|Chapter 7. TRACKS – Night of the Rat
This is how we got back into the Rat. As the winter of ’76 reluctantly lost its chill, the Ramones were coming back to town, but this time the papers announced they’d be playing not The Club in Cambridge where they made their Boston premier the previous summer, but at the Rat in colorful Kenmore Square. If you’ve been paying attention to this brief history (which now seems to be taking on Biblical proportions) you already know that Lorry Doll and Jeff Rey had been cast out and banished from that Eden of Punkdom halfway through the first Tracks gig in August of ’76. Our exile for being naughty meant not only that we had to gig elsewhere (basically The Club and whatever other stray venue popped up), but also that we were denied entrance to the place that was beginning to book almost all the cool acts that came to town. We had seen some great shows at The Club, but like the Ramones, most bands were choosing the Rat for the second go-round through Boston.
“Damn,” I said, looking up from the Ramones' ad in The Real Paper, “Sure would’ve liked to seen them again.”
“We’re going,” Lorry announced in an eerily even voice I was familiar with. It was a simple statement of undeniable fact. The sun rises. The moon sets. The tides flow. We’re going. It’s all the same and I was scared.
“But, Lorry,” I began in a plea for common sense.
“We are going!”
|We came up with a game plan. Sort of. We’d disguise ourselves and slip into the Rat unnoticed. We tore into our closet and frantically pulled out the opposite of our usual simple black and white apparel. Silvery platform shoes, tie-died bellbottoms of velvet and satin, rich fabrics that sparkled and changed color. Silk scarves, feathered boas and foppish hats. In a frenzy, we dressed each other in the regalia of our wild glam nights at the Other Side. We lavishly decorated our faces with grease paints and popped a bottle of Cold Duck to celebrate our cleverness. And while we both were certainly visions of beauty that rivaled Ziggy Stardust and the New York Dolls combined, when our high waned it was pretty obvious we wouldn’t be going into the Rat unnoticed.
In the end we went to the Rat as the current version of ourselves. That is to say – Tracks. Lorry was calm and determined. I still had visions of the last time we were there and how we had escaped not untouched, but miraculously still intact. We waited in line and finally descended down the long and dark stairway. Shrewd businessmen, the Ramones always had their own guy at the door to keep things straight, next to him was one of the Rat’s bouncers. And next to him was himself, Jim Harold, looking even more imposing then I remembered. Jim looked at us. I thought I saw a slight start in his eyes that quickly disappeared. Lorry broke from the line and went up to him, immediately launching into her innocent and naïve little girl voice.
|“I know I wasn’t ever, never supposed to come back here, but the Ramones are my favorite band. Could you let us go in? Pleeease?”
Jim chuckled (Chuckled!?). His voice was that of an admonishing yet understanding father. “Lorry, I never said you couldn’t come to my club. I just said you couldn’t play here. I can’t let you in ‘cause of my deal with the band, but if you want to pay admission have a good time.” And it was as simple as that.
Everybody who was anybody on the new music scene was at the show, quite a few of them shocked to see me and Lorry inside the Rat again. The Ramones were great and Lorry took a bunch of snapshots, but the first time is always the best and the band seemed to have lost some of its hard edge to showmanship. The price paid for success I guess.
As we left, Lorry spied Jim at the door again. This time, she reverted back to her tough chick persona.
“So. You think we’ll ever play here again or what?”
Jim shook his head in feigned exasperation. “Give me a call, Lorry.”
|“W-What?!” Jim stammered, his composure finally broken.
“I don’t eat donuts and I’m not going down and up those stairs again. But I’m buying if you want ‘em.”
He sent one of his guys off for the donuts. We were back playing at the Rat within two weeks.
From what I saw and heard, not too many musicians got along with Jim Harold and we certainly had our share of rough times with him as you’ll read in these pages. But I think we were always straight with each other and shared a mutual respect. Maybe more than that. We stayed in contact with him after we moved to New York and he treated us to his box at Fenway Park for a couple Red Sox games when we were back in town. Even if we didn’t like the results, I never knew him to make a decision that didn’t make rational sense. What more can you ask for in a business or any relationship?
|Tracks..the Wild Ones|
|Photos this page - Frank Gerace|
|I wasn’t a witness to the next part of this story, but Lorry told me what happened in such vivid detail, I could swear I was. Knowing I would probably analyze the situation to a ridiculous extent before any decision was made on our next move, Lorry went to the Rat on her own the next morning. She stopped to get coffee for the two of them, climbed the stairs to his office, walked in unannounced, then handed him a cup and plunked her butt down on the chair across from his desk. Jim quickly recovered from the unexpected intrusion and sarcastically asked, “No donuts?”
“Send one of your cunt buddies,” she replied without skipping a beat, looking at the two ever-present bulked up bouncers who were hanging out in the room. Jim turned red beyond red.
“My treat,” Lorry added with a winning smile, pulling a couple bills from the pocket of her jeans.