Certain major news events are reaching their fever pitch point in the United States. Of course the top story is the presidential campaign and other local and federal races. There was the unlikely World Series match between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians, which came to an amazing, dramatic end last night in Game 7 when the Cubs finally won the baseball Fall Classic for the first time in over 100 years. People in New Jersey and New York are watching as the Bridge Gate court case unfolds, an annoying and dirty political slog through the mud involving traffic patterns and petty directives. (Somehow I think this case has not interested any other regions.) Various news stories related to the top two presidential candidates are also playing out, on and on and on.

So minor news stories get but little coverage, especially in an age of hysterics such as one we are living through now. "The Age of Hysterics" or "The Age of Hubris"... most of us are feeling so overwhelmed by the immensity of some of these stories, these events that make the recent past seem prosaic, almost.

But there was a sweet little news story that occurred on Sunday, and I wish to give it more airtime. Over in the Forest Hills neighborhood of Queens, New York City, there was a street renaming or rather, co-naming event that had meaning to music fans and Queens residents, and some other people as well.

At Forest Hills High School, a pretty and almost suburban looking secondary school, the street in front of the school, 67th Avenue at 110th Street, is now also known as "The Ramones Way." The four original members of the seminal, infamous, beloved, both mocked and honored punk rock band, all attended this NYC public high school. They were all marginal students as teens, but they are now among the most famous graduates of this school. The band performed over 2,200 concerts from 1974 to 1996 and had a few charting hits. They were and are highly influential even now, and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. Sadly, all four original members have died (from cancer and other diseases) but the younger brother of Joey Ramone, Mickey Leigh, was among the people who spearheaded a movement to rename the street by their alma mater for the band. And after I am not sure how many years of petitioning for this honor, the street is finally named for the loud and proud band.

I've been a fan of the Ramones since I first heard them in 1977, and saw them in concert 7 or 8 times. I own most of their record albums. They were the subject of a museum exhibit at the Queens Museum this past summer, and I went to see it three times. I met one of the original members, Dee Dee (the bassist) so many years ago, and he signed my tennis sneaker.

And there is also a reason why I write about them for the Jerusalem Post: two members were Jewish. Lead singer Joey Ramone (whose real name was Jeffrey Hyman) and original drummer/producer Tommy Ramone (whose real name was Tamas Erdelyi) were both Jewish. Joey was an American born, assimilated Jewish guy, Tommy's parents survived the Holocaust and came to the US from Hungary. Although neither was typically photographed wearing tefillin or waving Israeli flags, they did not deny their heritage and did pepper some of their songs with references to Jewish life. One song on their second album had the line "Eat kosher salami" and a later song criticized President Ronald Reagan for his visit to Bitburg, Germany. In interviews they did make references to their Judaism occasionally.

They were also not the only Jewish musicians who attended Forest Hill High School. Both Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel did as well, along with Burt Bachrach, punk-rock singer Dave Rubinstein and rock guitarist Leslie West.

So I attended the ceremony, which took place on a sunny Sunday morning. A few hundred fans and media people showed up for the festivities, held in front of the school. A few politicians spoke and honestly, their stilted speeches were dull. Programs were passed out, featuring a photo of the band in their early years. I was surprised to see that the photo used shows the members smiling, which is not typical, believe me. Joey's brother Mickey spoke to the crowd and his heartfelt words were much more interesting than those of the electeds. But overall it was a touching scene and I was glad to have witnessed it. My god-daughter and her younger sister are both graduates of this school, and they were happy that I had attended the ceremony.

I was also glad to be part of a feel-good news event that was not a bitter, partisan pitchfork tirade. Whew.

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