On the Queens Museum’s Ramones Exhibition

I hated the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It was too cluttered. There were speakers everywhere blasting disjoint sounds that prohibited me from fully enjoying and engaging with whatever I was standing in front of at the time. Plus, the space seemed too confined.

I visited a few months ago (in the days before the Hall’s class of 2016 was to be inducted, actually) and felt like curators were in a race with themselves to cram as much crap in there as possible.

Nothing grabbed me.

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A little rough around the edges, but with a heart of gold. Just like punk. All photos by me.

But I loved the Queens Museum‘s exhibition on the Ramones, Hey! Ho! Let’s Go: Ramones and the Birth of Punk. Much like their music, the show was short and to the point. Encompassing four medium-ish galleries, artifacts were everywhere — but not oppressively so — and there was room to move around the space.

It was small, yet spacious, and I did not feel like curators were trying to get in as much stuff as possible for the sake of sating die-hards and their own fandom.

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It was cute watching old punks try to wrangle their toddlers for a picture under the seal.

What I liked the best was how much Queens was in it. I know, yeah, duh. Queens Museum. The band’s development. In Queens.

Queens.

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I want a print of this map. It wasn’t on sale in the gift shop : (

It’d be a shocker if it didn’t rep the boro so much.

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I didn’t go to Forest Hills. I went to a dump in Flushing.

Let me enjoy my boro’s moment.

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My kids’ old pediatrician had an office right around the corner!

But it’s not just Queens. A few Manhattan haunts are in there, too.

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Just a little old club* that used to be in the East Village.
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Just a little old flophouse for transients and ne’er-do-wells on west 23rd*. My grad school was not far from here.
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The flop house’s basement.

Then there’s the Ramones itself: lyrics, riders, gig posters, merch, and equipment are on display.

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And then there are the Ramones themselves. The personalities of each member — Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee, and Tommy — are discussed and displayed. Curators included art, photos, and texts from the guys that reflect the impact they had on the band, and the impact the band had on them.

My favorite piece is a mixed-media work by Joey Ramone. It reminded me of the artwork that I’d see (and contribute to) on desks back in high school. Someone would draw something. Then the next person sitting at that desk the following period would draw something. Then I’d add my piece. It would keep going until the custodians cleaned it all off, only to start again a few bored class periods later.

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Couldn’t get a better pic of the whole thing because of the reflection of a massive mural of linguistic variation in Queens in the opposite gallery. 

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This sieg heiling Hitler singing Peter Allen’s “I Go to Rio” reminds me of Mel Brooks’ “Hitler on ice” skit from History of the World: Part I. And now I’m sad he never made that movie.

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I laughed out loud at “Where’s David Byrne”

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Trek into Flushing Meadows Park to see the Ramones exhibition before it all goes back in storage in August!

*This is sarcasm. Lots of it. If you take such descriptions seriously and have no clue what I’m talking about… I… I just…. I have no idea what to do with you.

Go to the library, hit up Strand, go on an Amazon binge, and read the books on this list.

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