Inside Pulse's Rocktable of Remarkery (September)

Welcome back to Inside Pulse’s monthly music roundtable feature. We’ve got 5 of the more major/interesting topics from the past month here, along with a group of your favorite Inside Pulse writers, and a special guest reader panelist.

PK – Figures editor, columnist, wrestling contributor
Jeffrey R. Fernandez – Music columnist/contributor
Mathan Erhardt – Music/comics/TV columnist/contributor
Gloomchen – Music columnist/contributor
NY Slayer – Sports editor, columnist/contributor
Jed Shaffer – Wrestling columnist
Michael Lawrence – TV contributor

Special guest panelist
Scott Laffey – retailer/musician, originally from New York

Want to be next month’s guest panelist? Send your comments on this month’s topics to and you could be selected!

Johnny Ramone Dead at 55

Johnny Ramone, guitarist and co-founder of the seminal punk band “The Ramones” that influenced a generation of rockers, has died. He was 55.

Ramone, who had been fighting a five-year battle with prostate cancer, died in his sleep Wednesday afternoon at his Los Angeles home surrounded by friends and family, said the band’s longtime artistic director Arturo Vega.

“He was the guy with a strategy. He was the guy who not only looked after the band’s interest but he also was their defender,” Vega said in a telephone interview from New York.

Ramone, whose birth name is John Cummings, had been hospitalized in June at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Johnny Ramone was one of the original members of the struggling Ramones, whose hit songs “I Wanna Be Sedated” and “Blitzkrieg Bop,” among others, earned them an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.

Johnny Ramone co-founded “The Ramones” in 1974 in New York along with singer Joey Ramone, bassist DeeDee Ramone and drummer Tommy Ramone, who is the only surviving member of the original band. All four band members had different last names, but took the common name Ramone.

Joey Ramone, whose real name is Jeff Hyman, died in 2001 of lymphatic cancer. Dee Dee Ramone, whose real name is Douglas Colvin, died from a drug overdose in 2002.

Clad in leather jackets and long black mops of hair, the group started out in legendary New York clubs like CBGB and Max’s Kansas City, where they blasted their rapid-fire songs.

Since its debut album in 1976, the band struggled for commercial success, but they left a formidable imprint on the rock genre. Though they never had a Top 40 song, the Ramones influenced scores of followers, including bands such as Green Day and Nirvana.

Even Bruce Springsteen was moved. After seeing the Ramones in Asbury Park, N.J., Springsteen wrote “Hungry Heart” for the band. His manager, however, swayed him to keep the song for himself and it became a hit single.

The band had encounters with other big names, including producer Phil Spector, who collaborated with the band in 1980. During the session, the late bassist Dee Dee Ramone said Spector pulled a gun on the band.

“The Ramones had it rough,” said Vega, who’s worked with the band for 30 years. “The band almost had to be protected from people who were taking advantage of them. There was never any money made.”

Johnny Ramone changed that by demanding more money for performances, but still kept a close watch on the band’s budget; Vega recalled how Johnny Ramone would insist that the band drive nonstop between Boston and New York for shows instead of spending the night in a hotel.

In addition to his financial conservatism, the guitarist was politically conservative-the late Ronald Reagan was Ramone’s favorite president, Vega said.

Along with his wife, Linda Cummings, Johnny Ramone was surrounded at his death by friends, including Pearl Jam rocker Eddie Vedder, singer Rob Zombie and others. Other friends who gathered at his Los Angeles home included Lisa Marie Presley, Pete Yorn, Vincent Gallo and Talia Shire.

He is survived by his wife and his mother, Estelle Cummings. He will be cremated during a private ceremony.

(Associated Press)

PK: I wasn’t introduced to The Ramones until my college years…that was 4 years ago. This is a big loss for the Punk Rockers out there for sure.

Fernandez: I love the Ramones. It’s really sad that they’ve all been dying in the past few years. The thing that really caught my attention here, though, is that Phil Spector pulled a gun on the band during one of their collaboration sessions when the two sides had a minor disagreement. I did not know this. This just shows that Phil Spector probably really did shoot that one woman to death. On the other hand, if he’s acquitted, which he more than likely will be, I would really like to see a collaboration betwixt him and Fred Durst. I mean, come on, you put a guy with an obvious anger management problem in a room with one of music’s most obnoxious pieces of shit, and you have yourself some fireworks to rival Victoria Harbor.

