Copyright: 2006 -> Jari-Pekka Laitio-Ramone



I wasn't surprised that I was pretty much stressed out when I started my trip to the New York and to the Joey Ramone Birthday Bash. I did 27 newspaper articles during the last 7 days before my trip. For example I did 6 band/ artist interviews and 4 CD reviews. During the last 24 hours before I started my trip, I did 5 updates to my homepage, packed some book orders and replied 70 E-mails. Like I did confirm with David Kelly that he comes to pick me up from JFK airplane station in NYC and I changed many E-mails with photographer Maggie St. Thomas, she had problems to book her hotel and I tried to help. I got chance to go to sleep at 7AM and sleep 4,5 hours and then I had to pack my items and visit some places before I did travel to Seinäjoki. There I started my trip at 8AM in a next morning, I was staying night in a house of my brother Peter and his wife Niina.

I did flight from Helsinki, Finland to New York, USA. I had to change plane in Amsterdam, Holland. From Amsterdam to New York I had luckily really great person sitting next to me in a airplane, Julie Weddle, and also her mother Lilia Weddle was sitting pretty close. Julie was seen the Ramones at CBGB's in 1976 and she also knew of the rock things in general. We discussed many hours, also about animal rights. Julie is as well vegetarian (I've been since mid 90's) and works in weekends as a volunteer in a house of homeless pets.

It was easy to find David Kelly and his friendly smile also this year at JFK. I've known with David since 2001, then he recognized me in first Joey's memory Birthday Bash and came to talk and we became soon friends. I got honour to stay also this year in his apartment and we had many plans for next 12 days. We went by taxi to his house. One of the first subjects what we discussed was health situation of lovely Taina..., he asked how she was at the moment.
A bit later David told that he was seen the Pogues singer Shane MacGowan. Shane was played a while before shows in New York, Boston etc. David is a friend with Barry Reilly who is owner and bartender of Irish bar The Quays (Astoria, Queens, NY). Shane came to have after party in that bar. Shane was also chose songs from jukebox, his first pick was then Outsider by the Ramones. Before my trip I was just tried to get confirmed date when I do book interview with Shane. After we arrived to David's apartment, we had small party with his neighbour, we drank Coconut Bacardi, maple syrup liquor etc. and David also Karhu beers which I brought to him from Finland.

I tried to relax in second day of my trip (May 12) until David came back to his house from work. Then we headed soon to the CBGB's Gallery. There was opening of the Joey Ramone Birthday Bash Group Photography Show. You got chance to buy photos and works and money went for Lymphoma research. In that exhibition were photos and works by Stephanie Chernikowski, George DuBose, Godlis, Suzanne Gruber, Tom Hearn, Patty Heffley, Josie Montserrat, John Nikolai, George Seminara, Maggie St. Thomas and Arturo Vega. Around half of them were in that opening event. From John Nikolai photos were the most, like of Joey and Ronnie Spector (price 400US$) and of Ramones Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction (150US$). 12 of his 19 photos weren't Ramones related, like there were shots of Damned, Iggy Pop and Dalai Lama. But everyone of course were happy to see them. Photos and works by everyone else were only Ramones related. Like by Josie Montserrat were photos of Tommy Ramone, Marky Ramone, Mickey Leigh and Arturo Vega (150US$ each) taken at Joey Ramone Birthday Bash in 2004. By Maggie St. Thomas were three Ramones live shots and one beautiful photo/ art collage where Joey had angel wings (300US$ each) etc. Arturo Vega wanted to buy that last-mentioned. From Arturo was Ramones Loco Live album cover shot from 1991 (250US$).

I and David Kelly discussed longer how we both really like of the Ramones Subterranean Jungle cover shot (300US$). It's taken by George DuBose. It was in exhibition and also Halfway To Sanity cover shot (300US$). By Patty Heffley were 2 Joey shots, really cool Joey live photo taken in Denver, USA on March 15, 1977 (400US$) and photo where Joey is standing in Dallas, USA in 1977 (300US$). I changed long hug with Suzanne Gruber, it was so lovely to meet with her. She asked what I liked of gift which she sent me in 2005. It's grey dish which has big amount of small clear round glasses and every clear round glass has one picture, like Ramones logo, drawing of the guys etc. I was happy to tell my honest positive comments of it and that it's in my room next to Joey Ramone Bobble Head Doll.

Joey's mother Charlotte Lesher and brother Mickey Leigh were behind of that nice exhibition. It was of course great to meet with them again and also for example with John Holmstrom (Punk magazine etc.), Mike and Denise Breschard, Adele Holzman, Chris von Beidel, Monte Melnick... I knew in advance that Mike, Denise and Adele are coming to the exhibition. With Mike and Adele I'm lot in touch in general and we had nice discussions in exhibition. It was nice to meet first time with Tom Hearn and his wife Ann Hearn. I also met first time with Tom Andrukevich who came to exhibition together with his friend Mike Czekaj. Andrukevich got in touch with me first time when he did order my first book Heaven Needed A Lead Singer: Fans Remember Joey Ramone and he then wrote in letter some great early Ramones memories. Andrukevich is friend with Tom Hearn also.

Also I knew to search Sara Valentine. She wrote to me in early May, 2006 and told that there's going to be also another cool occasions in New York on May 19, 2006, on Joey's birthday. She wrote to me of pilgrimage which starts from Forest Hills High School (Rock And Roll High School...) at noon. It's ten-mile pilgrimage to the sacred spots in the Ramones legacy, ending at Tompkins Square Park at 8PM etc. Then they're having a tribute to Joey at CBGBs Gallery, it's titled The Feast Of St. Joey. Sara told that she works at CBGB.s Gallery as a bartender, so it was easy to find her.

In addition to this CBGB's Gallery exhibition, there was also another exhibition at the Morrison Hotel Gallery and it featured, solely, the works of Bob Gruen. Opening night of it was on May 20. Mickey invited me and David to come there, but in the end we didn't got chance to go there. With both exhibitions were raised money for Lymphoma research.