Last weekend, we lost the great “Tommy Ramone” the last original of “The Ramones”.
Tommy had been SUCH an integral part of my music collection VERY early on, but I just didn’t know it.
I’d always been a Ramones fan, as far back as I can remember, I think around the time I got MTV (which for me I was a teenager, I just never had cable, people make early Nickelodeon jokes and I just smile and stare at them blankly) so MTV had a show called “120 Minutes” and I watched it obsessively (to be fair, I watched “Headbangers Ball” and “YO MTV RAPS” obsessively too) but the second I saw that Ramones video “I WANNA BE SEDATED” I was hooked. These guys, they made this wonderful catchy tune, and I immediately had run out to get a few of their records…my first haul of Ramones records was “LOCO LIVE”, “HALFWAY TO SANITY” and “BRAIN DRAIN”…eventually to take it easier on my thin-pathetic- almost empty- teenage wallet, I bought “RAMONES MANIA”, and “ALL THE STUFF AND MORE” VOLUMES 1 AND 2, each one had 30+ songs, so it was easier as I was making 4 bucks an hour at “Pats Cards and News Shop”, where I started working at 14 years old, pretty much to fund all the music I wanted to buy. Should I have maybe saved for a car or some cooler clothes than the ones I was wearing? YEAH PROBABLY, but I didn’t. I bought tons of music instead. The Ramones, WOW. These were amazing sugary pop songs, thrown into a blender and turned to “frappe”, I was hooked, and I mean REALLY hooked. No girls liked me, and at 14-15 years old, I certainly didn’t have many cool things to do anyway, so I specifically remember on Saturday nights, playing those records over and over, and even putting it on “shuffle” so I can hear them in a different order. Then I would make a compilation mix of songs I liked, as I had to be at work the next morning at 6am or whenever to start assembling the Sunday newspapers at “Pats Cards and News Shop” (Sunday papers all arrive in sections, so you have to assemble them and get your hands filthy and black from all the ink) I brought a boom box with me and I played these Ramones compilations, which mostly, no one wanted to hear. I mean it’s 6am and you have some fast talking 14 year old in your ear babbling about Ramones deep cuts, I don’t blame my co workers in that era. It started then, pretty much coinciding with when I discovered “THE REPLACEMENTS” (which I equally played to the point where no one let me control the music selections any longer) my first Replacements record was called “TIM” and I played it in my headphones over and over and over. Something about it. I read the liner notes, saw it was produced by TOMMY ERDELYI, who was also thanked on a SMITHEREENS record I was also playing non stop. So here we are, my life’s soundtrack (well at 14-15) was The Ramones, The Smithereens, and The Replacements, and somehow it ended up all being connected, this Tommy Erdelyi WAS Tommy Ramone, Tommy Ramone WAS Tommy Erdelyi! If he wasn’t drumming or producing the Ramones, he was getting thanked by the Smithereens or producing that amazing Replacements record (he actually produced a couple of them) so for a lot of years in my young life, it was tough to find something I wasn’t obsessing over in which this guy WASN’T somehow connected.
With art though, that’s the great thing, it’ll last forever. We lost Tommy Ramone, but his music will last forever, and any memory of my teen years til now (I’m currently 406 years old) will always have that feeling, that excited “new” feeling of hearing that music, I’ll never ever forget that feeling, and I’m so thankful this guy was around. He’ll be missed.
UPDATED: I just remembered this Ramones story. I was maybe a little older, still teenaged, and they were playing this dive venue in NEWARK DELAWARE called “THE STONE BALLOON” (Springsteen and Metallica played there) and I asked the bouncer if I could come in. He said no. I promised I wouldn’t drink and that I’d just see the gig, hands in my pockets, I’d even stand next to him to he could see I was behaving. Then I said “I’ll be so quiet!” and they kicked me out. It was worth a try. The Ramones are now all gone, and the Stone Balloon was plowed over and rebuilt as “the Stone Balloon Wine Bar” I’m actually unhappy at all of how that turned out.
Last weekend, we lost the great “Tommy Ramone” the last original of “The Ramones”.
