Oh No! Even More Blurt-mail!!

Correspondence from Readers, Page Four




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Let it Blurt
Thu, 28 Dec 2000 07:18:53 -0800
From:  "George Kopp"

Hi Jim,

I grew up in Birmingham. Even had pizza at Pasquale's. Saw the movie "Almost
Famous" and the the character Phillip Seymour Hoffman played, Lester Bangs.
I read Creem magazine, but wasn't as say a devout Lester follower. Looking
back on it I read the reviews superfically. If it sounded good on the radio
I bought the album.

On a whim my wife bought your book for me for Christmas. I must say I really
enjoyed your book.

George Kopp

P.S. If you are going to do "time" in Detroit. Birmingham isn't a bad place
to do it.


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Subject: thanks
Date: Sat, 16 Dec 2000 03:51:48 -0500
"Erica Basnicki"

Hi Jim
I don't know, you don't know me, but I just finished reading "Let it Blurt" and absolutely LOVED IT.
I'ma 20 year old University student in Toronto, Canada, absolutely obsessed with all facets of "rock
'n roll" and your book is a definite highlight in my collection. Congratulations. If Lester was alive, I'm
sure he'd be really moved.
Erica Basnicki

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Subj: i'm almost finished with _let it blurt_!
Date: 12/13/00 8:40:52 PM Central Standard Time
From: pxe2000@yahoo.com (pixellated pixie)
Reply-to: tugboat@channel1.com
To: JimDeRo@aol.com

hi jim, this is chelsea -- i emailed you a few weeks
back about the short story "dori bangs". i finally
broke down and purchased _let it blurt_ because it's
the end of the semester and i needed something new to
read, something that had nothing to do with the
classes i'm taking this semester. since i just
transferred to a new school this fall it's been pretty
intense and i haven't had a chance to explore a lot of
things i'm interested in. and, of course, when school
started i found myself developing new interests that
weren't covered in the curriculum, and while i'm
thrilled to be studying film and other things, i've
been chomping at the bit to look into other areas
since the beginning of the semester.

from a purely objective standpoint, _let it blurt_ is
amazing. you do an excellent job trying to cover all
the different facets of a notoriously difficult
subject, and you clearly have a great deal of love for
your subject. although you didn't want to make the
story a tragedy, i couldn't help but feel a pang of
sadness at the close of the book (i have yet to read
"how to be a rock critic") -- i kept wondering "is
that all there is? what would have happened if he
lived? there was so much left for him to accomplish!,
etc", but i also realised he wasn't able to come to
terms with his demons and needed the kind of clean
slate that this life couldn't give him. sad to say,
but as much as i mourn all the things lester didn't or
couldn't accomplish, i also feel like his death was in
some ways inevitable, that he'd accomplished all he
could within these parameters and that there was no
other point but out.

however, every work of art is 50% the art itself and
50% what the reader brings to the table and how she
(in this case) sees it. i bring some heavy baggage to
the ballad of lester bangs in general, and at this
point in particular. i'm a somewhat angry person and
much of that anger has really been affecting much of
my actions lately, and i'm not proud of this fact.
lester's evangelical fervour for the music he loves
attracts me because, like him, my musical talent is
negligable but my love for music is all-encompassing,
but his life is so incredibly sad in some ways...i'm
afraid of becoming him, sort of, because i can see how
i make stupid decisions in my anger and how i sort of
advertise that i'm making stupid decisions. and i
don't want to be so wasteful.

i'm sorry to drop all this on you. (it's probably
none of your business.) if nothing else, the book may
end up being a catalyst that makes me pull my head out
of my ass. :)

so: thanks.



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Subj: More omissions.
Date: 12/10/00 9:19:35 AM Central Standard Time
From: Black2com
To: JimDeRo
Sent on: 6.0 sub 171

Since we last writ, I believe I found two more. First is from Bedloe's Island (no cover date...I assume it's from late 1972), which printed in its "poetry corner" the words to Lester Bangs' "Barricuda (sic) Anthem" ("Hey Motherfucker"). The notes state that these were "from the days he was practicing so ESP would sign him up." The other is the liner notes to Suicide's Half Alive tape, or did you mention that?-CS


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Subject:  lester bangs bibliography omission
Date: Mon, 4 Dec 2000 20:45:33 EST
From: Black2com@aol.com
To: jimdero@earthlink.net

