CLICK ON THE PHOTOS
JOHNNY RAMONE ANNUAL EVENT 2008-08-01 HOLLYWOOD, CA
August 1, 2008 I attended the annual Ramones Event at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. This time around there would be appearances from three Ramones. There was Tommy Ramone, Marky Ramone and CJ Ramone. This was a rare occasion to have all three of them back together at one time. There was no way that I was going to miss it, but I almost did. Fortunately, the cards were on my side and I was able to go.
My brother Jorge and I drove from San Diego along with 3 digital cameras and two video cameras and a box full of Ramones stuff to get signed. We arrived at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery at 4:15PM. There were only a handful of people there and nothing was set up. As we walked up to the area, we saw Monte Melnick. I let him settle in before I went up to him to say hello.
We took several photos of Johnny's statue and Dee Dee's headstone. After that, I went up to Monte as he was setting up his table for his book signing. I had emailed him a few days before asking him if he would be able to obtain an extra VIP pass for me. He mentioned that there were no extra passes available. Monte is a very nice person. I have met him twice before and he has always been nice. After we spoke for a while, he asked me to take photos of him at Johnny's statue. During our many conversations I asked him to make a few promotional videos for my website, just like he did in the 2007 event. He made one promoting my website and a second one promoting his newly updated "On The Road with the Ramones" book. He then received a phone call from Gene The Cop and I overheard that he was in the cemetery already and CJ was with him. Well, that just made my brain go upside down. By this time it was still early and there was a lady that was upset that there were fans already inside and that she was going to get people out. So each time she would pass by, I would hide behind this small building and managed to stay.
It was now 5:30PM and I saw CJ and Gene walking towards Johnny's statue. That was my chance to take photos with him and video. At the same time I saw a group of fans that noticed him and walked towards him. Since I was there first with him, the other fans respectively let me speak with him alone with my brother (that was cool, thank you). I introduced myself and spoke to CJ regarding my website. Right away I asked to take a photo with him and he was really cool about it. My brother and I took several photos with him next to Johnny. Then I asked him the question that I had planned for a long time "CJ, would you please make a promo video for my website?" He said yes, and he did it!!!! I then asked him about his South America Tour in August 2008. I asked if he would want to make a small video promoting the tour and that I would put it on YouTube. He was a little shy about it at first, and then we were filming the promo. I knew that I was taking a little advantage, but I still asked if he could sign many things for me. He said yes but he wanted to settle in first. It felt so cool to be speaking with my hero.
After CJ spoke to a couple of fans and said hello to other people, I went up to him and asked if he could sign my stuff. He was very nice and started to signed 23 items for me. They ranged from concert flyers, tickets, magazines, cd's, records to a shirt from the FINAL Ramones show. He was amazed of some of the items I had for him to sign. During this time it was an opportunity for me to speak to him more about my website. He was actually very interested. I mentioned my collection of memorabilia and live recordings. I told him that I would send copies of any recording he would be interested in. He gave me his email address for me to contact him later (for CJ's privacy, I cannot provide his email address to anyone...sorry). We spoke for long while and I tried my best to keep cool and not seemed to excited...even though I was out of my mind. The person next to CJ is Gene The Cop. He was part of the Ramones crew/friend for many years. Boy does he has stories and stuff. I plan to add to my memorabilia with some of the stuff he has.
After CJ was finished signing my items, he walked around and just hung out. There was still not that many people there and it was just great to be there. After a while, I notice that Tommy Ramone had arrived and was at the Johnny statue. I went over to him and took photos while he was next to the statue. He then walked over to the tables and met with CJ. Here we go again, I ask Tommy if he would sign some of my items. He agreed and signed 8 items for me, including an original concert flyer from 1977. My brother and I took many photos of Tommy and some with him. We spoke to him for a while and then asked if he would make a commercial for my website. I did not think he would say yes...and I was right. He did not want to do that. Oh well...at least I tried.
Things slowed down for a little while after we met with Tommy. I then had time to organize the items I had autographed and to get ready for when Marky would arrive. I really had a hard time organizing due to just being excited about meeting CJ & Tommy again. I met CJ a few times before and Tommy once before.
I did not get to rest for long because arriving was Linda Ramone. We rushed to the statue as she was being professionally photographed. Once she was done, I went up to her and introduced myself to her and told her I was from Ramonesforever.com. She was very polite and said "nice to meet you". I asked her if I could take a photo of her and she was fine with it. After taking a photo with her and of her, she walked over to the table where CJ and Tommy were.
