Not terribly surprising when you think about it, but Anthony Bourdain digs Lester Bangs. Cool.
Archive for the ‘Lester’ Category
Posted by s woods on April 23, 2013
Sometime on Friday 30 April 1982, in an apartment somewhere in New York City, Lester Bangs dies. He is found lying on the floor. He is approximately thirty-three-and-a-third years old. He had been suffering from the ‘flu and had been taking Darvon and NyQuil. It was suggested that his immune system was shot due to an over-zealous cleaning-up of his own body following a lifetime of alcohol and speed abuse. But he was taking more than the recommended dose of both these remedies, and in addition had taken quite a bit of valium. There is a record spinning on his stereo, the needle locked in the run-out groove. The record was Dare by the Human League. It has not been specified which side he had been listening to, or what song he was hearing at the point where he may have realised that life was sliding away from him. No one could know; he left no notes, not having planned to die.
I don’t know what he would have made or thought of it…
- Marcello Carlin, reviewing Human League’s Dare on his #1 UK albums blog, brings Lester Bangs, Margaret Thatcher, and Heaven 17 to the table also. (Dare is not a record I continue to play often, but it’s probably one of the half dozen records about which I can accurately say that my initial listen to it was utterly transformative, in that it felt like a break from everything I’d listened to in my life up until then. It wasn’t, of course — nothing ever is — but initially, one Saturday evening in my basement bedroom, it felt anomalous.)
Posted by s woods on March 22, 2013
Everyone’s a rock critic: The lost Lester Bangs radio interview
In 1980, following the release of Blondie, Lester Bangs was interviewed for a radio program called “News Blimp.” A copy of the tape was sent to me anonymously by someone who “fished it out of the garbage.” The interviewer is unknown, and my searches online for “News Blimp” also pulled up nothing. I’ve been advised by someone who was close to Bangs that there’s really no issue with my running it on this site, especially given that the source is a mystery. (And yes, it’s the real deal.)
- Scott Woods, 2001
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Interviewer: First let me ask you if it was difficult writing a biography without the help of the people that you were writing about?
Bangs: You know, in a way it was and in a way it wasn’t because there’s something that happens when you get the collaboration, or the cooperation, of the people you’re working with; all of a sudden you’re on their side, they take you into their confidence and you’re all buddy-buddy, and you’re almost like a recruit to the cause. Whereas if you have absolutely no cooperation at all, then you know that you at least can maintain your objectivity, you know?
Interviewer: Lester, is this the first book you’ve written?
Bangs: Yeah…Well, I wrote a novel in 1968 when I was in junior college called Drug Punk about drinking Romilar cough syrup, but this is the first book I’ve written that’s been published.
Posted by s woods on March 8, 2013
What a few minutes on Google will learn you: I mentioned in a recent post that I wasn’t sure who Sue Matthews was, or what publication (or radio station) her 1980 interview with Bangs was conducted for. Turns out this information has been available online for a few years now, at the website, Cousin Creep, which also includes a transcript of the interview. Which was conducted, btw, for ABC, Radio Australia. (Not, as I embarrassingly assumed, for an English publication; sorry, terrible with any accent which isn’t Southwestern Ontario-flavoured.)
In 2009, Sue Mathews contacted me and informed me the cassette copy I had was the only surviving copy. In recalling the interview, Mathews mentioned: “Lester was a great person to meet, by the way, just as you’d imagine from his writing. A very generous and thoughtful interviewee, with no ego at all. I ran into him in the post office in Chelsea (NY) a year or so later, and we had a coffee nearby – he was that kind of guy”.
And now, remixers — start your engines!
Posted by s woods on March 2, 2013
Lester Bangs interviewed by Sue Matthews, May 1980.
Posted by s woods on February 27, 2013
so many theories of obfuscation.
I’m saying you are bad at context.
I’m saying goodnight
but I’m not dead thank god
and you, dear reader, are.
I mean Lester fucking Bangs…
– from poetry fucking shit life
Posted by s woods on February 6, 2013
I’m almost 30, and although certain elements of my lifestyle have remained as dissolutely constant as in 1971, I have to admit that I’m just not into drinking half a gallon of Gallo Port and listening to Black Sabbath’s first three albums in a row, which is what I did every single night the winter of that year.
- Lester Bangs, “The Roots of Punk Part III,” New Wave Rock, February 1979
Posted by s woods on February 4, 2013
Posted by s woods on January 29, 2013
Devo’s Paradox: Why some art can’t be appreciated in its own time. By Noel Murray, AV Club.