Mathan: I’d be lying if I said I was a huge fan, but it seems pretty sad to me. I mean these guys seem to be dropping like flies. Does that say something about the Punk Rock lifestyle? Look at the Beatles; you have to actually kill those guys, yet the Ramones are dying left and right.

I think that we should note how many Ramones died since the rise of Avril Lavigne. Perchance it was their way of allowing us to say ” (fill in the blank) Ramone must be spinning in his grave about this.”

Gloomchen: Another one bites the dust. You know, the rock/punk world needs some sort of karmic balance for this Ramones holocaust. How about a random brain aneurysm for Celine Dion? A massive coronary for Michael Bolton, perhaps?

NY Slayer: The good die younger in this case, middle aged. I’m not big on eulogies and though I always respected the Ramones and am a fan on punk music per se, they just were not a band I personally listened to. But I will say that they are so much more then their three ‘hits’ the radio stations consistently play and it is worth shelling out 20 bucks for a good compilation. You may not love it, but no music lover will be disappointed. If anything can be learned by this, it is that every man over the age of 40 should go get the DRE/PSA exam to make sure they don’t have prostate cancer. It is a very treatable illness when caught early, but if the tumor spreads into the digestive system it can be terminal. The more you know…

Jed: Am I the only one who is frightened at the idea that three of the four Ramones are dead, but somehow, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger are still alive? Or how about Syd Barrett? Or any member of The Dead? I’m getting off-track. There ain’t much you can say about Johnny that hasn’t already been said about Dee Dee and Joey. Legends, all, and in an age with asswipes like Sum 41 and A Simple Plan calling themselves “punk”, he is sorely missed.

Michael Lawrence: I’ve been reading a lot about the supposed “Ramones” curse, and honestly, I don’t see much validity to it. Considering how much drugs these guys probably did, dying at 49 (Joey), 50 (Dee Dee), and now 55 doesn’t seem to tragic. It’s still a little better than your average professional wrestler.

The fact that he was hospitalized since June, also indicates that this wasn’t sudden and out of the blue and I’m at least glad he died in his sleep. If you’ve gotta go…

Scott Laffey: The passing of yet another Ramone just solidifies the notion that true punk rock is gone. When I was finally old enough to get into the CBGB’s club in NYC, The Ramones, Sex Pistols and The New York Dolls had gone. In some sort of blasphemy towards the underground gods, some jackoffs let Everclear and Goo Goo Dolls take their place. Ack! Now we have “commercially accepted punk” coming to your city courtesy of Van’s skate shoes with sticky gum rubber outsoles. “Pop punk” they call it. That’s like saying “unbiased opinion” or “intense apathy.” I hate oxymorons. I do like acronyms though. “Country, Blue Grass, Blues and other music for uplifting gormandizers” if you didn’t know.

Black Sabbath, Van Halen Snubbed by Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame for 2005

Black Sabbath have once again been snubbed by the voting members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The Ozzy Osbourne-fronted band were a glaring omission from the list of the nominees for induction in 2005 in the “artist” category, which were announced earlier today (Sept. 13).

Van Halen, who became eligible in 2003, also have yet to be nominated.

The nominees for the 2005 induction class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame include U2, Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, Randy Newman and the O’Jays.

They are joined on the ballot by the Pretenders, Buddy Guy, Wanda Jackson, The J. Geils Band, Conway Twitty and Percy Sledge.

The Sex Pistols, The Stooges, Lynyard Skynyrd (sic) and the late Gram Parsons were previously nominated but remain on this year’s ballot.

Artists become eligible for induction 25 years after the release of their first record. Criteria considered includes the influence and significance of the artist’s contribution to the development and perpetuation of rock and roll.

The foundation’s nominating committee, composed of rock and roll historians, selects nominees each year in the “artist” category. Ballots are then sent to an international voting body of about 700 rock experts.

Five years ago, Ozzy Osbourne attempted to take Black Sabbath’s name off the Hall of Fame’s 1999 nomination list, deeming the institution’s nod “meaningless.”

