Lisa Jane Persky

Lisa Jane Persky is Editor-at-Large of the Los Angeles Review of Books. She was an early participant in the CBGB scene and a founding photographer/writer of the New York Rocker--the Blondie song “(I‘m Always Touched by Your) Presence, Dear” was written for her. Her journalism and photography has appeared in Mojo, Q, Uncut, The Los Angeles Times and Fortean Times; her fiction has appeared in Bomb and has been anthologized in Eclectica: Best Fiction Vol. One.



"58th & 5th: My Dream Date With The Ramones"

On July 8th, 1976, I took the subway up to 745 5th Avenue--the offices of 16 Magazine--to interview the Ramones, whose first album had just been released. I was an early part of the CBGB's scene--a Greenwich Village kid who'd read poetry at the club before Hilly Kristal began booking rock bands--and had seen the group play many times since their debut in 1974. By 1976, I was co-starring with Divine in the off-off-Broadway hit Women Behind Bars, dating Blondie's bass player and a co-founder (with my friends Alan Betrock and Craig Gholson) of the New York Rocker.

When I sat down with the Ramones for NYR’s Issue #4, it was not as an adversarial journalist, but as a girl they knew from the neighborhood. As a result, our encounter--which took place in Danny Fields' office but without his presence--yielded what is likely the most relaxed and revealing interview the band ever gave. I recently re-discovered the cassette of our conversation--I hadn’t listened to it since ’76 and no one else had ever heard it—and was struck by our collective naivete; none of us knew how to do this. We’d barely begun the process of inventing our public selves so we just sat around and talked.

Not long afterwards, things would get professional: there were publicists and record companies and personal dysfunction that would haunt the group for the rest of its existence. But that afternoon, we were just a bunch of kids hanging out uptown. I'll be talking about what that long-vanished New York of 1976 felt like, and playing some choice excerpts from the interview for the very first time.

My Speakers Sessions

Friday, March 23

2:15pm EDT