Although I may be too late in telling you and perhaps this maybe be snuggled
somewhere in the bib. in the back of let it blurt, here's an article I don't
recall seeing..."White Light/White Bonusburgers" in Teenage Wasteland Gazette
vol. 2 #12. I think the date is sometime 1973 if that's any help, and the
piece was a rundown of fast food chains. Not surprisingly, the spirit
duplication was pretty much milked by the second page of the piece making my
copy rather difficult to follow.-CS


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Subj: [Fwd: Black47eNews]
Date: 12/5/00 9:47:01 AM Central Standard Time
From: bigrafx@home.com (Barbara & Bob Ingalls)

Funny how Lester Bangs' name comes up so much lately. I wasn't one of
best friends, by a long shot, but we were drinking buddies back in those
and wooly days in the Bells of Hell on 13th Street. I understand he's a

character in the movie Almost Famous and Jim DeRogatis has written a
biography called Let It Blurt. One of you, Pam, was good enough to
send me
a copy of Jim's book and, while I found it truthful and pretty much on
mark, still I stopped reading after a chapter or two. To tell you the
I didn't want anyone else's impressions making a mark on my own

And Lester was one of those people who left an indelible mark. The
thing is, I can't even remember meeting him. He was just one of a cast
great characters who inhabited (and I use that word in its truest sense)
Bells. He was well known by the time I met him, at least in music
Even in those days, he was recognized as the finest writer on rock music
his generation. Of course, from today's perspective, Lester was a
certifiable lunatic. He eked out a living, writing very long and
pieces for the Village Voice. He didn't give a godamn about money,
when he had none) prospects or the state of various stock markets. Talk

about road to ruin! Lester was hell bent down that one.

In my memory, his three closest friends were also critics - Billy
John Morthland and Nick Tosches. They are all fine writers and I hope
tell their sides of the Lester story someday. I suppose it was Lester's

balls to the wall passion and utter conviction that set him apart. The
lived music and judged the world through its prism. There was a right
there was a wrong and that was all that there was to it!

I shared a number of passions with Lester but the only one that you need
about was the longing to let the night never end. The era was the late
pre-Reagan, pre-AIDs, pre-guilt about having no money. I was a member
of the
house band in the Bells and was generally allowed to drink free or as
free as made no difference. I'm not sure what Lester's drinking
was but regulars were never turned away, from the Bells, thirsty. In
our own
minds, we were all one check away from greatness or, at least, temporary

solvency. Many times Lester and I repaired to his apartment - up a few

blocks on 6th Avenue. One odd thing about him, he would never go to my
favorite after-hours, The Kiwi over on 9th and A. Lester was
conservative in
that regard, he liked to be within striking distance, or perhaps
distance of home.

He was a great man to argue with. We were all mad about music in those
I couldn't give a fiddler's for much of it now. I wonder would Lester?

But, he did back then and therefore, he was, in my view, fair game. His

columns in the Voice were provocative and incendiary and if one
well then there was Lester slouched over the bar, a veritable sitting
after you had downed a half-dozen Heinekens.

He had lived in Detroit and had seen much of Bob Seger in his early
including a period when Bob had given up rock and turned to an Astral
type Van Morrison phase. Astral Weeks has always been my favorite
album, so
I was fascinated by the turnaround of this Motor City Rocker. When
released his second successful album - its name I no longer remember -
ripped him to shreds in the Voice. In my drunken truculence, I berated
Lester for this, reminding him that he had told me of all Seger's
and years of poverty and now that he was making a few bucks, idiot
critics in
the Village Voice were taking him apart. At first, Lester refuted this
but I
wouldn't give up. Then to my amazement, Lester broke down crying,
saying he
had never thought about the pain and cyclical poverty he might be
visiting on
the mighty Seger. Lester was distraught and I had worked myself up to
such a
self-righteous frenzy, soon the two of us were rocking back and forth
two keeners at a funeral. I suppose what I'm trying to say is that
really cared.