"Keep on moving through all this hustle, head up, heads down through all of the bustle, New York City wanna flex your muscle" -Matisyahu
NYC! Upright Citizens Brigade: where even the urinals are funny. Looks like this'll be my summer home, I'll do all the same stuff I do at home, act a fool, make up songs for the dog to sing etc etc, the only difference is people will be staring at me saying WTF. Actually that's pretty much exactly what happens at home too.
Tim's Mint Julep recipe: little sugar (powdery not grainy, stay classy) some mint sprigs (4?5? 6 if you're feeling frisky and I like to think that you are) little water (like a squirt this isn't bath time) mush it up, nice, now add your bourbon (pointer and thumb together, go wide. Little wider, boom). Ice. After 4 or 5 your breath will be minty and FANTASTIC. Also, if you're pants-less and dancing alone in a corner singing "NUMBA ONE CHIEF ROCKA", CONGRATS! You've done it right, you champion.
“So now I’m standing on the overpass screaming at the cars ‘HEY, I WANNA GET BETTER’”
My next (hopeful) feature film’s screenplay is complete.
This thing is called “GREEN VALLEY CIRCLE”, and we had a ton of attention on it when I handed it over to Hollywood.
About 3 years ago.
Please allow to me explain. I had this idea, and my idea and my plan, was to not over do it. To make a wonderful little short film out of it. I was inspired by what Luke Matheny had done with his film “God of Love”. It was this wonderful little flick, it moved, it’s pacing was perfect, it was funny, had a great ending, it didn’t overstay it’s welcome. It was 20-25 minutes and that was it. Oh, he also won some little award for it, what was it called? Jelly of month club? Nah that’s not it. BJ’s “shopper of the month”? NO not that one either, I think it was called the Academy Award. So Luke’s tale is that simple, tell your story, if its 2 hours great, if it’s 20 minutes, that’s great too, and I agree, I love short films, I’ll watch short films, and yes, if you or your friends have one, I’ll watch that too. When I’m at film festivals, I love seeing them, I make a point to see them. So when I wrote GREEN VALLEY CIRCLE, here it is, it’s a solid idea, a funny idea, 25 pages BOOM, let’s get it going.
Then the tires screeched.
I’d handed off GVC (under it’s different name) to a few folks, all reactions were wonderful and gave me the warm and fuzzies. I got this thing off to Los Angeles, and I have a few opinions I care about out there, and one came back. “Love it, but 25 minutes of film? Who’s going to watch this, if you want grandmas and the masses to enjoy your idea, it better be a full length feature film”. That sentiment was echoed by a few fancy Hollywood agents too. Ok. No problem. It’s 25 pages. I just need to make it longer. So I did just that, in the last 18 months, I’d picked up sporadically (I’d been working on some other projects, keeping me from firing up the old laptop as much as I’d like/need to) and I just fattened it up. See where I wrote that joke on page 8? KABLAM NOW THERE ARE 2 JOKES ON PAGE 8.
Shame on me for taking this approach. I’d been in love with the 25 pager, and now I had to fatten it up and I was just throwing a little here, throwing a little there, just adding around a 25 page structure. I wasn’t happy with it. Why? Because 25 pages was a sprint. 100+pages is a marathon, I was trying to make a sprint a marathon length. I needed to get past my own ego (we all have ‘em friends and most times they get you into more trouble than not) throw out my fattened sprint version, blow it up, start from scratch. It hurt. I knew my 25 pager was nice, as I stood there watching it blow up. Time to be better than that.
