New York City, and the borough of Queens, continues to honor the Ramones during this 40th-anniversary year. On Sunday, October 30, the corner of 67th Avenue and 110th Street, in front of their alma mater Forest Hills High School, will be christened “The Ramones Way.” This follows a year of Ramones activities and events that kicked off with the opening of the exhibition Hey! Ho! Let’s Go! Ramones and the Birth of Punk at the Queens Museum, a mile from Forest Hills High. The commemorations continued with Ori Carino’s mural of the four musicians at Thorneycroft Ramp, a group hang-out at 66th Avenue and 99th Street in Forest Hills.
There is some irony in locating Ramones Way in front of their high school, given that the Ramones were not model students. Tommy (né Tome Erdelyi) and Johnny (John Cummings) did okay, but Joey (Jeffrey Hyman) was held back a year, and Dee Dee (Douglas Colvin) never graduated. Moreover, the school has no shortage of other distinguished graduates, including current Treasury Secretary Jack Lew (whose signature appears on all newly minted U.S. bills) and enough musicians to earn it the nickname “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School”: Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel, Burt Bacharach, Leslie West. Still, the Ramones remain forever associated with Queens, and with Forest Hills High School, in a way few other alumni are. Maybe the low expectations set out for these four misfits serve as a lesson that you don’t have to be at the top of your class to find success. As the street sign will remind future visitors, Johnny, Joey, Dee Dee, and Tommy didn’t take the normal path: they did things “The Ramones Way.”
The street naming was instigated by Forest Hills’ representative in City Council, Karen Koslowitz. The ceremony begins at 11 a.m. on Sunday, and will include musician and author Mickey Leigh (Joey Ramone’s brother), the Ramones’ former manager Danny Fields, and their former tour manager, Monte Melnick. The program also includes Gallery 98’s Marc H. Miller, co-curator of Hey! Ho! Let’s Go! Ramones and the Birth of Punk, which is on view at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles through February 28.