In an October 1999 letter to the Hall of Fame, Osbourne said: “Just take our name off the list. Save the ink. Forget about us. The nomination is meaningless, because it’s not voted on by the fans. It’s voted on by the supposed elite for the industry and the media, who’ve never bought an album or concert ticket in their lives, so their vote is irrelevant to me.” He says, “Let’s face it, Black Sabbath has never been media darlings. We’re a people’s band and that suits us just fine.”


PK: Bullshit for sure. Sabbath deserves to be in there this year. No way U2 doesn’t get in.

Fernandez: If Ozzy didn’t want to be in the Hall of Fame, then why does this matter? The real stinker here is that Van Halen got snubbed in favor of J. Geils Band. Okay, there is that abomination that was Van Halen III, and a lot the Sammy material was lackluster, but J. Geils Band? Shit, why not just nominate Suzi Quatro, or maybe Eddie Rabbitt? Hey, my dad used to play in an Eagles cover band in 1980… why don’t they just nominate my dad? In conclusion, I will never be happy until Joy Division gets nominated.

Mathan: Isn’t this just Karma? The Hall of Fame is basically saying “yeah you contributed some really good tunes but what about The Osbournes? and David Lee Roth’s career in the ’90’s?”

Personally I don’t think that Black Sabbath should make it in, if only on the off chance that Kelly Osbourne can make it in on a legacy clause or something. Right on to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for putting their foot down against wackness.

Gloomchen: The R’n’R Hall of Fame nomination/awards process plays out like bad Internet drama. “He’s the coolest!” “Nuh-uh, HE’S the coolest!” “Well I don’t want to be part of your cool club anyway, I’m going home.” Sorry, they’re all legends regardless of who gets officially stapled inside of a building. No trophy, plaque, or award will ever change influence; neither will bickering, arguing, or taking your ball and going home. I don’t care about any of this and neither should you.

NY Slayer: Let’s not forget Blondie! She was a pioneer in the CBGBs punk scene and brought rap to a wide audience. But you know what, heck to the hall of fame. HECK with it I say. I mean it really is the most ridiculous concept I’ve ever heard of in my life. Who the hell cares about some silly building in Cleveland? Who cares what ‘music historians’ think? Does anyone have any desire to visit it? You know what, Van Halen should start a Hard Rock Hall of Fame in Los Angeles, Black Sabbath should start a Heavy Metal Hall of Fame in Tampa and Blondie should start a New Age Punk Hall of Fame in New York. There we go, we’re settled. Fight hypocrisy with more hypocrisy!

Jed: I’ve been to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall Of Fame. Let me tell ya, it’s kinda odd. Rock ‘n’ roll started off as a rebellious form of music, spitting in the Glen Millers and Lawrence Welks of the world. Now, with lucrative corporate tie-ins and sponsorships and all that, rock ‘n’ roll seems kind of…bleh. So to see the Hall Of Fame snub two of the bands that (until recently) have lived up to the rebellious nature of the art form’s roots is, to say the least, ironic. Then again, considering Conway-f*cking-Twitty is on the ballot, is this really an honor anymore? I mean, how far away are we from A Flock Of Seagulls getting a nomination?

Michael Lawrence: If Ozzy wants the band of the list, then this is a victory, isn’t it? The guy said take us off, and now people are calling the exclusion a snub? Yeesh, get over it. The Hall needs to snub some bands every once in a while anyway. Not everyone is worthy to be put in the Hall of Fame. Like Van Halen for instance. They’ve been too inconsistent, and just awesomely bad for the better part of their careers. Personally, I would love it if they inducted David Lee Roth into the Hall as a solo artist. I really don’t think Diamond Dave should be there either, but man would it be funny to see how livid his former bandmates would be. What really scares me is when the hair bands become eligible.

Scott Laffey: Fucking travesty. Black Sabbath literally created their own genre. While everyone else was going to San Francisco to pick flowers, these blokes were singing about the darkness that surrounded the rest of us. From Ozzy’s haunting lyrics and wailing vocals… to Tony’s doomsday riffs… they were goth before goth was invented. I can think of no metal band that doesn’t site Sabbath as their greatest influence. Who the hell ever says ‘Percy Sledge made me want to get into music?’

