My God! Can it possibly be More Blurt-mail?!

Correspondence from Readers, Page Six



Go to pages:  1  2  3  4  5  7  8



Subj: Let it Blurt
Date: 1/18/01 8:43:26 PM Central Standard Time
From: (David @ HomePride)

Dear Jim:

I've been reading Rolling Stone since 1974, and used to pick up Creem once
in awhile at the local grocery store in my hometown of Steeleville, IL
(population 2,000....saaaaalute!). These magazines were my window to the
world, and the inspiration for my eventual escape. One Christmas I received
the Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock and Roll as a gift. So I'm
certain that over the years I read some of the work of Lester Bangs. But
being an unsophisticated teenager, I never really appreciated his genius.
Then this last year I was completely blown away (like most music lovers, I
guess) by Cameron Crowe's "Almost Famous." In particular, I was captivated
by the "character" of Lester Bangs as portrayed by Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

So, having a renewed and rabid interest in the man and his work, my wife
bought me "Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung" and "Let it Blurt" for
Christmas this year. I read "Psychotic Reactions..." first. This gave me a
glimpse of Lester's genius with words and his vision/passion for rock and
roll. Then your book gave me what seemed to be a loving and honest picture
of the man. Pulling no punches, you created a thoroughly engrossing, and
rather sad "warts-and-all" portrait of a brilliant and troubled person. I
couldn't put it down.

Having read your book, I feel like it might have been easy to respect, maybe
idolize, even love Lester, but (wow!), I bet he would have been a hard
person to live with or even spend any extended length of time around. I
don't know if this was your intention, and maybe it's just me, but I really
FELT that in your book.

Great work! I hope this won't be your last novel or biography of someone
you admire. I'd be anxious to read your next work. I don't know if you do
this kind of thing, but I'd be very pleased if you'd be willing to autograph
my copy. I could drop by the Sun-Times office sometime, if you have time.
Drop me a line to let me know if this would be appropriate, and to suggest
how we might arrange such a meeting.

Kind regards,

David Joost
CEO/Program Director
HomePride Chicago

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Subj: Lester Bangs bio
Date: 1/8/01 10:38:26 AM Central Standard Time
From: Rough Gems
To: JimDeRo
Sent on: AOL 3.0 16-bit for Windows sub 60

Hi Jim --

Jonathan Perry here. It's been a long time since our rockwriter paths crossed at Rolling Stone (where you started assigning me pieces for the then-fledgling RS Online, and we talked about our mutual daily beat reporting pasts in New Jersey).

At any rate, I just wanted to drop you a quick note to offer my congratulations on your superb book on Lester Bangs and to say that, as a longtime Bangs fan (who, like you, was actually alive and rock-crit conscious when he was around), I'm enjoying the work immensely. A long overdue glimpse of the man behind the by-line, and one that obviously was a time-consuming, impeccably researched labor of love. It's not only made me go back and and re-read all those old issues of Rolling Stone and Creem that I've collected over the years, but it's a striking reminder of what music criticism can be. So thank you.



* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Subj: Let it Blurt
Date: 1/3/01 10:41:30 AM Central Standard Time
From: HickeyMJ
To: JimDeRo
Sent on: AOL 5.0 for Mac sub 7


Pardon the intrusion (I noticed your e-mail address on a mass e-mail that I also received)...but I just wanted to say I just finished Let It Blurt the other day and really enjoyed it. Among many things, reading about the old Creem was very cool. Great job.

Matt Hickey

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Subj: fan
Date: 1/2/01 2:26:52 PM Central Standard Time
From: (Kelly Foley)

read let it blurt(great)
then your anti-tribute article
like the stuff you're doing.
i come from stockton,ca
home of pavement,grant lee buffalo,lord buckley.
am in a band called toadstool theatre
hope ya get to hear it someday
don't stop
kelly foley

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Just stumbled upon your website...
Date: Wed, 25 Apr 2001 20:35:26 EDT
From: PBux238


...and I wanted to let you know that I think you're a fantastic writer and interviewer. I read "Let it Blurt" a few months ago and thought it was easily one of the best, most interesting, and most entertaining biographies I've ever read. Lester Bangs is one of my heroes (I'm looking into actually getting a Lester tattoo, believe it or not) and I really think that you did him tremendous justice. By the way, what did you think of Phillip Seymour Hoffman's portrayal of Bangs in "Almost Famous?" Seeing as how I've never seen video of Bangs or anything, I couldn't really judge, but it still seemed kind of off to me. I dunno, maybe it was just the movie (I was very excited to see it only to be very disappointed by it's lack of rock 'n' rollness).

