With midlife crises this interesting, who needs Thirtysomething? Too old and crotchety to be a character in his own band’s songs, yet too nimble and smart to take his “Golden Boys of Punk” tour to Vegas, Joey Ramone regenerates his myth by taking his gang of lovably unchanging street geeks through the same old motions with such clocklike regularity that teen rebellion fantasies become as instinctive, and as necessary, as breathing. While the band’s wrinkles have been showing off and on all decade, the new Ramonesmania anthology provides the real payoff: an astonishingly consistent set of cartoon pop miniatures that slam their way through a Hitsville, USA, that never was. (“The KKK Took My Baby Away” almost made the Top 40, until I woke up.) But just as I started picturing a 64-year-old Joey disrupting the entire east wing of the Forest Hills Nursing Home with hoarse shrieks of “One! Two! Three! Four!,” rumors started appearing that this tour would be the band’s last waltz–if they only knew how. Too old and crotchety to roll in peanut butter, yet too smart and nimble to play golf with Bob Hope, Stooge emeritus Iggy Pop finds himself in an even stranger position: playing elder statesman of Anarchy to growing throngs of admirers who can’t decide if they want an entertainer or an apocalypse. Sometime soon, in my mythical future, Brian Wilson will invite Joey and Iggy to join the Beach Boys, Dick Clark’s Dorian Gray painting will fall out of his closet, and suburbia will never look the same. Tonight, 7:30 PM, Aragon Ballroom, 1106 W. Lawrence; 666-6667 or 559-1212.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Monte Melnick.