The Crawling Ear column: walking over Joey Ramone’s grave

James goes to pay his respects to Joey Ramone. Sadly, Joey himself didn't make an appearance.

I visited Joey Ramone’s grave yesterday. It’s over in Lyndhurst, NJ, a scant twenty-eight minutes from where I currently sit – that’s only by dirigible or hovercraft, though. By car, it takes two hours, because Mapquest insists on taking you there via Lower Manhattan and traffic in that area is, as you can imagine, fuckin’ retarded. Yes, I was too lazy to research alternate routes. Where did I have to be anyway? My real job? They don’t care if I show up. Ever since they hired that chimp, the drive-thru pretty much runs itself.

This was the first time I’d made the trek out to Jojo’s final resting place. I had this daydream in my head before I got there that I’d kneel down and spill out all my troubles to Joey. Then, a flash pot would go off a few feet away and there he’d be, my childhood hero, in all his spindly, awkward, blue ghostly glory.

“Don’ worry,” he’d say to me in his patented mushy mumble. “Everything’s gunna work out. An’ if it doesn’t, you’ll still be alright, ya know?”

“Joey,” I’d respond with a gleam in my eye. “Please come back to life. Please come back and hang out with me while I get my life in order. We’ll have so much fun playing video games and drinking Dr. Pepper and watching ‘Night Court’ reruns…don’t go back to Heaven, please!”

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“Ahm sorry, Jay Gee Tew, but I must go now. Remembah, all Richie wanted wuz summah dat t-shirt money…T-SHIRT MONEY!!”

Another flash pot would explode, and he’d be gone. Somehow, however, I would be completely fulfilled by this brief experience.

Nothing like that actually happened (probably because my friends John and Dave were with me; hey, Obi-Wan never appeared to Luke while anyone else was around, right?). I reached Joey’s headstone and immediately felt weird. I mean, here I was, basically standing on top of Joey Ramone’s body. I kept shifting around because I felt like I was being disrespectful. There were a number of stuffed bunnies surrounding the grave. I guess Joey was into rabbits.

Words failed me as I stared at this big gray slab with the name Jeffrey Hyman chiseled into it, “Beloved Son and Brother, A.K.A. Joey Ramone, Rock & Roll Hall of Famer.” All that kept running through my head was “Man, Joey. Joey Ramone, right here in front of me. Dead. I wonder what he looks like down there.”

Eventually I did the thing with the rock you’re supposed to do at a Jewish grave and left the man once known as Jeff Starship behind. I have a feeling I’ll be going back there soon. It’s a very serene cemetery. Nice and quiet, good place to go to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Also, I might actually see Joey in a heated vision one day.

“Joey, what’s God like?”

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“Kinda like Don Rickles. A real bawl-bustah.”


James’s Crawling Ear will be back next Wednesday; in the meantime, you can read his last column here.