Hey! Is Dee Dee Home?

dir. Kowalski

Opens Fri Nov 14

Clinton Street Theater

Hey! Is Dee Dee Home?, a documentary about Ramones bassist Dee Dee Ramone, is truly one for the archivists. Originally filmed as an interview for director Lech Kowalski's Johnny Thunders movie, the footage primarily consists of Dee Dee tremulously recalling his relationship to Thunders (the glammy, junked-out fashion plate from the New York Dolls and the Heartbreakers). Taken out of context, this range of focus is arbitrary and strange, but not uninteresting--unless, of course, you don't care particularly for the Ramones or the personalities and lore of their era, in which case this documentary is utterly useless.

Dee Dee is captured in this film during one of his lucid periods; he's obviously clean and sober, albeit bearing the long-term stutters and memory loss he earned by spending the better part of his adult life abusing heroin. (Or, as Dee Dee likes to call it, "the dope.") Since a common love of the drug is what mostly brought Dee Dee and Thunders into the same room, much of the film is dedicated to Dee Dee's description of his addiction. This is particularly sad knowing that, despite his apparent health, he would relapse yet again and eventually die of an overdose. One of the documentary's more effective moments is when he expresses a discomfort with being treated by fans and aficionados as some sort of heroin "guru."

Part of what makes this film a supplementary addition to the annals of dedicated bibliophiles, and almost totally irrelevant to anyone else, is the fact that the Ramones are hardly mentioned. There is some time dedicated to the origin of "Chinese Rocks" and one or two flashes of Joey's goofy mug, but otherwise there's very little discussion of music at all. The experience is like bonding with someone after an NA meeting, whose stories are all confused, but who's trying very sweetly to show you his life by explaining each of his tattoos. Your level of interest in this film will be directly correlated to your level of interest in punk history. But it's mostly just a shred of evidence to clip into the punk rock scrapbook.