December 1, 2010


On pages 84–85 of A SOUND SALVATION: ROCK N' ROLL AS A RELIGION, I bring up Los Angeles artist Vicki Berndt because of her tendency to not only paint rock stars in traditionally religious styles (ie., like a Catholic saint or Lord Krishna), but also because she sells ritual items like rosary and votive candles adorned with these hybrid figures. Thus, one could use a rosary displaying a rock star to worship God. Very recently, a new painting appeared for sale in her etsy store that is quite possibly her best one to date.

Titled "Saint Joey", it is the (now deceased) vocalist of the legendary RAMONES, Joey Ramone, pictured as a glorified Catholic saint. Complete with a leather jacket-turned-robe and bottle of rubber cement (Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue), the band logo circles his sacred heart, and the lyrics of the Cretin Hop line his halo. The brick wall behind him is also a masterful touch, as it was the backdrop of their iconic first album as well as Rocket To Russia. The addition to her online store of a brooch with the image is also an instant classic, especially the display image.

Joey Ramone has been ripe for Rock N' Roll beatification since his death on April 15, 2001. It is also interesting because twice in A SOUND SALVATION, I show examples of Joey's glorification through art and advertising—see figures 16 and 18 in the slideshow above as discussed on pages 86–87. Figure 16 is especially noteworthy, as it is a 2005 piece by artist Shepard Fairey that depicts a very similar, yet more subtle Saint Joey. These artists are melding worlds of the sacred and the profane to create a unique image of American religiosity. Joey Ramone is also discussed in A SOUND SALVATION as a liberator-hero on page 52. Obviously Joey and his other RAMONES are in the forefront as one of the bands/artists that are quickly gaining popular acclaim as mythic heroes and are on their way to cultural deification, to join that quickly growing pantheon of Rock N' Roll gods and saints.

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