He had been sent to England to explore the burgeoning punk scene. By
time, we were well used to punk over here but it never captured the
imagination of the mainstream press as it did in England. We all adored

Television who were the kings of the New York/CBGB's scene - if you
have it, get their first album, Marquee Moon - but Lester's editors
wanted a
piece on the newsworthy Sex Pistols. When Lester hit London, however,
happened upon The Clash. I can still remember the night he returned -
glow of messianic discovery in his eyes as he described the "best rock &
band ever". Oddly enough, the greatest impression they made on him was
they allowed their fans to sleep on the floor of their hotel rooms. To
Lester, it wasn't just the music. The music and the musicians had to
something beyond mere music. They had to chisel out their own Mount
Rushmores in his fervid imagination. Nothing more - nothing less.
was right about The Clash. We'll never see their like again. Will we
see another Lester? Even less likely.

I was on the road when Lester died in 1982 - I can't believe it's almost
years. His three critic friends took care of the funeral. I often
think of
him, perhaps, for selfish reason. We were great friends but he never
about any of the bands I was in. It puzzled and even hurt, at times.
back in the Bells, you hung up your guns at the door and it would have
gauche, and probably painful, if I'd had the bad taste to ask him his
opinion. Still and all, I have this 55/45 feeling that he would have
Black 47. Then again, with Lester, you never knew. I find it strange
it means so much to me, after all this time. Whatever, he would have
told me
the truth, bitter though it might have been, and after, we would still
linked drunken arms in keeping the dawn at bay.

And then, I wonder how would Lester deal with today? Again, I don't
He lived, breathed and adored uncompromising music. It's just so hard
to see
how he would fit in. The awful truth was that he could see the end of
music, as we knew it, and his own relevance therein, coming. Still, I'm
his death was just another of those awful, grandiose mistakes that were
of our lives back then. The question is, if he was alive today, would
just be dying a slow, compromising death up in his ramshackle
apartment. I
think not! But then, again, there is so much I am unsure about in the
present scheme of things. All I do know is that sometimes as the dawn
cracking the skies over the West Village, I remember the man vividly and
sadly delighted that many more will know him now because of the movie
Jim's book. Hey, Lester, thanks for all those nights, man. And I still

remember your greatest fear but forget it, you don't have to worry! You
the best - a real original - you made the music talk.

Larry Kirwan


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let it blurt...too many inaccuracies
Date: Sun, 26 Nov 2000 19:43:30 -0500
"Wendy Warren"

Dear Mr. Derogatis,

I have recently come across a copy of your book entitled Let It Blurt. It is truly a shame that when
researching your book you did not bother to check for facts. Just a few direct mentions:

1) Barry Kramer was not 37 when he died...had you bothered to verify his death certificate, or even
just read his tombstone you would have known that.

2) The farm in Walled Lake was barely even 5 acres - hardly 120 acres as you wrote. There was
only one house - not two.

3) The move to Birmingham was at Barry's insistence - not Connie Kramer's.

There are many more mistakes in your book - I cannot believe you didn't even bother to check for

As for how I know these things? I am the sister of Connie Kramer, the former sister in law of Barry
Kramer. I grew up with Creem as part of my foundation. I worked in the office, and I spent time at
the house in Walled Lake.

I am aware that my sister declined to speak with you regarding this book, however that is no cause
to less than accurately research your information.


Wendy Warren


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Subj: America's Greatest Rock Critic
Date: 11/14/00 4:30:28 PM Central Standard Time
From: apope@shorefire.com (Anson Pope)
Reply-to: apope@shorefire.com (Anson Pope)
To: jimdero@aol.com (Jim DeRogatis (Chicago Sun))


I shall start by saying this email is not a pitch at all. I am not mentioning any of my artists' events or record releases. I'm writing to share some thoughts and feelings conjured up by your Lester Bangs biography.

Being one of the younger publicists in the music world (a measly 25), I was born too late to enjoy the writings of Lester. Okay, so one might argue I was not born too late since I was 6 in 1981! Even still, I was unaware of him and his writing back then.

My early music diet consisted of Blondie, Elton John, Beethoven, Black Sabbath, the Stones, and it all led me to MTV. What can I say, I am of this generation. MTV had my friends and I pondering George Michael's sexuality based solely on which ear his earring was in. Had I grown up in the 70's I would have been a Creem reader and follower. I know this because of your book.