Nearly a year old, this piece, but just discovered today. Akron’s spud boys vs. four seventies rock critics–Christgau, Bangs, Dave Marsh, and Tom Carson–none of whom reserve too many kind words for the band (though of the four, only Marsh seems to out and out despise them). Clearly, Murray is some kind of Devo fan, though in a piece that’s commendable for its evenhandedness, he only overstates the case for them once, I think, with the specious (at best) claim that “today, Are We Not Men? routinely lands on lists of the best and/or most significant albums of all time”–really? I haven’t noticed that at all (it’s possible we’re not looking at the same lists in the same publications). His strongest point, however, is his assertion that, in some instances (particularly, I’d suggest, for a band like Devo, who never lacked for a manifesto) negative criticism actually helps tell a band’s story–it completes, or anyway fills in, the picture they’re trying to create in the first place. Says Murray:
“It’s important to note, though, that the Devo skeptics weren’t ‘wrong’ per se. Devo intended to provoke with its science-fiction mission statements and its emotionless renditions of ’60s party music, so the affronted reactions that the band received from some quarters weren’t just expected, but to some extent, desired. Art and criticism are supposed to be in conversation with each other, and the Devo-haters were just answering the band in the terms its members had established. Marsh in particular makes a persuasive case that Devo is more shallow and disposable than smart. He just fails to be as persuasive when he all but demands that the young people of the late ’70s not take any pleasure in this catchy, exciting music.”
Elsewhere he notes:
“Tom Carson and Robert Christgau’s dismissive, defensive reactions to Devo are part of that band’s story, and now help explain what Devo was and what it meant, circa 1978. Those guys did their jobs–and well, I’d say.”
Funny thing is, I bet Devo agreed with that, too.
Posted by s woods on January 23, 2013
Via Roots 66, a very, very fine picture, this is.
Posted by s woods on January 23, 2013
An interview with Carola Dibbell at Black Clock:
BLACK CLOCK: You wrote rock criticism on and off for thirty years and have spoken before about the leakage between fiction and music writing. Can you explain what you mean by that? What role has music played in your fiction?
CAROLA DIBBELL: In the early seventies, I was surprised and impressed by the rock writing in Dave Marsh’s and Lester Bangs’ Creem, and a little later in the Village Voice music section, edited by Robert Christgau, my husband. In this fledgling and disreputable form, you could be vulgar, personal, amateurish and formally ambitious all at once and actually be read. It gave me a chance to do things with the voice and tone and disorder I was already exploring in fiction that was not actually read. It took longer for me to bring those rock critic elements into my fiction except, I suppose, that writing about pop led me to contemplate genre fiction. Then, in the late nineties, when my fiction was going nowhere, I made a conscious decision to let the rock critic write the fiction, sort of, and the fiction changed a lot.
Posted by A.C. Rhodes on April 30, 2012
Posted by s woods on October 24, 2011
Posted by s woods on October 17, 2011
GROSSMONT COLLEGE (Press Release) — The English Department’s Creative Writing Program will pay tribute to a deceased rock `n’ roll critic and former student as part of its Fall 2011 Reading Series. The third annual Lester Bangs Memorial Reading will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 19 in Building 26, Room 220. Admission is free and the public is invited to attend… Bangs is considered the most famous writer to attend Grossmont College, and is believed to be the only author to actually mention Grossmont College in a piece of internationally published literature. In 2010, Bangs was inducted into Grossmont College’s Walk of Fame, a permanent display of bronze plaques embedded in concrete that feature names of distinguished Grossmont College alumni. The Walk of Fame program, which began in 1989, raises money for educational programs at the college.
Posted by s woods on July 26, 2011
Not something one comes across every day. (Sadly, one of my singles-reviewing heroes, Ken Barnes, is sliced by a scanner.)
Posted by s woods on June 17, 2011
Posted by s woods on June 8, 2011
“A new [now old - ed.] play about gutter rock journalist Lester Bangs, written by Ray McGahan and Paul Doran, charting Bangs’ meteoric rise to the very middle and his glacial slide back to rock bottom.
“Based around some of Bangs’ finest writings, and some of his worst scribbling, Horrible Noise brings to life the mysterious creature behind the collections Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung and Mainlines, Blood Feasts and Bad Taste.” (There’s a terrific flyer for the event here.)
Damn, can a Broadway version of The Aesthetics of Rock be far behind? Where can I audition to play the unknown tongue?
Posted by s woods on November 9, 2009
The RISE and SPRAWL of HORRIBLE NOISE
- Mark Sinker, 2001
“The actual real word for ‘ugliness’ that Excites My Ears is ‘beauty,’ of course. Except I daren’t say this, for fear of ultra-cool avant-hipsters telling me I’m the Culture Industry’s Bitch. So I invoke-invent-insist on some nice squares somewhere to find my beauty ugly, and shore up my shameful pleasures with new undisrupting safer rescue-meanings. What if declaring yourself unfooled, frantically stripping yourself of all possible idiocy, also murders all possible capacity to challenge anything much, yourself, your foes, your world? You see, some passersby don’t even get noticed in the noisewars: not punks, not hippies, not squares, not freaks, just harassed middle-aged working-class women on their way to clean up after someone’s stupid pogo party…. If NOISE is yr god, does this mean noise to ‘them,’ poor trapped prole boobies, or noise to YOU, self-walled up in your aesthetico-political Pigfuck Palace?”