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JOHNNY RAMONE ANNUAL EVENT 2007-06-29 HOLLYWOOD, CA
June 29, 2007 I attended the 3rd Annual Johnny Ramone Tribute: Too Tough To Die Movie Premier at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. At first I was going to take my beautiful wife and lovely 18 month old daughter to the event. We decided not to expose my young daughter to the extreme heat of Los Angeles. She is too precious and could melt. Therefore just my dumb brother Javier and I went. It took us 3 1/2 hours to drive up the two hour trip from San Diego. It was really hot. We arrived to Hollywood Forever Cemetery at 4:15. We headed to the event area and saw Arturo hard at work. There were two tents, one for the T-shirts and one for the memorabilia.
Arturo informed me about the event a few months ago. I asked him in advance if he was interested in me taking photos of the event for his website. I greeted Arturo and asked him what he wanted us to do. He said to just take photos of everything that is going on....and so we started. My brother and I had two digital cameras. Our mission was to take photos of everything in sight. We ended up taking about 350 photos of the event.
Arturo brought so much great and amazing memorabilia to display. We got to see everything before it was put into the cases. We were fortunate to see up close all of the rare and one of a kind items like Johnny MTV Award, Johnny's guitar and tuner, Joey's and Johnny's stage worn shirts, Dee Dee's shirt that inspired the Ramones logo, backstage passes, old tickets, etc... I am a huge Ramones collector and I was in Ramones Paradise!!! If only I could own this stuff!!!
So here we go, we started to go to work right away with taking photos and helping with the set up. As the memorabilia was being set up, my brother and I were taking photos with some of the stuff. Then Arturo asked me to help clean and adjust one of the display cases. He also asked my brother to help him move a table. Arturo then asked me to help clean a photo display.
Arturo brought out Johnny's MTV Award...HELL YA! I wanted to hold that so bad, but I couldn't. I have held CJ's award a few years back and that was great.
There were a few rare signed shirts for the silent auction. I wanted the yellow Johnny shirt, it was a rare shirt made for Eddie Vedder's 40th Birthday Party
It was still early and there were not that many people there. The main area was not yet fully set up, but this is how it looked hours before the show. Soon it would be packed.
We were taking so many photos that we ran out of things to photographed. Then comes the one and only Road Cat himself...Monte Melnick. It was good to see him there. I met him in 1994 and 2004. A few days before the event I emailed Monte letting him know that I put a link on my website to his myspace and website just as he asked me to do for him. I told him that I would see him in Hollywood. At one point Monte had to move his rental car from to the VIP parking area. That was my chance to go up to him and get an autograph and photos. As he got out of his car, I went up to him and introduced myself as Gaston from Ramonesforever.com. He remembered me and I asked to take a photo with him and for him to sign my copy of his book along with some postcards. He was really nice to us. My brother took photos of me while Monte was signing.
Arturo was extremely busy during the show, but had time for interview. Here he is being interviewed by two people. Monte was also interviewed by one of them.
After more photos of the area and tents, I went up to Monte again. I asked him if he would mind making a quick commercial for my website. He said yes. I thought that it was so cool of him to agree to do it. So I got next to him as my brother video tape us. Monte said "Visit Ramones.com", "I whispered...it's Ramonesforever.com" we both started to laugh and that became a blooper! He then said it correctly.
I saw Arturo again and I asked him to make a commercial for my website. He of course said yes. He said it in Spanish and English to visit my website. Earlier in the day Arturo gave a Beat on Cancer shirt from the NYC event on October 8, 2004 for my wife. He has sent her free stuff in the past too. That was cool.
Monte Melnick had a table set up to sign his On the Road with The Ramones. He signed the book and took photos with people.
At one point the crew from the Starz Network arrived. They spoke and interviewed Arturo. Starz purchased the rights to the Too Tough To Die movie. After they interviewed Arturo, I introduced myself to Scott. He was the producer of the DVD. They were there to shoot scenes for the Extras on the DVD. Scott was really friendly and explained that I am just a fan but I have a website that showcases my memorabilia, etc.. I told him that if he needed a fan to interview...that I was his guy for it. He said YES! And that he would interview me. You could tell that he was telling the truth. I would be interviewed later in the evening. I saw Scott again before the movie and he explained to me that he was not able to film too much due to the poor lighting. It was too dark and he was not able to interview me. I know he was not trying to brush me off. Too bad!
It was now 7PM and all of a sudden the masses were coming. I saw a sea of people rushing to the seating area. Many of them carrying blankets, pillows, food etc. It was good to see such a great turn out for the event. There were a lot of people hanging around checking out the memorabilia and purchasing shirts.