You can call me an uneducated music publicist. I went to college with aspirations of becoming an astronaut, majoring for two years in Aerospace Engineering. It was my many hours spent at the college radio station that led me astray and Calculus became Intro to Journalism. It was there (the radio station) that I found my passion for music (mostly industrial music--love the Wax Trax scene) and my desire to force what I deem talent, down the throats of the pop loving culture in which we live. I knew nothing about this business other than what I'd been exposed to, which a few years back was loud rock radio programming at my college station.

Since 1997 I've been in PR, here at Shore Fire. I figured I had better learn more about the world in which I live, so I read Hit Men. I learned nothing new, this was all stuff I knew about. Every industry is dirty one way or another. Even still, Hit Men did give me a good look at this business. Your book gave me another good look at it.

Like I said, I had no clue who Lester Bangs was, and it wasn't until after I started at Shore Fire that he popped into my life. Along with the movie Dazed and Confused, your book made me wish that my parents were a little older and that I had been born maybe in the early 60's. The music was so much cooler then. And the people that moved it were more true to their beliefs. I'm not about to pull journalists apart for loving Britney or Ricky or even Marilyn Manson, I just want to say that I feel the honesty is gone. Your book showed me that. There were some parts of it that actually made me feel vile for doing what I do. It also made me feel like maybe I was on the wrong side of the field, that maybe if I wanted to help move talent I should write about it rather than pitch it. That's a whole other issue.

Your book led me into the life of Lester, his writing, and the early foundations of rock writing. It's interesting to look back and see who the players were and how they have affected the landscape I work with today. It's also made it funny to deal with some of these people. For instance, I can't call Christgau now without thinking of the nude editing story. This book was truly an education, one that I needed.

Well now I have gone and rambled on when all I was looking to do was praise your book and ask (in the tradition of another Shore Fire staffer) if you would inscribe it if I sent it to you. I can send it to your office if you'd like. Let me know what's best for you.



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Subj: FWD: Hi Jim
Date: 11/13/00 9:30:16 AM Central Standard Time
From: jimdero@earthlink.net (jim derogatis)
To: jimdero@aol.com

------Original Message------
From: Jon Ginoli
To: jimdero@earthlink.net
Sent: November 12, 2000 1:41:24 AM GMT
Subject: Hi Jim


HI! It's Jon from Pansy Division. I recently read your Lester Bangs
book, and I just LOVED it. It tells a great story, and an important one
to remember. My sister and I used to read Creem in the mid to late 70s
and always loved Lester, and the writers he encouraged. In 1979 I even
met Rick Johnson! Probably not a big moment for most people, but it was
cool to me.

I picked up the book the other night to reread a passage and I ended
rereading half the book again. It reads very easily and seems very well
researched. Bravo! And geez, I still miss Lester, like I still miss D.

So apart from me wanting to write you about that, your name turned up in
another place this week. I work at Amoeba Records in S.F. when I'm not
busy with Pansy Division, and love going through the flood of used
records and CDs we get. The other day I saw the CD by Mod Fun that Get
Hip had put out, with your name as producer (I think!). I have a
question. Didn't they later change their name to Animation? When I was
on tour once with my old band The Outnumbered, I stayed over night at
one of their houses in Westfield, New Jersey. None of the guys in the
pictures looked like the guy I remember; do you have any idea who it
might be? I was just thinking about this recently and then this CD
turns up. Funny how life is.

Thanks for the good job,
Jon Ginoli


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Subject:   LIB etc.
Date: Wed, 27 Dec 2000 20:26:58
From: "michael layne-heath"

Hello again Jim:

Well, after months of browsing thru copies at every available opportunity in local
book stores and with the advent of the holidays and thus Xmas bonuses, I FINALLY
got my hot little paws on a copy of L.I.B. Thus, a series of random semi-connected
thoughts on same:
First off, it's REALLY weird to read about CREEM magazine in your book,
especially as someone who was experiencing reading it firsthand and in its
time, and consider that it's now HISTORY, as much as the World Wars, the Cold
War, Mantle, Monroe etc. "Americana", albeit of a somewhat warped and individual
manner ...
Also, as i read through LIB, i find my two predominant reactions are either "oh
wow" (in amazement) and "oh no" (distress).
On the positive, I think one of the highlights of LIB is your exhaustive biblio of LB's
published work. Truly what will with any luck be considered in time an invaluable
resource to those out there- me incl. - with access to libraries, microfilm, used mag
shops and the like, to
not only connect or reconnect with LB's lit. legacy, but ultimately to bypass Perfesser
Marcus and those of his ilk and PUT TOGETHER ONE'S OWN DAMN CARB
A D.I.Y aesthetic approach that, when you think about it, is something Lester would
have wholeheartedly approved.
But given the time o' the season, LIB -and by ext. you- provided me with a
penultimate Yule treat. Poring over the biblio, I spied the entry for the unrel. liner
notes for the Comedian Harmonists anthol. As luck or blind damn providence would
have it, I happened to have seen the recent and wholly intriguing biopic on said
Harmonists on video, no less than a month ago.
So such a discovery - made tangible by a little trip to the NY Times microfilm section
of my local library - totally fed into my curiosity re: the CHs. And DAMN if Lester
didn't pick up on what made them unique, as vividly and enthusiastically as any of his
best crit pieces ever did.
That I should have made this find when I did, though, makes for seriously spooky,
visions-of-LB-from-beyond-the-grave (ooh-WEEE-ooh) coincidence, no? In any
event, it made my holiday complete, to be sure.
Thanks for the latest addy to your site, the Memphis Rockcrit Con thang, though I
wasn't personally THAT curious to find out whether or not R. Meltzer was Jewish (cf
photo at top of article), heh... and speaking of rhymes-with-seltzer, have you seen his
Opposing Viewpoint piece regarding ALMOST FAMOUS on the rockcritics.com
website? ("Third spud from the sun")
I was gratified to have my own serious ambivalence about Crowe's Hollywood
candycoating of that time period (HWD. has a habit, after all, of being either too
rosecolored or too sensationalistic with such subject matter, with precious few
exceptions, which is why I hated the O. Stone Doors flick - best comment about that
abom., in my opinion, came from the great Danny Fields, who said he knew it was
gonna suck when he saw that the role he portrayed in real life - that of Doors' Elektra
promo guy - was being handled in the movie by a short blonde midget, three
features that do not in the least describe Fields - and THERE'S someone who
deserves a book written about them, wouldn't you say?) justified, even if R.M. DOES
spend a good third of his piece settling scores regarding the 'Teen Twerps' (as
opposed to 'Noise Boys') Tiven and Sugerman, in that crotchety,
old-fart-on-the-porch manner that he has sadly adopted in most of his writing over
the past fifteen or so years. ("Aw jeez, Unca Dickie, not the
New-York-Dolls-Snowball-Fight-Story AGAIN!!")
One last thing - in your acknowledgments section, one of the names you listed was
one Barbara Rice - by any chance the same B.Rice who edited DC's late lamented
TRULY NEEDY zine (for which i was but a humble scribe)? I've been trying
to reestab. contact with the broad for yonks...last i heard she was a paralegal in
upstate Maryland.
Anyways, end-of-year congrats on an accomplishment well done and kudos well
deserved... (And how WERE those Wire 2K shows anyways?)
cheers - Michael Layne Heath, San Francisco

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Bangs vs. Reed
Fri, 22 Dec 2000 09:27:07
"Thomas Radwick" <radwick@hotmail.com>

Greetings Jim,

Thanks for making your interview with Lester Bangs available on the web. It
is good reading, and one gets a fair sense of him from it. Do you have any
tips as to how I can find (preferably on the web) the Bangs vs. Reed
article/interview (I don't know what form it took) that Lester wrote BEFORE
"Let Us Now Praise Famous Death Dwarves?" Thus far I haven't had any success
in hunting it down.

Thanks and good wishes,


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Subj:    fan mail (I guess)
Date:    12/29/00 2:05:17 PM Central Standard Time
From:    hotratslll@yahoo.com (Larry L)
To:    jimdero@aol.com

Hello Jim,

I've read your first book on psychedelic music. I
really enjoyed it. You turned me on to some bands that
I was not aware of, thanks for that. I'm currently
reading your Lester book. I'm at the part where he
just started in AA. I'm really liking this book.
Lester was a very interesting guy. He turned me on to
a bunch of music, especially the Stooges. Anyway,
thanks for 2 great books, please write another. The
music guys in our local papers suck, especially Dave
Ferman of the Ft. Worth Star Telegram. Oops, sorry
about that. Take care.

Arlington, TX

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