LOS ANGELES – Dee Dee Ramone once sang that he didn’t want to be ‘buried in a pet graveyard’, but now the grave of the Ramones’ founding member and bassist has become a true wildlife sanctuary at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
It all started at the start of the pandemic when Pleasant Gehman and Coyote Shivers began feeding a small group of black ducks, which they dubbed the Ramones, after the iconic punk rock band. Then the word spread throughout the avian community, and now the daily feedings are like a mallard duck mosh pit.
âOne day there were tons of them, so the number of birds we have is constantly changing,â Gehman said.
A big fan of the Ramones, Pleasant has been coming to Hollywood Forever Cemetery since the 1970s, visiting Dee Dee Ramone’s grave since her death in 2002. These days, she comes daily with her partner Coyote Shivers for food and health. feast with the birds whose numbers are increasing. .
âBasically it went from five to anywhere between 35 and a hundred a day,â Gehman explained.
But it’s not just the ducks that come. The cemetery is home to a surprising amount and variety of winged wildlife, including swans, peacocks, geese, and even resident wild cats participating in the free buffet.
Gehman said coming to the cemetery had been therapeutic for her, especially during the pandemic.
âIf you’re sad or, you know, full of anxiety, like you were in the summer of 2020, it was like an instant mood change,â she said.
And to ring the duck dinner bell, the team created a cover of the Ramones’ âBlitzkrieg Bopâ called âDuckskrieg Bopâ with the âHey! Ho! Let’s go! âChorus now sung in the sampled quacks of the birds themselves.
Gehman said the main voice was that of a duck they nicknamed “Loudmouth” because its quacks can be heard clearly across the graveyard.
Shivers blasts his duck punk anthem through a portable bluetooth speaker that causes the birds to waddle almost immediately.
âMy theory was that if I heard that there was a party on the street, I might be interested in checking out,â Shivers explained. “But if I heard that there was a party in the street and I could hear all of my friends there, I would definitely go see it.”
Shivers said he probably gets more joy from it than the ducks, and hopes he and Gehman have started a new tradition in LA that can be passed down from generation to generation.
âLike, you know, 50 years from now there are kids and everyone, and I’ve been gone a long time, but the joy of watching the ducks walking towards Dee Dee every day continues. I would love to see that,â he said. Shivers said with a smile.
And although Gehman and Shivers have been involved in many types of creative projects over the years, Gehman said, “Coyote and I agree that this is probably the best thing we’ve ever done.”
The Ramones Ducks exploded Social media and although Gehman and Shivers fund their business mostly out of their own pockets, for them it’s a small price to pay for such joy, and as Shivers said, the Ramones and the Ducks togetherâ¦ what could be better?