Introducing your kids to your record collection is sometimes a crapshoot. They might get down with Michael Jackson, but then turn around and dis on Prince. My 6-year-old son’s favorite insult is that something “sounds like bedtime music.” There are no lullabies in the Ramones canon, and with their unbelievably catchy tunes, the music has become a great introduction to the punk arsenal for my son.
“Hey! Ho! Let’s Go: Ramones and the Birth of Punk” opened at the Queens Museum last weekend, and for those unfamiliar with the borough, it is also a great introduction to Forest Hills, the birthplace of Joey, Johnny, Tommy and Dee Dee.The museum itself sits squarely in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, near the Queens Zoo and the New York Hall of Science. One entrance overlooks the Unisphere, the stainless steel globe the Beastie Boys posed in front of for the “License To Ill” album, which begs to be used as a family photo backdrop to blow up your Instagram.
The exhibit is three rooms full of Ramones paraphernalia, ranging from concert posters, album covers, yearbook photos to music videos, all showing how the band used cohesive branding as an art form. My son was interested in the idea of being “on tour”, living on a bus, and staying up late at night. But he was concerned that their trademark leather jackets, t-shirts and jeans (which are also on display) weren’t warm enough for year-round wear. This was his first taste of what rebellion means.
The music is piped in throughout, and coupled with all the imagery on display, it’s easy to see how the band held influence over generations of punks. “Does every Ramones song have the word ‘rock’ in it?,” my son asked critically. We enjoyed seeing the Ramones parodied in comic books, a Simpson’s episode and in the b-movie “Rock n’ Roll High School.” The screening room showing concert footage was the real highlight, with their minimalist sound and bright lyrics, the music sounds timeless. It’s hard to believe that all the band members have passed away now, but with photos of the elaborate Hollywood Forever tombstones of Johnny and Dee Dee Ramone, it’s apparent that even in death they remain larger than life.
Don’t pass up the great gift shop, where kids can get Ramones’ merch: mini muscle tees, rocker pins for their backpacks, or baseball caps.
After the show, we continued in the Ramones footsteps, with a walk through Forest Hills. We ate lunch at Nick’s Pizza (drive or take Q23 bus from 108 St.) and finished up with an old fashioned egg cream and sundae at Eddie’s Sweet Shop, which has been serving up homemade ice cream for over 100 years.
Queens Museum- Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens, NY 11368-339, Subway 7 to Mets-Willets Point, Hours: Wednesday through Sunday 11-5pm, $8 for adults, $4 for seniors, Free for children 18 and under, Free for all NYC Department Of Education employees with ID, free for NYC ID holders. The Queens Museum offers weekly Drop-in Family Art Workshops on Sundays from 1:30 pm-4:30 pm that are free with museum admission. No advance registration is necessary.
Nick’s Pizza- 108-26 Ascan Ave, Forest Hills, Queens
Eddie’s Sweet Shop- 105-29 Metropolitan Ave, Forest Hills, Queens