Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Review Of A Book I Skimmed

Kim and I had to wait out a little kitty dental surgery today, so we ended up spending several hours in a bookstore. It's not often I reach for the book about the right-wing Yankee fan, but...with this guy we always make an exception. It was a new "autobiography" of Johnny Ramone. It was pretty short, so I basically read the whole thing. Of course, Johnny's been dead for eight years. But they've taken his own words and turned them into his life-story, from childhood to post-cancer treatments.

I figured I'd give you all some of the baseball highlights. (I suppose I should always be glad when my punk heroes are baseball fans, even if they go for the Yanks, as that's more relatable to me than somebody who doesn't give a shit about the NashPass.)

His dad was a "Brooklyn Dodgers fan, and a Yankee fan." Can't understand that one. And it's too bad dad's Dodger influence didn't win out. Oh well. Johnny says he remembers his first game. Ebbets Field. He said that a 17-year-old pitcher named Von McDaniel threw a 2-hit shutout against the Dodgers. He said he even got to talk to some of the players who played in that game later in life, and that they remembered it. I just looked it up--McDaniel did 2-hit the Dodgers in 1957, at age 18. However, it was in St. Louis. Johnny most likely went to the game 5 days earlier, when McDaniel came on in relief in a tie game at Ebbets Field, and pitched 4 one-hit innings to get the W over the Dodgers. He probably got that memory confused with McDaniel's even better performance less than a week later. I like that he says he always saved his baseball and concert ticket stubs. I do it too. I also save movie tickets. (Parts of Johnny's datebook are shown, too, complete with what concerts and movies he saw, and what albums he listened to, in his own handwriting, from the mid-late 70s.)

There were two Red Sox mentions that I found, neither one bashing us.

1. He said he was at a game at Fenway Park in 1990, and somebody asked him to sign an autograph, then another person, then another, until there was a line of people at his seat. He said this was different from when he went to games at Yankee Stadium, as everyone there just kind of knew him and didn't see it as a special thing to see him there.

2. After getting chemo, all of Johnny's hair fell out in clumps over a two-day period. He got a $4,000 wig, which he wore exactly once, as he didn't like the feeling of knowing people knew it wasn't his real hair. So what did he do with it? He gave it to Eddie Vedder, of course! The next night, Eddie was hanging out with Theo Epstein. He would leave a message with Johnny, saying how he and Theo got drunk and took turns wearing the wig. The pictures of Eddie and Theo in the wig, according to Johnny, were worth the four grand. (The pictures appear in the book! They, in turn, are worth the $24.99....)

Finally, a section at the end has a bunch of lists Johnny made. Favorite horror movies, best guitarists, favorite Republicans, etc. Two of them are best baseball players of both the 80s and 90s. Surprisingly, Don Mattingly didn't make his 80s list. In fact, unless you count Rickey Henderson and Roger Clemens, there isn't a Yankee to be found on either list.

As for the non-baseball stuff, if you're into the Ramones, punk rock, or tales of how a dude goes from regular guy to famous guy and life in a band, go and skim this the next time you have to wait out a vet appointment. It's a quick, fun book, with lots of behind-the-scenes pictures. More info here at the Johnny Ramone Army site.

Oh, and Danzig (the cat) emerged groggy but unscathed, with three less teeth. (Funny, I looked for a picture of Johnny with a cat to go with this post, but it looks like New York magazine beat me to it with their excerpt.)

And: the next Red Sox game counts!

Mom here:

From a publisher's standpoint, as well as a writer's (if he's alive), this is a great review because it makes you want to read the whole thing.

Glad to hear my grand-kitty no longer has to deal with his extra teeth. Get well, Danzig!

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Location: Rhode Island, United States