Page 1. A blank page 1. No magic here yet. No 25 page crutch, just an evil white blank page staring back at me. First draft time again. Any first draft hurts. The key is biting your lip, holding your nose, and just get that story down. Plenty of time to re write and reshape, just get those words down. "Stop feeling sorry for yourself, Carr, just get those words down." I fired up a playlist of songs (listed above) that felt like “Green Valley Circle” for me and just started hammering it out. Write when you’re at your smartest, for me, I’m a morning guy, 6am-2pm is my prime idea time, after that I revert back to being my drooling-borderline- incoherent-babbling normal self. I took advantage when things were quiet, I took advantage of turning up that playlist loudly and little by little, this piece stopped being a 25 page idea, I changed the pacing, the structure, added some, took away some, and little by little, this story became bigger, a nice sweet feature length film, something I’m excited about, maybe even more excited than the 25 pager from 3 years ago that was getting calls and emails returned from Hollywood (you know your project is decent when you get return emails and calls, LA doesn’t normally do that unless your Tom Hanks and seriously, who wouldn’t return an email from Tom Hanks, that would be just a jerk move IT’S TOM HANKS)
So now I look at this stack of 90 plus pieces of paper. This is in the “pie cooling” phase. You leave it alone for a couple days, pick it up, take a bit, see how it tastes, what does it need? Does that need to be re written? Should that part go in? should that line be funnier? We’re getting close. Taking the time with it, then in the next couple of weeks, this thing goes out. I’ve already done my homework and got many actors aboard with the 25 page version, now we’ll need to catch a few more big fish, and then we’ll hopefully be ready to go. How does this thing get across the finish line? I don’t know. Worst case? We can still shoot this thing on no budget, but I think finally, the right people in LA are getting what they wanted from GREEN VALLEY CIRCLE, and after blowing the whole thing up and starting from scratch, I’m finally able to get what I want from this thing too.
Now that thing is close to LA bound…going right on to the next thing, strike while it’s hot, keep that momentum going my 3rd TV pilot in some sort of production phase this year, I get to write this one too, so it looks like I better go fire up the old lap top again, it feels like 2014 is just really getting going now.
Good luck with everything you all, hope this whole drooling-borderline- incoherent-babbling story encouraged you to go fire up a project or something that may have been sitting for a bit, pick it up, take a look at it. Maybe blow it up. Have some fun with it. See where it all goes...
Take care and be good,
So I found this the other day. My parking pass for “THE SIXTH SENSE” OH YEAH CARR WAS IN THIS HUGE HUGE BLOCKBUSTER….and, well I SORT of was… I hit that cutting room with a thunderous THUD. This was a year where I felt really successful because I think I booked like 5 films, 3 indies and 2 studio pictures…so I had all this buzz for about 4 minutes until I was cut out of both studio flicks and all 3 indies never came out and that buzz went away quicker than you could say “has been”. But like anything and anywhere, sometimes those are the breaks, it’s like Paul Westerberg from The Replacements once said “You might, you might not, but unless you try? You’ll never f—kin know.”
There’s absolutely no way I can’t end my “The Sixth Sense” story like that.
When I was on set of this film, I was on set with the good Kenny James. Kenny you’ll also see in the other image. Yes we were in this STRUCTURE thing before Structure went away (yes I am well aware we may have been the ones to ruin that, sorry). Anyway, Kenny was something special, in the way where he got away with everything, by just acting like it’s what he SHOULD be doing. You know the phrase “act like you’ve been there before”? That’s Kenny to a tee. “The Sixth Sense” was this huge production with Disney money and had these great sets, shut down city streets for locations, and security was everywhere. Me just starting around this time, I followed all the rules, sat where I had to sit, stood where I needed to stand. Not Kenny, somehow Kenny acted like he was big time, and was treated as big time, for like 2 weeks, the guy was having lunch with Bruce Willis, just talking about Kenny things, scoring the fancy lunches, the later call times. How? Because he just sort of walked in with the production crew and they’d be like “are you supposed to be here?” and Kenny in cool Kenny talk would just say “yep” and the world was in his hands (well at least until his stuff ended up on the cutting room floor with me). I’m not sure where Kenny is right now, but I hope he’s somehow in Hollywood or just hanging out at the White House or something very cool and Kenny like.
So what should we all learn from Kenny? Maybe the same thing we learned from Paul Westerberg of The Replacements “You might, you might not, but unless you try? You’ll never f—kin know.”
If you want it, go for it, and who knows? You may eat lunch with Bruce Willis.
Take care and be good,