke -- the band weren't usually great at interviews, but they were still revered anyway. Joey didn't hype himself or sell himself or try to be something that he wasn't, and yet the cool part was that he was kind and quiet and understated and even a bit shy and humble, perhaps... except when he laughed or joked or talked about music or performed, at which point his lips -- which kind of remind me in retrospect of two giant earthworms stretched across his face -- would part into the biggest, funniest smiley grimace imaginable, revealing a set of crooked teeth and a smile that would be sinister on anyone who was less sincere.

We got tickets to the show and followed them back to the club before showtime and got to hang out with them... and when the show started, we got to see Joey leaning forward on his microphone stand and doing what he did best... and yes, he was an icon, and I wish I wish I wish I could see him perform again. His performances were so alive to me, it's hard to imagine that kind of immediacy no longer exists.

He made us college radio geeks feel at home... like he was one of us and that no matter how iconic he was, we were all nerds and dweebs and still cool at the same time. As Stan said about The Ramones on his site... "it was like being a part of a very different, dysfunctional family." The cool thing was that their fans were treated like part of the family too.

Joey wasn't a rich rock star. He didn't spend all his time in a mansion or a limo. He didn't go to fancy restaurants. His albums didn't even sell all that well most of the time. What made him great, however, was that he was real and that he was utterly, totally, and still to this day quite unfortunately unique -- an amazingly improbable person who played his role in life well. It's nice to know that there's still room for a person like him in the heart of NYC. He would never have expected it, but it's nice to know that someone like Joey can be honored so highly in today's tamer version of New York..

I can only hope that in the future, some kid will stumble upon a datacard or chip or cube in a store somewhere and be able to see Joey "live" again, because live is what Joey was all about. He was really, really live.

The wrong person on the right side of an issue.

John Bucher, the lawyer for polygamist Tom Green, argued before the Utah Supreme Court today that Green's conviction on four counts of bigamy should be overturned based, in part, on the Supreme Court's Lawrence ruling decriminalizing gay sex, which said that what gay men and lesbians do in the privacy of their homes is not the business of government.

"It doesn't bother anyone, [and with] no compelling state interest in what you do in your own home with consenting adults, you should be allowed to do so," Bucher said.

In other words, he is forcing the Utah Supreme Court to show that there is a compelling state interest for outlawing bigamy.

Unfortunately, Green is exactly the wrong person you would want to use as the posterboy for polygamy -- he is currently facing a possible life sentence for sleeping with a 13-year-old "wife". Whether this behavior can be entirely seperated from the compelling state interests for outlawing bigamy is questionable.

So, will Green win the day? Will polygamists and bigamists be branded as potential child molesters? ...or will Utah find another, less controversial reason to uphold laws against bigamy? And if so, could it be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court? Could get interesting.

Ignore that giant sucking sound...

I know that economics isn't exactly an easy read for most people, but I'll try to make the premise of this post really simple. The "economic rebound" the U.S. is experiencing isn't sustainable, and the end result is likely to be some serious pain.

The economy is being kept afloat by deficit spending and the devaluation of the US dollar, which will buy us a little time to continue acting like happy little consumers, but that's not sustainable, because both exports and foriegn investment in the U.S. aren't keeping pace with U.S. money flowing overseas... and where the money flows, jobs go. The war in Iraq is just making this problem worse, and decreasing confidence in overseas investment in the U.S.

Meanwhile, Europe, which has seen the Euro climb sharply in value in comparison to the dollar, is already hinting towards efforts to prevent the Euro's sharp increase in value, fearing that further increases in the Euro will reduce European exports by making their goods less affordable, especially to people in the U.S. No telling how all this instability will play out, but it could get ugly and painful.

More of the niggling economic details are available here and here.