The Ramones were never a gateway band or influencer for me. I do however, have a very close and intimate relationship with punk music, and understand the legacy the Ramones have created over the years. I also have close ties with the borough of Queens, having lived here about 8 of the 10 years of my time spent in New York City. In fact, when I first moved to New York City, settling in Sunnyside because of cheap rent and proximity to Manhattan, I discovered the Ramones played some of their earliest gigs at local pubs, at least according to Wikipedia.
When I learned many months ago that the band would have a special exhibit at the Queens Museum in honor of their 40th anniversary, I knew it would be something I would have to check out. Of course, I waited until the last weekend of the exhibit to actually do so. Luckily it was a Friday afternoon, so not too crowded, as I’m sure Saturday and Sunday would be much worse.
Although a bit of a hike from the Mets/Willets Point 7 train stop, the weather was nice enough while we walked through Flushing Meadows Corona Park and near what is left of the old World’s Fair. I’ve been to Queens Museum before, so was really only interested in the Ramones exhibit, as well as the new Lockwood gift shop (sister location of the one in Astoria near where I live) which is the official gift shop of the museum.
After paying the “suggested donation” (i.e. whatever we wanted), we went straight tot he exhibit. I noticed that we actually ran through the exhibit backwards, and didn’t realize until the very end, but this definitely didn’t ruin the experience in the slightest. Where we started was with a looping 30 minute live concert from New Year’s Eve in a special screening room, and then leading into 3 separate rooms with different displays and information for each. The first we had was the Ramones influence on pop culture and solo efforts by each of the band members.
This was followed two rooms of numerous amounts of memorabilia: band t-shirts and posters/flyers, actual equipment and clothing worn by the band, artwork both by and of the band, excepts from their lyric sheets, magazine and album covers, and even yearbook photos and report cards from high school. It was vaguely divided into sections, each with a small paragraph on the wall that detailed the journey of the band from formation, touring, record deals and popularity, break up and solo careers, to band members deaths and the legacy they left on the world. Again, this was seen out of order by us, but we still enjoyed it.
Overall I was glad to have checked this out before it was taken down, and interesting to discover more about a band that grew up and got their start only a few towns over from where I live now. I wish the exhibit had a bit more on the general history of punk music, but I realize that could go in many different directions and potentially have no focus. I would normally close with a cheesy pun from some of their lyrics, but will end with their classic appearance on The Simpsons (which they happened to show at the exhibit).