Dee Dee Ramone
I've been taking creative license in bending, twisting and widening the definition of clown to fit my Clash Clown narrative. But The Clash are not clowns.
The Ramones, on the other hand? Could they be clowns? I see it.
My favorite band, my Punk Mount Rushmore. Joey, Johnny, Tommy and Dee Dee were real people. Their music, personas, performances, looks and lore have built them up in my imagination into caricatures like four Shaggys bopping across the country in a beat-up Mystery Machine. Each one of them with their very odd and jagged edges. But with their powers combined, we have four furious, matching in 50's comic-book thug gear, thrashing, idiot savant pioneers.
Dee Dee was like the Shaggiest of the Shaggys. A dopey, bumbling bassist who was the secret powerhouse behind the band's best lyrics.
It was his birthday this week! I meant to write a post on his actual birthday, then some stuff came up. Then some other stuff came up yesterday. OK disregard this. None of this matters.
I have wanted to write about my love for Dee Dee and his work for two decades. I'm not going to cover it all today. But you better believe, in my eyes, Dee Dee Ramone is a Clash Clown.
Where do I even begin?
To me, The Ramones exemplify the clownish 'double sneak attack' I've written about.
Attack 1: These unassuming idiots tumble onstage at CBGB's arguing with each other, barely able to play their instruments until suddenly they come together and blow the roof off in a completely unmanageable, unpredictable sonic assault.
Attack 2: This loud, fast punk band, through years of an unbelievable, relentless touring and recording schedule, emerge victorious and legendary by peeling away layers and releasing disarming, poetic lyrics years after they were counted out. Beautiful moments bloom from this unassuming, unpretentious connection they built with their public.
It's a stretch, but I see it.
Here's the other thing I'll write about Dee Dee in greater detail sometime in the future. I love talking to anybody and everybody about his ill-advised, tragicomic exit from the Ramones when he pivoted into rap music. He assumed the persona Dee Dee King and released one of the least successful and personally influential albums ever.