We were in Tijuana for all of ten minutes and we had already been searched by the federales. After an interesting cab ride and asking many people for directions, we finally found the place. The place: Voodoo House, where Marky Ramone and “guests” were to be playing. I was optimistic after being talked into going, thinking this could be fun—a night of Ramones tunes—and who knows, maybe he’s got someone cool playing with him. I was already having fantasies that Leonard Graves Phillips from the Dickies or Handsome Dick Manitoba of The Dictators would come bursting out and pay one hell of a tribute to the greatest band ever.
I came to realize later that I would have been more satisfied to see my mom onstage doing her rendition of the “Hey Ho” song rather than the dipshits who were to be the Ramones for the night. After sitting through five Cro-Magnon-style Tijuana hardcore bands, each with an ex-con lead singer, singing machine gun Spanish while being backed by some godawful death metal instrumentalism (with the exception of the amusing ska band that played and Rat City Riot, who were great, actually), we were finally ready for what we paid a ridiculous but not shocking amount for. (The price was $20, which seems to be the going rate for over-the-hill punk rock sellouts. Now, granted, I would have paid $100 to see the actual Ramones at this venue, but that’s beside the point).
Three guys were hanging around the stage as if they were about to go on. I stood there and could only pray they were the roadies, but I was wrong. I watched in horror as stooge number one walked over and plugged in. The first thing I noticed about this guy was his big baggy MC Hammer-style cargo pants. I can think of nothing worse you could possibly wear on stage then these pants, which can easily be purchased at your local Wal-Mart if you, too, want to look like a dipshit. His guitar was a flying V, which is a rad guitar in my opinion, but for a Ramones cover act? To be honest, the greatest guitar in the world couldn’t save him from those ridiculous pants. This is our Johnny Ramone figure.
Next up is our bass player who, instead of looking like he just got done copping dope on 53rd and 3rd, looks like he just got done serving a venti vanilla frappuccino at your local Starbucks, with his flared pants and little black hipster shoes.
Still, center stage remained unoccupied. “Please,” I thought, “Let it be anyone: Joey’s brother, Joey’s mother, anybody!” Then walked out the cherry on top of this shit pie. The best way for me to describe this asshole would be to say that he looked like he would much rather be singing for Aerosmith than a Ramones cover band. He even had a huge metal Aerosmith logo on his jacket. Fucking Aerosmith! Barf!
Then Marky comes out to roars from the Tijuana kids. These kids love the Ramones—a little naïve, but still you had to appreciate it. Marky says into the mic, “We’re gonna play Ramones songs.” Then they proceed to butcher tune after tune with Marky doing drum fills that would have had Johnny beside himself. The lead singer was the antithesis of how anyone should sing a Ramones tune.
After four songs, the lights cut out momentarily (which they had for every band’s set), at which the band immediately stopped. After a few harsh words from the three douches, Marky decided to scurry out the back and the show was over. I was relieved to be put out of my misery and was quite honestly getting tired of yelling, “Fuck you, Steven Tyler!” at the lead singer in between songs the whole set anyway. The guitar player came back on stage, blaming the lighting guy. The owner of the club said, “This was the best crowd you’ve ever played for.” I gave him a nice loud “Fuck You,” wondering if he loves these kids so much then why ten minutes ago did he practically punch the lights out of two teenage girls for trying to dance on stage?
Marky was never seen again. He went into the van to hide like they did before they went on. He got paid. What does he care? We bailed out after Dave asked Marky for a drumstick and he said, “We need those.”
We got hassled at the border and had to give the federales everything we had ($22) and I was searched up against a police car—all for making a wrong turn! A perfect end. By the time we were on our way back to the USA, we were laughing our asses off, thinking the Ramones aren’t rolling in their graves; they’re laughing at what one of their drummers is doing for money these days.
So, to recap, Tijuana: I don’t need to go there for another ten years, if not ever again. And Marky Ramone: I’d rather watch Ritchie in a golf tournament.