Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Road Trip Report: Ramones Exhibit at the Queens Museum

When the Ramones released their first album 40 years ago, they were either ignored or dismissed as reprobates by vast swaths of the population. Several decades later, they have now been embraced as hometown heroes in their birthplace. The Queens Museum is honoring their contributions to (the downfall of) society is an exhibition "Hey! Ho! Let's Go: Ramones and the Birth of Punk" that opened in April and runs through July 31.

The exhibit consists of four galleries of photos, music, artwork, artifacts, videos, instruments, handwritten lyrics, press clippings and other memorabilia. The materials and supporting text detail the story and influence of the band. Among the highlights are their first press release, penned by Tommy, that demonstrates his vision for the band from the get-go as well as their sense of humor. Visa applications provide a rare photo of Joey without shades. Video screens display early rehearsals and performances, and a block of six old CRT TVs offers a rotation of their music videos. One display includes Johnny's Mosrite guitar and clothes they wore in concert, which were definitely not costumes because part of their ethos was to dress the same on stage and off. As befitting a band with an art director, visuals compromise a significant component, primarily from Arturo Vega but also from other contributors, such as Mark Kostabi's original painting for the cover of ¡AdiĆ³s Amigos!

It winds down by describing the post-Ramones careers of the members but ends on a bittersweet note, that the band had limited success while it was active but has grown in stature after the death the original members.

The gift shop has a limited assortment of Ramones gear for most ages (babies and adults, but no t-shirts in kid sizes), and you can feel a lot better about buying stuff there than at Hot Topic.

The museum has other exhibitions, too. I skipped them. They weren't about the Ramones.

My visit lasted about an hour, accompanied by semi-squirmy/semi-interested kids who like but don't love the Ramones.

If you are planning a visit and you are not familiar with the area, keep in mind that the museum is near Citi Field, USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the New York State Pavillion and the New York Hall of Science. These can either be added attractions for your trip to the area or causes of traffic tie-ups that you want to avoid.

Finally, if you want to reenact "Happy Family," specifically "Sittin' here is Queens, eatin' refried beans," Taqueria Nixtamal is a short drive or long walk from the museum and is a cheerful little hole-in-the-wall with seats and refried beans. Service isn't quick, but the Mexican food is very fresh and carefully prepared. (Disclaimer: this restaurant recommendation is not an endorsement for gulping down Thorazines. And you'll need to bring your own magazines.)

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