Around 7:30 my brother and I headed over to Johnny's monument again. It was good that we did that because walking in the area near the VIP section was Mr. Marky Ramone. He was with a few other people and was walking over to wear the fans were. I was the first fan to ask him for an autograph and photo. I told Marky that I was Gaston from Ramonesforever.com. He knew a little about me from previous times I had emailed him and from the good words of Paolo Di Gaetano. Paolo is the President of the Ramones Italian Fan Club and a long time friend of Marky's. Paolo told Marky that I was going to see him at the event. I think that is why Marky did sign and speak to me for more than 5 minutes. I felt a little bad because I was taking time away from other fans. But that was not the case he signed and took photos with everyone. Marky saw my Ramonesforever.com shirt and asked if I had one for him. I told him that I was going to bring one but.... and he said "what you did not think that I would wear it?" That was funny. I told him that I would send one to him. He actually gave me his HOME address! That was cool!. I told him that my website showcases my collection of live recordings and memorabilia. He thought that I sell the recordings. I explained that I don't. He offered to write something for my site. He signed many CD sleeves for me. Then I took a photo with him. After that I asked him to make a commercial for my website and he did. It was really cool that he did that for me. Next my brother went up and had Marky sign some more autographs, the items were actually mine. He signed a program, record sleeves including a DUST promo 7" that he signed Marc Bell. My brother took a photo with him. Then we took off from that area.
I found out that Arturo was giving the VIP wristbands. He had promised us wristbands but was only able to give one to me. My brother said to me..."Tonight it is all about you", I thought that was cool, I felt bad...but I did the same for him at a concert in San Diego a few years ago. So now I was on my way to the VIP area. It was an area behind the wall where the movie was going to be projected on. I walked into the area and it was just a few tables a tent with food and a large grass area. My goal was to meet and take a photo with Linda Ramone. I found her and I waited until she was done speaking to someone. I approached her and said "Linda, my name is Gaston and I am taking photos for Arturo's website". She said cool, then I asked if I could take a photo with her and she said yes. I could not believe that I was speaking to her and that she agreed to take a photo with me. She was very nice and I am glad that the photo came out good. I was so happy to have met her. I told her thank you and I was off to find more people.
I then saw Slim Jim Phantom of the Stray Cats. I took a photo with him. He was really really cool, I told him that I was excited to see the Stray Cats reunion show in San Diego. He was happy that I mentioned that.
Next, I went up to Henry Rollins and waited until he was done speaking to a girl. I took a photo with him and explained that at the 30th Anniversary Party in 2004 I spilled my drink on him. I told him that I thought that he was going to beat me up. He laughed and said that he would not do that. He was cool too.
I then saw Riff Randal herself...P.J. Soles. She is the coolest girl ever! She was so nice to me. You could tell that she is genuinely a great person. She is the best!!!
I asked Arturo to introduce me to Dee Dee's first wife Vera. I was not sure if she would want to take a photo with me...was I wrong! She was so so nice to me. She had her purse and actually put in on the floor and then posed with me like if she knew me for a long time. It was nice to have met her.
I was done, I took photos with everyone I could. I then heard Linda tell everyone that it was time to go to our seats. I brought out my video camera and film as everyone was heading to the seating area. I was walking with everyone and was filming Arturo and Marky talking. I heard Arturo ask Marky about Raw II. As we got closer to the area, I could hear someone on the microphone. It was Henry Rollins, I had no idea he had left the VIP area and ran to the microphone. He have such a exciting and powerful speech. The crowed went nuts!
I found my brother filming Henry's speech from the left hand side. Then he focused his camera on the VIP's going to their seats. Linda walked right in front of him and my brother took a few photos as she looked right at him. She signed an autographed and then walked to her seat. I followed and sat about 5 seats next to her. I thought that I was cool! Then I got up and told my brother to jump the one foot high rope and to come into the VIP seats.
The movie was not yet on but they were showing candid photos of the Ramones. While that was on, a bunch of people climbed over the rope and headed to the VIP sections. They were taking photos with Henry Rollins. He must of taken photos with 30 different people and he was so cool about it. I pushed my brother to the front of the line and he took a photo with Henry. Then we went over to see Slim Jim Phantom of the Stray Cats. He got out of his chair and took a photo with my brother. We next headed over to P.J. Soles. She took a photo with my brother and continued to be such a nice person to us.
It was now time for Marky's speech introducing the movie. He spoke for a few minutes and gave a great introduction. Then he sat back down and then 1-2-3-4!...the movie started.
We thought that the movie was going to start at 6PM and that we would leave around 8PM for our 2 hour drive back home to San Diego. I was too far away from my wife and daughter and I wanted to be home early (If you are a parent with a young baby, you will know what I mean). I was told that the movie was going to start at 9PM. Therefore we did end up staying a little bit longer than we planned. We ended up staying until 9:10 and only watch a few minutes of the movie. Oh well, I did have an amazing experience before the show!
REMEMBER THIS: Scott from the Starz Network told me that The Too Tough To Die Movie will be broadcasted on September 15, 2007 on their channel...you heard it here first!