I Get High On Your Memory

Johnny Ramone's Widow Linda Gives Us a Tour of Their Beautiful and Bizarre House

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Thu, Aug 16, 2012 at 3:50 AM

click to enlarge KAI FLANDERS
  • Kai Flanders
Linda Ramone lives in an eccentric museum. The widow of iconic Ramones guitarist Johnny Ramone (who died in 2004 of prostate cancer) is dedicated to preserving her late husband's legacy, and his estate. She still lives in the home they shared in the Valley -- a wacky, charmingly garish house filled with things like original posters for Elvis Presley movies and stuffed foxes resting beneath punk memorabilia. And, of course, there's the shrine to Ronald Reagan in the kitchen.

Seated on one of her plush pink chairs in the living room, the ageless Linda conducts herself like the First Lady of Punk. Dressed in a flowing orange dress with red hair fluffed like a dyed cotton ball and plenty of eyeliner, she exudes a kooky confidence.

click to enlarge KAI FLANDERS
  • Kai Flanders
She tells her story with pride in the brassy accent of New York, the city where she met the Ramones at CBGB when she was still a teenager. One thing is clear: She loved Johnny more than anything in the world.

She maintains a cenotaph statue of Johnny at the Hollywood Forever cemetery, which depicts him hammering away at his guitar, and holds an annual memorial at the site -- near Dee Dee Ramone's grave -- in Johnny's honor. (This year the event is on Aug. 19.) Past guests have included Eddie Vedder, Lisa Marie Presley, Nicolas Cage and Pete Yorn. Linda says she curates the event so that it would be a party her husband would want to attend; this year she's showing the 1958 Elvis film King Creole.

Johnny was a massive Elvis fan -- there is an "Elvis room" in the house -- and he differs from traditional punks in some ways. For one thing, he was a diehard conservative and a staunch supporter of Reagan. Further, he was a notoriously frugal man, claiming in his autobiography, Commando, that Linda was the first woman who made him want to spend the money he made with the Ramones. "[Interviewers] would ask [him], 'What's it like being a legend?' " Linda recalls. "I was like, 'You're a legend and we live in a one-bedroom?' "

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