Then you have Eddie Van Halen, who brought out finger tapping and influenced the guitar playing world. Diamond Dave inspired every hairband front man that ever wore animal striped spandex. But wait… they never wrote anything as ingenious as ‘My angel is the centerfold…’ or ‘Short people got no reason to smile…’

The Former Cat Stevens Denied Admission into the U.S.

A plane bound for Washington from London was diverted to Maine on Tuesday after passenger Yusuf Islam-formerly known as pop singer Cat Stevens-showed up on a U.S. watch list, federal officials said.

United Airlines Flight 919 had already taken off from London en route to Dulles International Airport when the match was made between the passenger and the watch list, said Nico Melendez, a spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration.

The plane was met by federal agents at Maine’s Bangor International Airport around 3 p.m., Melendez said.

Federal officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, identified the individual as Islam.

One official said Islam, 56, was identified by the Advanced Passenger Information System, which requires airlines to send passenger information to U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s National Targeting Center. TSA was then contacted and requested that the plane land at the nearest airport, the official said.

“He was interviewed and denied admission to the United States on national security grounds,” said Homeland Security spokesman Dennis Murphy. He said the man would be put on the first available flight out of the country Wednesday.

Islam, who was born Stephen Georgiou, took Cat Stevens as a stage name and had a string of hits in the 1960s and ’70s, including “Wild World” and “Morning Has Broken.” Last year he released two songs, including a re-recording of his ’70s hit “Peace Train,” to express his opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

He abandoned his music career in the late 1970s and changed his name after being persuaded by orthodox Muslim teachers that his lifestyle was forbidden by Islamic law. He later became a teacher and an advocate for his religion, founding a Muslim school in London in 1983.

Islam recently condemned the school seizure by militants in Beslan, Russia, earlier this month that left more than 300 dead, nearly half of them children.

In a statement on his Web site, he wrote, “Crimes against innocent bystanders taken hostage in any circumstance have no foundation whatsoever in the life of Islam and the model example of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.”

(The Associated Press)

PK: Just another case of stereotyping. I really don’t understand how some people just can’t accept it.

Fernandez: Does Cat Stevens have ties to terrorists? More than likely not, but the disturbing part is that plenty of other non-famous people out there that really have donated large sums of money to these radical Islamic fundamentalist goons, or are part of these groups, are still making it into the country. In the meantime, the evidence tying Cat Stevens to anything of the sort is sketchy at best, and the Department of Homeland Security is out to get Elliot Smilowitz. No, really, they are. Just ask him.

Mathan: My mom loved Cat Stevens. I can’t hear a Cat Stevens song without childhood memories flooding into my brain. I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for the guy.

So what if the guy funded terrorism? Remember those commercials alleging that drug use funds terrorism? I think that it’s safe to say that everyone has experimented with funding terrorism, at least during college.

You know you’re at a party, everyone is hanging out. Some guy walks up to you and asks if you want to fund some terrorist activities. In your heart you don’t really want to, but you think “maybe if I fund just one little terrorist operation that cute girl from Bio will hook up with me.” The next thing you know it’s five years later and the media has dubbed you “American Taliban.” Who hasn’t been there?

I think that they should have let him come over, if only to slap Dolly Parton for ruining “Peace Train.” If Cat Stevens can’t enter into the United States, then the terrorists have truly won.

Gloomchen: Cat, you idiot, you’ve been lambasting the US for years and are surprised that the Land of Terrorist Paranoia doesn’t open its doors to you? Hell, let’s disregard the terrorist alerts. Ever hear of John Lennon?

NY Slayer: Sign of the times, I guess. If you’re openly Muslim, your every move is being watched as is the government’s right protected by the Patriot Act. As for ole Cat, he was a good musician, and good musicians have a knack of becoming religious. They do lots of drugs, have sex with lots of girls, have sex with a few guys, spawn 10 illegitimate children, etc. they realize their life is a mess and they need a strict regiment to control themselves physically and emotionally. Enter religion. Trivia: Did you know he was David Mustaine’s biggest artistic mentor? Very similar life stories too. Except Dave still plays music, does drugs, and whines like a bitch.

