One Punk’s Guide to the Ramones by Rev. Nørb
One Punk’s Guide to the Ramones originally appeared in Razorcake #103, released in April/May 2018.
Illustrations by Alex Barrett.
Original layout by Todd Taylor.
Zine design by Marcos Siref.
AGE 12: THE KIDS ARE LOSING THEIR MINDS
Punk rock was a puzzling thing to a twelve-year-old stuck in the Upper Midwest in 1977. The mainstream news media loved to report on its presumed excesses, while the college newspaper record reviewers reveled in it. But there was nowhere one could actually, y’know, hear it. The only snippets of punk rock anyone I knew had ever heard were incidental bits of live music in the background of news show footage. The verdict on the playground, gleaned from these brief exposures was that punk rock was “just a bunch of noise.” I was curious: What does “noise” sound like, exactly? No one could describe this “noise” with any manner of clarity; the best description I could come away with was that punk rock was a bunch of people who couldn’t play their instruments making noise and screaming. It sounded stupid, I guessed.
A mix of curiosity, shock, and alarm hit—the back seat of the family’s Buick LeSabre—when the DJ on WKAU-AM announced they’d be “right back with the new one from the Ramones!” To what manner of degenerate hell were these people intending on exposing us? Weren’t the Bee Gees and Barry Manilow torture enough? The commercials subsided, Tommy Ramone hit the snare drum thrice, and I was suddenly, unexpectedly, brained with the greatest thing I’d ever heard in my life, “Do You Wanna Dance?” by the Ramones. Three chords, full blast, over and over and over again, dropping down to this low chord between choruses and verses, just to let you know it was all gonna come back and bash you in the face again in a couple seconds for the whole manic roller coaster ride to start over again. The Ramones landed right in my nervous system, as if beamed directly into my reptilian forebrain. I had, for reasons no longer clear to me, been looking at my watch during the song, timing it. At the song’s conclusion, I yelled “That song was under two minutes long!” to no one in particular, in utter amazement. A minute-fifty-something! That was completely unheard of. Was that possible? Was it even legal? Ordered, precise, repetitious, and powerful, the Ramones were the absolute LEAST noise-like sound I’d heard in my life, a candy-coated nuclear detonation that melded the sweet bubblegum music of my pre-school years with my newly minted adolescent drives to rampage, fuck, and destroy. It was a fairly eventful 1:52...