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for March 28, 2002

Groucho Marx Was Right
by Stiffy Biceptz

Last Wednesday I watched the Rock and Roll Hall of fame induction ceremonies on VH1. I had never bothered to watch in previous years, and it became clear to me that evening that my judgement had been good, in not watching. I was immediately reminded of a quote from Groucho Marx that went something like, "I'd never join a club that would have me as a member."

The only reason I wanted to watch was for the Ramones, a band whose importance is only now really beginning to be realized. Although I was excited to see Johnny and Dee Dee, it just seemed so wrong that Joey wasn't there. Then I realized that it just wasn't right for the RAMONES to be there at all. I loved the fact that Johnny and Dee Dee had absolutely nothing to say, except to thank Hilly Kristal, the owner of CBGB's who gave them a chance. Then, with an opportunity to play, they didn't, instead letting Green Day cover a few. Can you think of any other band not playing their own songs for their own induction? That was the only time the crowd seemed to actually have fun. Fun, hmmm...

The Ramones were the definition of alternative. They were the alternative to everything in pop music. Their songs were fast, loud, simple and short in an era of ballads, epics, and 10 minute solos. They single-handedly spawned punk and its mutations, new wave and everything else within the alternative genre. They were totally organic, completely independent, and absolutely original. Ultimately, the highest honor they achieved was that THEY NEVER MADE IT, and they never cared. They never made much money, never became true popstars, never became assimilated and eventually homogenized and sterilized. They never changed as people. Heck, Johnny looks exactly like he did 25 years ago, although I suspect hair dye might be involved to some degree.

The Rock and Roll Hall of fame is all about acceptance, fame and fortune. The Ramones likely wouldn't have minded some, but THEY SIMPLY NEVER CARED, which made them different then all the rest. Their true reward has been the alternative's answer to fame and fortune: respect.

©2002 Stiffy Biceptz

All material ©2001-2014 Sean Carolan, except as noted.


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