Also, I thought your article/interview with Ben Weasel in Spin was extremely well done. Screeching Weasel are one of my all time favorite bands and I thought that you did a perfect job of explaining the SW mythos in a way that would enlighten people who weren't familiar with them while not boring long-time fans. Seriously, it was a great job. I was kind of hoping you'd mention the Shotdowns, though (hardy-har-har). How did you first meet Ben, anyway? What's the extent of your friendship?

Well, I guess that's about it. I just feel like you deserve some serious praise and wanted to give you the equivalent of an electronic pat on the back. Oh yeah, what are some future projects? All right, I guess I've rambled on long enough.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Subject: bangs book
Date: Thu, 12 Apr 2001 15:07:29 -0700
From: Jon Booth

dear Jim DeRogatis,

bam. shazam. you da man! I just finished your book, "Let It Blurt", and in case you don't know, it was great. old news I know, but it had to be said. bam.

of course I didn't click you, a perfect stranger, just to ply you with
idle flattery. I also wanted to pose you a question, because you seem like a person that would know... is there any plans afoot, anywhere by anybody you've heard of, to publish more Bangs anthologies since "Psychotic Reactions..."?

of course I've read that, and like so many others who grew up in the 70s hanging on Bangs' every printed word, I'm asking 'is that it? is that all there ever will be to read and re-read and display proudly on my bookshelf?'. doesn't seem right.

me, I have a dozen ideas (at least) about how Bangs' writing could be further anthologised and disseminated (crap, I'm probably spelling/using words wrong, I'm obviously not a writer), if only for a small niche market... does any of this sound at all do-able? book editing and publishing is not my area, but I've been known to attempt ill-advised projects and business ventures before (not with any results I could brag about) and if anybody who even remotely knows what he/she is talking about were to encourage me to pursue this idea a little further, I just might.

so, if you have a minute to reply, I'd love to hear from you. if not,
no biggie. keep up the good work and take care.

peace, man

Jon Booth

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Subj: Thanks for "Let It Blurt"
Date: 4/1/01 11:11:37 AM Central Daylight Time
From: (digeorgior)

Dear Mr. Derogatis,

I wanted to take an opportunity to thank you for your book "Let It
Blurt", which I just had the pleasure of reading. It brought back many
happy memories of reading Lester Bangs' writing in the 1970's, and of much of the music I loved then and continue to love.

I think you did a wonderful job of meeting the goals for your book in
that you captured the era very well. Because of this, the book will serve to document a time when writing about Rock was as important as it was. Readers in the future will therefore be clued in to this. I'm glad to have run across your book, and now look forward to reading "Kaleidoscope Eyes". Now being too old (38) to read music periodicals (except for MOJO, which caters to old folks such as myself), I am very glad that writers such as yourself have begun to write books which I can read and enjoy. Perhaps this is what Lester would have done, so I'm glad you are doing it in his stead!

Dan Smith
Jacksonville, Florida

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Lester Bangs
Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2001 14:14:41 -0500
From: Margaret Crandall

Dear Jim,

I just finished your book on Lester Bangs. Wow! That was incredible! I
knew nothing about the man (other than the little part in Almost Famous), and thoroughly enjoyed reading your biography of him. Do you have any other books in the works right now?

I used to live in Chicago, where I was a big fan of "Sound Opinions." Do
you still do that? And you look *nothing* like what I expected you to look like. I guess you probably hear that a lot.

I've done some writing about music for, and am going to
do some for I would love to be able to do this for a living - to write about music and pay the bills at the same time. Am I crazy? Is this possible? Any advice you could give this newbie would be greatly appreciated.


Margaret Crandall

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Subject: article
Date: Wed, 21 Mar 2001 07:14:12 -0800 (PST)
From: Scott Tribble

Hi Jim-

Just finished reading your Bangs biography--congratulations on a fine
effort! I appreciate your hard work in trying to essentialize a very enigmatic personality(-ies) and also in trying to forge new ground with a history of music criticism.

I was reading your Sun-Times piece on the American Music Awards (I just
moved to Chicago from Boston), and I liked your not-so-subtle diss of Creed. I do some writing on the side myself, and I thought you might get a kick out of this anti-Creed piece I just wrote.

Enjoy, and thanks for all the wonderful words.

-Scott Tribble

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Fri, 2 Mar 2001 15:22:35 -0600
From: "Baird, Pat"

Hi Jim:

Just wanted to let you know your Lester book has been officially submitted
for a Ralph J. Gleason Music Book Award.

