Reviews & suggestions for punk rock fans.

Dee Dee Ramone’s Lobotomy – Book Suggestion

Dive into Madness with Dee Dee Ramone

Hard to walk away from Dee Dee Ramone’s Lobotomy: Surviving the Ramones without a need to detox due to the mayhem, mystery, and madness. From living in the Chelsea Hotel to causing mischief with some of the best in the New York City and London punk rock scene, the stories found within its pages can easily be in a best-selling novel by some fiction writer. The tales will keep you turning the pages, the understanding of what it means to punk, as written by one of its legends, will remain with you forever.

Dee Dee Ramone‘s, born Douglas Glenn Colvin, life starts in Germany. Neither of his parents were role models for him, and any time he utters “father” or “dad” the resentment of anger and hatred is felt. Eventually, he jumps the pond with dear old Mom and lands in New York. Once in the city, you will find small moments, like letting his dog piss in the streets while he looked out for cops, which should remind you of his novel Chelsea Horror Hotel, a fantastic read if you haven’t had the chance. Overall, I mention this because his writing is incredible, in my opinion. Dee Dee is considered one of the best songwriters for punk rock, and his craft certainly translates well to books.

Sooner or later, he hits the road as a teenage runaway hitchhiking to the west coast. He finds himself in a vehicle whose owners seem up-to-no-good, to say the least. To quote Dee Dee, “They were playing bad things in the car, driving real slow up and down the highway. They had a flexible saw, and they were planning to decapitate the next person they met.” This horrific scenery describing various memories are throughout the book. It makes you wonder if is he serious or not. The whole “decapitation” thing, I mean. I tried to take several moments like this with a grain of salt. Did he hitchhike to the west coast – yes. Did one ride want to decapitate someone, maybe. I dunno. However, no matter what city, schoolyard, or venue Dee Dee finds himself in, he seems to draw himself to misfits and degenerates. His wandering mind going from one terrible situation to the next making it easy for him to understand why he would find Tommy, Joey, and Johnny, a group of rebels in their own right.

The chapters of New York’s glitter scene and the founding of the Ramones are where many punk rock fans will find the juice of the story. For this novel is, of course, a story about surviving the Ramones. Dope coping and drug-induced nightmares fill the spaces in between historic moments like the first night the Ramones played CBGB’s and the writing of classic songs like “Chinese Rocks.” The entire time as Dee Dee unveils the first New York scene, he reveals bits of wisdom of what it means to be punk. Moments like this:

People who join a band like the Ramones don’t come from stable backgrounds, because its not that civilized an art form. Punk rock comes from angry kids who feel like being creative.

Dee Dee Ramone’s Lobotomy: Surviving the Ramones

Dee Dee Ramone‘s drug consumption would eventually catch up to him despite his self-awareness. He would get arrested, head into a psychiatric ward, and as most know – leave the “happy family” of the Ramones. Within this part of the book revealing the rise (one could say) and fall of his time with the Ramones, you feel sympathy for Dee Dee and understand he is a human being doing his best to learn from his mistakes. It’s easy to relate. Maybe not so much in the sense that you have asked a reporter if they have any dope (like Dee Dee has), but the self-destructive nature we have all seen in ourselves when we’re eager to get off a toxic roller coaster ride. And that’s where the true genius of this book lies, in Dee Dee Ramone’s ability to illustrate his life and make it relatable to any of us who have felt tormented by the outside world.

Fighting conformism, searching for community, being yourself, and music are themes in each chapter, page, and sentence of Dee Dee Ramone’s Lobotomy: Surviving the Ramones. The man was a punk, true and true. If I can be completely transparent for a moment, reading his words gave me comfort during one of the worst times in my life. It allowed me to realize I wasn’t alone in, well, feeling alone. I believe we all succumb to this feeling of not being understood. What I find most interesting is Dee Dee felt alienated his entire life, although he would help form a genre that offers a home to anyone who feels ostracized. Ironic, tragic, not sure the right word. Maybe that’s just the curse of being a punk.

RIP, Dee Dee.

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