Rock Rock Rock Rock Rock and Roll High School
I usually post pictures of my garden, or food pictures and recipes that I’m working on. Today I’m going to tell a story from my past. I’ll try to tell this as best as I can remember it. I sometimes wish I had cameras in my eyeballs to record my life so I could play it back and see all the details, because there are a lot of details.
I saw the Ramones at a place called Old Chicago, an indoor amusement park on the far southwest side of Chicago in 1979. I was 16. I went with my friends, The Perez-pelaez girls; Anna 17 1/2, Rosie 16, and their little sister Alicia 13. Alicia had cerebral palsy and drove an electric wheelchair called an Amigo. Their father was a doctor and their whole family was brilliant and funny. Dr. & Mrs. P. let Anna drive the family van to take us to the concert. We were usually happy just to be out, but on this night, with a car, no parents, and going to see the Rock & Roll, it was already so much fun. The tickets were general seating but the Andy Frain ushered us right to the front row. I think he even nudged a few people aside. We were excited for V.I.P. treatment, none of us expected it at a punk rock show.
The show was amazing good old head banging punk rock the way god intended. It was enormously loud, everybody was jumping up and down and Pogo-ing like crazy. The version of the Ramones we saw didn’t include Tommy, who passed away last week. The band we saw included Joey, Johnnie, Dee Dee and Marky, who’d joined as drummer the previous year, if I’m not mistaken. The show sounded exactly like the records my sister Kris introduced me to and I loved it. My Sis is friends with a woman named Mary Alice, who was dating Joey Ramone at the time. They played all of my favorite songs, and after 4 or 5 encores, the Ramones jumped down from the stage and walked right in front of us. One of them said “hi” to Alicia as they walked past. They went out through a side stage door. Alicia was smiling from ear to ear and said that she couldn’t believe he just said hi to her. The show was over, but we’d had so much fun that we didn’t want to leave. We weren’t going anywhere.
A few seconds later an Andy Frain came up to us and said because of the crowd, it would be easier to get outside if we went through the stage door, the same door we just watched the Ramones walk through. He said to go out the door, turn right, and follow the exit signs. We were all like, ok! We passed a security guard, went through the stage door, and ended up in this huge, empty concrete hallway. The ceilings were really high because this was an indoor amusement park, with roller coasters and everything. We were in the back hallways of this place, a massive concrete and steel structure. Nobody was around and we didn’t have anywhere we had to be, so we started exploring. We went left instead of right. We were singing and jumping around and turning cartwheels. The echo was amazing. I remember joking that ‘we refused to leave this building until we meet the Ramones.’ So, almost right on cue, up walks Marky Ramone with his girlfriend. He went over to Alicia and thanked her sincerely for coming out to the show. He was so kind. She was beaming. We all thanked him for a great show, and told him how much fun it was and how great it was to meet him. Then he says, “Do you want to meet the rest of the guys?” We were like, let’s think for a minute, of course we do! He walked us down the hall, and into the green room where the rest of the Ramones were hanging out and blowing off steam after their show. When we came in, they looked surprised, but then they were great, and were all over Alicia. They all thanked her for taking the time and trouble to come out to their show. She said, “I can’t believe you’re thanking me!” They were so nice that it was crazy. They were joking around and having fun. I think only one of them was drinking beer. They asked us how old we were, and when we told them, they looked at each other and then decided, sorry, you can’t have any beer or we’ll get in trouble. One of them said they’d be in big enough trouble if anybody found out young girls were in their green room. Their punk rock girlfriends / Groupie Girls were not happy at all. They gave us a zillion dirty looks, probably because we were not shy a bit, and ready to jump right in on the conversation. At one point Dee Dee Ramone gently lifted Alicia out of her amigo cart and carefully placed her on the couch and rode her electric wheelchair all over the green room. She was so excited and just laughing and laughing. It was hilarious, he was such a clown and so nice. We left pretty soon after that because I think the sisters promised to get Alicia home at a decent hour or something. It was one of the most fun nights I’ve ever had in my life.
The moral of the story is always go left when they tell you to go right, so you can hang out in the Green Room with the Ramones.