DAMONE ON THE RAMONES BEING BOOED OFF STAGE, 1979

Screenshot 2020-04-11 at 09.46.02I recalled Khun Sa’s attempts to console me regarding my brothers by again referring to The System of Correlation of Man and His Environment, reminding me that names are forgotten as fast as all things fade; that all songs become obsolete the moment they are written; that founders of religions and ideologies, generals, kings, scientists, and rock and roll bands called the Ramones all must obey the universal law of transience; that when they die, an echo will remain of their existence, but in Ten Thousand Years the echo will weaken, and in One Hundred Thousand Years it will die completely; and what an insignificant fraction of time One Hundred Thousand Years is! And that after all, all of these are relative truths.

Relative truths indeed. My brothers played in front of nearly 50,000 people that year at the Canadian World Music Festival. They had “opened” for a world they had already swept into the dustbin of history: Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, Johnny Winter, Nazareth. But the mob of followers, of finger-pointing dolts, conformists, cowards—were unaware of their own myopia and irrelevance; when confronted with the end of sound, the tone of life and the space-time continuum, the end of correlation—they rejected the exposure. They threw bottles, cans, sandwiches. They booed, hissed. Johnny took off his guitar and walked to the front of the stage.

In the photograph he is wearing a yellow cut-off t-shirt. Both hands raised, middle fingers up, flipping off the 50,000-strong audience. This was Beethoven scratching out Napoleon’s name from the Eroica dedication, Velikovsky standing alone against armies of “scholarly” detractors, this was Karl Richter’s message to cowardly conformists that people make rules because they have no lives. As for the Ramones, people are entitled to their own opinion, but they’re also entitled to their own facts, and in the case of my brothers, their echo would never fade or die, however I might wish it were otherwise. Vikings torch a ship. It burns on a dark sea.

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