Oh, man. This one really gets you, because you spend a little over an hour with this man, just sitting on a stool in a darkened empty room, just you and him and his innumerable tattoos. He’s not some dirty fuckin scummy thief lying drug addict; he’s just Douglas Colvin, a regular guy from Queens who loves his guitar, cooking breakfast for you in his little kitchen with his cat, who’s working hard every day to stay off the dope that has plagued him for the last 25 years.
And, then, one day, he’s just gone. Overdose.
The film came about when the director filmed Dee Dee in the early 90s about his tumultuous relationship with Johnny Thunders, following his passing in 1991. He then compiled the extensive interview material into a film on Ramone, released posthumously. Dee Dee sure dodged a bullet that year, being the lone survivor of a lost weekend in Paris with Thunders and Stiv Bators, who both passed later that year under most grim circumstances.
This is arguably the most effective documentary I have come across in portraying its subject. It’s barebones, stark, gritty, and completely unforgettable. Ramone’s plainspoken, stream of consciousness oral history of punk’s salad days in 70s NYC is a greater history lesson than any punk rock tome I’ve ever read. Bottom line, he lived it.
I never was much for The Ramones, but I leave this hour spent with the utmost respect for the man. Such a kind heart, a true friend, a musician who loved what he did, a real New Yorker, full of joie de vivre.