Jed: An odd story. Nothing I give a shit about. If he’s got terrorist ties and supports terrorist nations, f*ck ’em. If he’s truly a peaceful, quiet dude, let him in. But this is hardly worthy of the major news networks devoting national evening news broadcast time to the story.

Michael Lawrence: You know what I like about Cat Stevens? Unlike all these other celebrities that “found religion”, Cat Stevens actually did and I respect that. It’s not a sham like Britney’s Kabbalah, or Cruise’s Scientology. Stevens is the real deal. All that aside, this makes us look really bad, and I think it’s a disgusting shame the way we treat and view Muslims in this country. Was this guy ever a threat? We have to protect ourselves as a country, but freakin’ Cat Stevens? What a revoltin’ embarrassment.

Scott Laffey: Haahahahahaaa. Good. Keep this f*cker out. Not because of an over-paranoid mistrust of anyone who embraces Islam. I just didn’t like “Wild World.”

Rappers Required to Pay for All Sampling

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that rap artists should pay for every musical sample included in their work-even minor, unrecognizable snippets of music.

Lower courts had already ruled that artists must pay when they sample another artists’ work. But it has been legal to use musical snippets-a note here, a chord there-as long as it wasn’t identifiable.

The decision by a three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati gets rid of that distinction. The court said federal laws aimed at stopping piracy of recordings applies to digital sampling.

“If you cannot pirate the whole sound recording, can you ‘lift’ or ‘sample’ something less than the whole? Our answer to that question is in the negative,” the court said.

“Get a license or do not sample. We do not see this as stifling creativity in any significant way.”

(The Associated Press)

PK: Good, now get people to buy CDs and we will be set.

Fernandez: I was never against the paying of royalties for samples, whether they are obvious ones or more obscure or chopped-up ones. I assume that this includes electronic/dance artists as well as “rappers.” I know that if I were some long-forgotten musician that has been reduced to living in a bungalow and eating macaroni and cheese and ramen every day (see, for example, Just Brothers, who performed “Sliced Tomatoes,” and Camille Yarbrough, who performed “Take Yo’ Praise”), that I’d be pretty annoyed if Fatboy Slim was making millions of dollars by chopping up my composition and putting it on an eight-minute continuous loop while I have to buy everything at Aldi in order to afford my mortgage.

Mathan: Phew, for a second I thought they were talking about producers.

Oh wait. So does this mean that The Dust Brothers and DJ Shadow are off the hook? How about those rock bands with DJ’s? Or is this just a Rap thing.

Dis is justa nutha skam perpetrated by “Da Man” to keep a Brutha down.

Gloomchen: What if someone takes a sample of something that was taken from a sample taken from a sample? Let’s line up two mirrors and see what sort of endless tunnel we can create! My head hurts.

NY Slayer: I believe this is completely a blow against art and the right to express oneself, but I don’t mind all this stuff. The more music becomes legislated by the courts and record labels, the more underground music will get. And yes, underground music is BETTER than mainstream. Both can be equally fun, but let’s call a spade a spade. Now to hip-hop, we got a problem. This genre has not had an underground/grass roots/local scene in about 20 years. It’s about selling your music and making money. Maybe this will change that a bit. With that said, I think this will hurt the independent MC’s and mixers; but they usually stay off the corporate radar anyway. I don’t think Metallica is hunting ZRX for sampling Ride the Lightning. Then again, maybe they are?

Jed: So what’s being said here is that P-Diddy won’t have a career anymore, right? It only makes sense: if an artist can’t make money off doing a cover, what’s the difference between that and a sample?

Michael Lawrence: YES!! YES!! YES!! Finally they’re cracking down on the worst kind of music thievery and I love it! Write your own freaking music. Samples in the rarest of occasions can be used effectively, but usually it screams of unoriginality, something the music industry has in spades these days.

Scott Laffey: To think you can “borrow” a part of any piece of art and call it your own without giving the originator anything you might reap from it… well, you’re just f*cking loony. Most songs that sample wouldn’t be hits had they not had a recognizable loop embedded in them anyway.

