Damone On the 1977 New York Blackout

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Although I’m sure the process had been going on for many years, since before I was marooned or longer, ’77 was the year I became aware of the escalating noise and silence. On the one hand there was fog pouring from manholes, apocalyptic streets, burnt out buildings. On the other hand there was color. Every train car and building was splashed with madness and life: proclamations, eulogies, tributes to beauty, love, rebellion, sex. Bright scrawls even celebrated the city’s abandonment and death.

I knew that these changes signaled a twist in time, a cosmic distortion that I had ignored, immersed as I was in my own affairs. But as I walked across time’s icy landscape, I had time to think—no amount of potion could kill one hundred percent of the electricity. It occurred to me that several long-traveling dynamics were converging like rural doctors at a convention in the capital, and the events associated with my family were a major and integral part of this convergence. Events later in the year further confirmed this, but even on January 1, the pieces were lining up: creation, treachery, exile, return.

Clearly some type of Velikovskian whirlpool had been set in motion around 1960, and its spinning had reached maximum velocity by 1977. Next, it would change forms and we’d turn a cosmic page under the auspices of this new mysterious structure. On a quantum level, my life was a miniature rendering or timeline where each event was predicted and described—I felt an absolute unity with the cosmos that year, which helped me to accept my total desecration. Perhaps this cosmic ship-in-the-bottle which I carry in my genetic code to this day was placed there so that I might be the standard bearer of truth, the white-robed bearer of stone tablets vindicating Velikovsky, because my story, while it seeks my own vindication, also proves catastrophism, as each of my hopes can be looked at as a civilization stomped out swiftly rather than by gentle Darwinian breezes blowing across the eons. Surely beneath each battering one can find the corollary cosmic event, and directly between the two lay the Earthly manifestation, or point of conflict. For example, one might begin their analysis with just such a chain: the ejaculation evaporating from my belly in the sea breeze—hearing Summer Song from upstairs for the first time—the Kennedy assassinations. And so on…I searched the cosmos for a sign. The cosmos: a mathematical system, a machine of facts. If I could discern the formula, I’d get the answers.

Indeed: on May 30th, Paul Desmond leapt into the phlogiston. It was Desmond that blew the smoky sax over Brubeck’s piano in Summer Song, his cool reed-work so magically transcribed by František’s brilliant fingers. But what of it? I had my fact, but I didn’t know how to interpret it. I couldn’t even proffer a theory.

The lack of a theory, I believe, was largely because of the compromised agility of my mind at that time, or if not compromised, redirected. My life was becoming an inwardly focused affair—something of little consequence such as grooming an unkempt hemorrhoid was of paramount importance, whereas vengeance and money-lust seemed increasingly vain. It was summer. The liquor fell like rain. The spaces under the boardwalk were dry, the library felt like a second home, the security guards were jocular and worthless. The dunes offered sweet respite on warm nights, of which there were many that year.

Upon waking after one of them I wandered into a city that proved the Velikovskian cycle was complete: forces had converged, energy had been exchanged and transmuted, structures had imploded. Everything had been reborn as something entirely different. On that day, the new world had not yet revealed its face, but the world we had known had ended.

The sidewalks were covered with broken glass and garbage. Burnt out cars lined the streets. Buildings smoldered and smoked. People carried televisions and stereos in their arms. Everyone was smiling except for me. Perhaps for them, it was a new beginning. For me it was the long-predicted bottom.

Need I go into detail about the papers and rags, the vents, the shrubs, the nightsticks, the Wild Irish Rose, the intake forms, the bedbugs, the fights, the layers of dried urine? It was all just background noise as far as I was concerned. And small price to pay to be gazing at the giant blue skies, listening to the crashing waves, soaring on the sweet wings of booze. Without contradiction, I was happy to be miserable. Something was making it work.

—from Damone Ramone: A Rock and Roll Betrayal:https://www.amazon.com/Damone-Ramone-Rock-Roll-Betrayal/dp/1523945397

—photo of Coney Island by Frank Lord







2 thoughts on “Damone On the 1977 New York Blackout

  1. You know I think the Ramones have received their comeuppance in robbing you, for since they debuted a lot of other bands have stolen from them. Musically I mean. There sound was reproduced by the children their music spawned and as new musicians come and go, we all can here the influence of the Ramones.
    I do hope your book achieves what you desire from the experience and I hope from the sobriety you learn that life is just beginning.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. A brilliant work of fiction, musical exegesis, Sartrean existential dread and the struggle for liberation, a Socratic interrogation of authority written with stunning beauty in the European belles lettres tradition, Frank Lord has forged the transgressive vision of Kathy Acker and Jean Genet, who also inhabited invented identities in underworld journies, together with the ars poetica of Umberto Eco and Anais Nin. More than the finest interior history of punk rock, Damone Ramone a rock and roll history is a superb novel which merits our time to read.

    Liked by 1 person

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