She met with both CJ, Tommy and then Monte came over. There was a professional photographer there and began to take photos of all of them. This was just perfect for us to photograph them as a group. When the heck would you see this again. At this time there were still not that many people there and gave us perfect time with them. They posed for the photographer, but we stood behind him and was able to get some photos of the group looking at the camera.
When the group photographs were done, by brother and I went up to Linda again. I asked if she would sign my shirt. At the 2007 Too Tough To Die event, I asked her is she would sign my shirt and she said that "Johnny would kill her if she would sign it". I guess she thought that I was from a professional Ramones website that was making money off of the band. I told her that I was just a fan with a few things to display to the world. Then she signed my shirt. That was really cool. My brother did not have a chance earlier to take a photo with her and now was his opportunity.
Showing up to the event was John Cafiero from Osaka Popstar. He began to run the event and was making sure that things were running well. It was weird seeing him do this as I had no clue that he was in charge of johnnyramone.com. He spoke to everyone and later came up to me an introduced himself. He was extremely nice. I told him about my website and that I had a ton of live recordings on CD and DVD that would kick his ass. He was very interested in keeping me as a contact for any future Ramones or Johnny Ramone projects. He gave me an email address that I can contact him at. That was great networking for me.
Ok, it was now show time and the gates to the cemetery were open. All of a sudden there were tons and tons of people coming to the lawn area and started to form a line at the table for CJ & Tommy. The line grew long very fast. Every single person in line was excited to see the band and you were able to see it in their faces and the things they would say. Both CJ & Tommy were really good to the fans and signed everything they had and took photos with them. Many of the people still had the items sealed and delayed the line by taking the wrapping off as they got to the table. I was standing next to Tommy most of the time and even began to direct the people in line to get there things ready for them. They started to listen and this was my chance to make people think that I was part of the event. This made me noticeable to many people and specially CJ, Tommy and John Cafiero. I must have come out in hundreds of photos by just standing there. My brother Jorge was on the other side of the table next to CJ and photographed from that side. We had both angles cover and made it possible to catch all the action. Those guys must have signed a million things by now.
All of a sudden I turned around and saw a huge crowd by the statue. I knew only that it meant that Marky had arrived. We grabbed our stuff and headed over to Marky. There must have been 50 people or so around him, but I was determined to push my way through...and I did it pretty fast. He was taking photos with people and signing everything. Linda Ramone came over to greet him and they took photos together by the statue. Marky must of signed for over an hours. There were many people in front of me and when I got up to him, I gave 14 items to sign for me and he was impressed with the stuff I had for him to sign. Once he was done, I asked him if he could take a photo with me and after that I asked him to make a commercial for my website. He made one back in 2007 for me and was great. A few weeks before the event, I emailed Marky asking if he would sign everything I had and make the commercial. Later Marky's wife, came up to me and asked if I got what I wanted signed. She asked if I was a friend of Paolo from the Italian Fan Club and I said yes. She was very nice and I should have taken a photo with her....maybe next time.
We left the area where Marky was at and headed over to the lawn area. I took the following photos with Monte Melnick and Gene the Cop. I met Monte earlier in the day and we spoke for a while and then he made two commercials for me. One was promoting his new edition of this book and the second was to promote my website. He is really great.
At this point it was getting late in the evening and I needed to get back home to San Diego (2 hours away). I was not going to stay for the entire event. As we headed to our car that was inside the cemetery, I heard John Fruciante's voice over the speakers. He was at the radio booth giving an interview. Hell ya...it was my time to go to the booth and film it while my brother took photos. It was really cool to be right there just a few feet away. When John was done with the interview he came down and people went up to him. I got his attention and he took a photo with me and another with my brother. I asked if he would do a commercial for my website, but he declined.
Monte Melnick also gave an interview and I took one photo as he was in the interview booth. It was funny to see them both pose for the photo.
For the rest of the time that we stayed we saw Slim Jim Phantom of the Stray Cats and John Cafiero being interviewed. We also saw the arrivals of Rose McGowan and and Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Flea was parked two cars away from us. As he got out of his car we went up to him and took photos with him. He was very cool about it.
This was a very good event for me. I was able to photograph and film most of it. There were many opportunities for me to network, obtain autographs and meet many people. I hope you all enjoyed my photos and review.