Sinead O’Connor Pleads with Public to Leave Her Alone

Sinead O’Connor asked the media to leave her alone by taking out a full-page ad in today’s (Sept. 28) edition of the Irish Examiner. The singer, who said last year she was retiring from the music business, was responding to an article written earlier this week about her “latest wacky” campaign to rid the country of head lice.

“I have been the whipping post of Ireland’s media for 20 years,” wrote O’Connor, who once said she was a lesbian, married a man shortly afterward and unleashed a flood of criticism when she ripped up a photo of the Pope on Saturday Night Live.

“And what have I done to deserve these lashings? I have not behaved the way a woman is supposed to behave,” she said in the ad, which runs to more than 2,000 words. “If ye think I am so ridiculous why do ye give me any attention?”

O’Connor said she used her singing as a way to cope with a traumatic childhood and abusive mother and appealed for people’s understanding. “Before God let me swear to you that if I or any of us were to tell you what we went through this country would cry for a month,” she said. “To know that my brothers and sister survived, makes me proud of us all.”

O’Connor, ordained as a priest by the leader of a quasi-Catholic religious sect in Ireland, said she wanted to be left alone to “sing and work and try to just do some good in this world.”

“Please, I just want to be a little old lady now, and not be all controversial and not be bashed and called crazy and laughed at when I open my mouth to sing or speak.”


PK: Who the hell is still bothering her? C’mon, you have like 6 fans remaining, sign a few autographs for them.

Fernandez: Who still cares about Sinead O’Connor? More importantly, have I ever said that 50 Cent looks like Sinead O’Connor? I haven’t? Well, I suppose I have inadvertently appeased her, but in actuality, I just haven’t gotten to the point yet where I’ve run out of ideas and had to resort to saying that 50 Cent looks like Sinead O’Connor. He actually happens to look like Teeny Little Superguy.

Mathan: Head lice is a serious issue. Everyone yammers on and on about AIDS and WMD’s. But what is an epidemic in every grade school in the US of A (and even more so in the rural South)? Head Lice.

Have you ever had to hear the shrieks of a child who has been told that cooties actually exist, and they’ve laid eggs in her hair? And how about that boy who has to get his head shaved to rid himself of a nasty parasite? It’s some pretty horrific stuff.

You can turn on TV and see commercials with third world kids sporting flies on their lips. You can shoo a fly away, but head lice are a tad more resilient.

She decides to take a stand against head lice, and people call her crazy. Where do the two Presidential hopefuls stand on the issue of Head lice, or as I like to call it “America’s Silent Follicle Parasite?” I commend her for her actions.

Gloomchen: Shut up about your childhood trauma. That’s no excuse for being a loon. The rest of the universe full of messed-up folks tries this thing called “therapy.” Perhaps you should give it a shot before you publicly take out all of your aggression on hair critters (who, by the way, react much more strongly to ‘medication’ than ‘tirades’).

NY Slayer: Remember that thing on SNL when she ripped up a picture of the pope? People FLIPPED! Listen, I think it was obnoxious too, but that really had more to do about the Roman Catholic Church ignoring Irish poverty and you know what, she had a point. But this is a nation full of Protestants and strict Roman Catholics, so it didn’t go over too well. And as one who is neither, well “my name is Paul and this between You’all.” As for leaving her alone, as a religious person herself, she should understand that you reap what you sew. I’m sorry your mom was a bitch, but instead of using your past experience as a pillar of strength to help other people in the same predicament, you exploited it because you wanted everybody to feel sorry for you. *coughcougheminemcough*. Oh well.

Jed: I think I can manage that.

Michael Lawrence: Yeah, that makes sense. Tell people to stop giving you attention by PLACING A ONE PAGE AD IN A NEWSPAPER. What a moron. Hey Sinead, come over here to the US. We’ve been ignoring you for over ten years.

Scott Laffey: I’m guessing Fuzzy is Ireland’s equivalent to the U.S.’s Jacko. I say leave her the hell alone. Truth is though, if she really wanted to be left to rot in solitude, she wouldn’t have taken any 2,000 word ads out. Just like on her SNL stunt, she craves the attention. “My mommy beat me, I’m a priest, I’m a lesbian, I’m a lesbian priest, OK… I’m not a lesbian today… but I hate the Pope…” Just shut up and crawl back to your hole.