The first indication is the house I am standing in front of. It is pink: a bright, unapologetic, screaming, pepto-bismol pink. With prairie green roof and window trimmings, candy canes planted on the front lawn and life size figurines depicting the Nativity of Jesus in the driveway. Part of me wishes it were dark. Then I would be able to see all these Christmas decorations in their intended luster of insanity. Mind you, the holidays have come and gone – it is January – but something tells me there is more at stake here than a mere tribute to Santa. This is the work of a fanatic enthusiast who dreams of December in August, and pines for snow in Sherman Oaks.
The buzzer sounds just like mine at home in Brooklyn. It’s a comforting little ring, but all familiarity vanishes as soon as I step into the garden. It’s so many kinds of fantastic and overwhelming. First of all it’s strange to see toy soldiers, reindeer, snowmen and penguins propped up against palm trees and a kidney shaped, aqua blue pool. They must feel like most New Yorkers do when visiting Los Angeles: lost in translation. Then there’s all the hummingbirds motoring around the sugar water feeders. They’re almost invisible but their buzzing frenzy resonates throughout the entire yard. I’d be content to just sit and watch the spectacle in awe, were it not for the happy “Hello!” and bowl-cut framed smiling face greeting me by the front door. “I’m Linda Ramone! How are you?”
It’s extraordinary how tightly she’s held on to her Queens accent, even after living in Los Angeles for nearly twenty years. Maybe it’s another way of keeping her late husband, Johnny Ramone‘s legacy alive. Never mind the hundreds of concert pictures on the walls, or the themed rooms they designed together (there is a Disney bathroom, a horror media room, a Rock ‘n Roll bedroom, an Elvis foyer and a Nancy Sinatra living room), or the Johnny Ramone Tribute she organizes at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery annually – “Last year I had over 3000 people!” Linda Ramone lives and breathes his heritage as he intended it when they packed up and moved out West: “Out there having fun in the warm California sun”. She even cuts other people’s hair like his I hear.
“How about three?” she challenges me. You have to understand that Linda yells rather than speak, as if you’re in the next room and she needs to get her point across. Her voice is high and pitchy and she finishes every sentence with a raspy, mischievous giggle. You can’t but listen, really. “I can just hold up the clothes against my body, instead of putting them on. Seven outfits is a bit much I think.” I mean, she’s right. One look at her pink and turquoise brocade outfit today is enough to understand her Barbarella-meets-mod-meets-CBGB’s aptitude. However, I think, with this much vintage under one roof, why not flaunt it? “I dress up every morning,” she finally agrees. “And it takes me about an hour [to get ready]. A typical day involves metallics, velvets, tiaras, hats, boots, vintage furs, matching pocketbooks and shades.” Even when you’re sick or sad, I ask incredulously?! “Then I just wear a caftan with matching scarf and slippers.”
Though she works every day as the President of Ramones Productions, Linda’s life is sunny and less than cumbersome. She never had kids -“Apparently they are so much work!” – but she drives a brand new Porsche, travels to Rome as often as she can, loves “fine dining and road trips”, buys custom leather pieces from Romulus at South Paradiso Leather, enjoys the company of a big, one-eyed cat named Munchkin whom she and Johnny adopted after she was thrown off a roof, and dates a gorgeous, young musician who reminds me of Johnny. “Pookie!” she sings proudly when she leads me to his studio, slash magical man cave. “Last year he released a great record called The Olms with Pete Yorn. At the moment he’s working on a new record completely on tape that he produces himself.” JD knows he’s being summoned for a picture because he follows us up to his rainbow rooftop without a word. They look so freaking good together I want to scream! And just like that, with my new Ramones T-shirt in hand and hundreds of incredible pictures on my memory card, I have my final indication, that this here pink bubble is bliss.