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Ramones fans turn out in droves for new street naming

Mickey Leigh (c), the brother of lead singer Joey Ramone, celebrates the street renaming with City Council member Karen Koslowitz (l-r), Borough President Melinda Katz and Rep. Grace Meng.
Photo by Michael Shain
By Patrick Donachie

Ramones fans gathered from far and wide to celebrate the renaming of the intersection of 67th Avenue and 110th Street outside of Forest Hills High School as “Ramones Way.” The school is the alma mater of the four original members of the band.

Family members and elected officials were on hand, including Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills). When she first made her introductions at the microphone, there was a technical error with no sound emanating.

“You’ve got to speak louder!” someone in the crowd yelled. “The Ramones killed my hearing!”

Koslowitz told the crowd how the Ramones performed more than 2,200 shows during the course of their career, and lamented the fact that Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy, the four original members, were not alive to see the respect their music garnered.

“When students look up and see the giant green sign and say, ‘who are the Ramones?’” she said to chuckles from the crowd, teachers could respond by saying “that four giants of the entertainment world did what you do now – walked through the doors of Forest Hills High School.”

David Farrer learned about the renaming through the band’s official site. He said he had been a fan for about 30 years and seen the group play live about 15 times.

“They’re so relatable. They seem like guys I would hang out with, friends of mine,” he said, detailing why he was attracted to the band. “It’s why so many bands are influenced by them.”

The Ramones was formed in 1974 in Forest Hills by a group of friends who all took the name “Ramone” as a stage surname. They regularly frequented CBGBs in New York City and wrote a dizzying number of classic songs, including “Blitzkrieg Bop,” “Beat on the Brat” and “Teenage Lobotomy.”

Robert Yenco came to the festivities with a giant papier-mâché rendering of Joey’s head that he could wear on top of his own. He said he commissioned an artist to prepare the piece so he could wear it for the annual Joey Ramone birthday celebration in Manhattan, but he felt the street renaming was cause to break it out again.

“As a teenager, I knew there was something different to them,” he said. “But all these years later, I still hear something I haven’t heard before.”

At the end of the event, a crowd gathered beneath a white cloth covering a street sign. Spectators spanning generations from grandparents to infants surrounded the sign, many wearing shirts emblazoned with the band’s signature crest.

“OK, on a count of three!” an organizer yelled to the crowd, giving them a cue for when they would pull the sheet. Someone yelled that it needed to be a four-count, in honor of the rapid-fire way Dee Dee Ramone would count in a song live with a “1-2-3-4” yelp.

The crowd obliged, and on the four count, the sheet was pulled away to unveil a brand new sign that said “Ramones Way.” The crowd cheered in approval.

“Take it, Dee Dee!” someone yelled.

Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdonachie@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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