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South Side Chicago Black Girl & Punk Rock @ the Ramones Museum



I can't exactly pinpoint where or when it started, but I remember liking rock, especially punk rock, from way back.  I had no idea it had a name, I just liked the angry, loud energy.  But there were early signs that, when I'm indulging in a lucid moment of nostalgia, probably predicted it. The first album I ever bought was by Kiss, 'Alive II.'  I can still remember the flash of horror that pushed through the worried smile on my father's kind face.  Why was a record shop on the south side of Chicago even carrying it?  It's the home of the blues, not screaching, wailing guitars.  The first concert I ever asked my parents if I could go to was to see Billy Idol.  I had saved up my hard-earned Showbiz Pizza money and thought the odds were pretty good, but there were never any gurantees with my fairly conservative parents.  Miraculously, my mother said yes and the next thing we knew, my younger sister and I were being dropped off in front of our gate at the concert hall.  We gave the usher our tickets and walked in.  What a revelation! A huge structure with people laughing and eating and drinking and buying expensive t-shirts,  hot dogs, beer, popcorn and hair.  Lots of spiky, tall hair in every color.  We sneered and thrashed our heads along with the rest of the crowd late into the night.  It was our first taste of adolescent freedom and it was glorious.


While I'm a fan of the music, I'm not a scholar, and my knowledge of some bands is pretty thin, but I've loved the Ramones from the very first time I heard them.  I was thrilled when I stumbled on a guidebook listing a Ramones museum in Berlin. Even if your appreciation is sedate, it's hard not to love this museum/cafe combo platter.  It's the first and so far only Ramones museum in the world, and it's exactly what a punk rock museum should be:  filled with cool posters and artifacts, constant loud music, video clips and a place to buy coffee, a glass of wine and chips and salsa.  It's first incarnation opened in 2005, exactly one year after Johnny Ramone died. The vibe is very relaxed and very casual.  There's free wifi, you can hang out there all day as I often have since finding this little gem. The furniture and decor are goth, grungy and grandma all rolled into one.  


The whole place is the collection of one man, Flo Hayler.  His obsession started in 1990 when he attended his first concert.  One day, his girlfriend had had enough of their flat being covered ceiling to floor in Ramones memorabilia, and the idea of the museum was born.  Flo wanted to have a place where music fans, Ramones fans or not, could come and hang out, and share memories and stories.  In this, he has succeeded.  So go, have a coffee and a sandwich and some german beer, listen to and tell some stories.  Hang out and be rock and roll.  

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