I just finished reading it myself and was very happy to see Tony Reay
finally credited with starting Creem. I certainly wouldn't blame you if you
were tired of the subject, but Tony can be reached (in Northern England) at


Pat Baird

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Subject: Les Bangs
Date: Wed, 28 Feb 2001 15:15:40 -0800 (PST)
From: Jess Montgomery

Hello Jim

Just wanted to say that I am half way through LET IT
BLURT and am enjoying it immensely. Part of my
enthusiasm is because Les and I were best friends in
5th and 6th grade at Lincoln School in Escondido. His
mom moved to El Cajon in part because she didn't want
his going to the dreaded Grant Junior High down the
street. I only saw him a few times after that, once
when my mom drove me down to visit and another when
Norma brought him up and he retrieved his Mr Lucky
album from me, as stated in your book. I didn't see
him again until about 1969 in a writing class at SD
State. True to form, he showed up for about 2 classes
the first week and then again the last week, trying to
turn in his book manuscript in lieu of all the other
assignments he'd ignored. We promised to keep in
touch, but our paths were far apart at that point.
Since you have obvoiusly done so much work on the dude
you may well be ready to forget the whole subject,
but if you are interested I could relate details of
that period as I remember them. I do have a few pretty
amusing pictures that you would enjoy and would be
happy to send copies if you are interested. Too bad I
didn't hear of the book until now. I'm sure they would
have been included.
What I find most amazing is how into the music we
really were at that point. It's especially obvious now
that I have a 10 year old boy of my own (my
girlfriend's, actually) whose interest peaks at The
Real Slim Shady, Who Let the Dogs Out, and the Digimon
Theme Song and evaporates thereafter.

Regards- Jess Montgomery
Subj: Nasty On
Date: 2/25/01 3:06:44 AM Central Standard Time
From: (Jason Grimmer)

Hey Jim,

I'm Jason from the Nasty On. we're happy you like our song. Really liked your book on Lester, I'm currently searching for your "Kaleidescope Eyes" book. We sent a copy of our EP to "Revolver" as well. Our website setting-up has taken some time, but it should be up soon.

Do you know anywhere I can get a copy of Lester Bangs & The Delinquents album? I have the Birdland record and were covering "Kill Him Again" soon.




* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Subj: a personal note, jim
Date: 2/11/01 8:14:25 PM Central Standard Time
From: CoreyTan
To: JimDeRo
Sent on: 6.0 sub 10501

i owe you an apology for ripping off your beach chair idea to review pearl jam last year. i had no idea it was gonna get me national press. i never read your original review, so that's how i justified doing it, but i am ashamed. (i think i did a pretty good job, though.)

speaking of good jobs, finally read your lester book. congrats. it filled in a lot of holes left by carbureter dung and the creem articles i read as a kid. i had no idea you guys knew one another. cool. it was lester's articles that got me started in the biz. and when i took an editorial post at circus in 1989 (for $18k a year!), one of my main motivations was there was no more creem left to work for anymore.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Date: 2/2/01 6:03:31 PM Central Standard Time
From: Amy_Linden


it onlt took me a few months to finally buy your book and i just loved it....loved it... Im lending it to my boyfriend who isa native Detroit kid because the picture you created of the scene there was so vivid and so.. well reminded me of why i even bother to do what we do. Thank god im not the only person who is driven up the wall by the marcuses of the world and as someone who has had the chance to meet and read many of the fine folks in the book(especially the dear Mr Altman and the lovely Jaan, you did them and of course lester much justice

two thumbs up babe!!!!!!!!!!!

a fan

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Subject:  A few words of dissent
Date: Fri, 26 Jan 2001 22:25:43 -0800

Dear Jim:

A friend of mine just related what you said about me in your biography of Lester Bangs. I'm disappointed.

Based in Los Angeles, Mendelssohn was the odd man out (of the
"Noise Boys") and the most disliked by the others.

Words can't begin to convey how not troubled I am about that. I don't know, Jim. Call me a jittery neurotic, but there's just something about alcoholism, infantilism, and deliberate loutishness that don't work for me now, and didn't work for me then either.

A weird combination of raging egotist and jittery neurotic,

Pretty shallow, Jim. I like to imagine that there was always an unmistakble layer of self-mockery about the raging egotism; at the time, there probably weren't four people on the face of the earth with lower self-esteem. Pretty obtuse too, I must say, suggesting that there's something unusual about egotism and neurosis coinciding.

he celebrated fey stylish artistes such as the Kinks and David Bowie while skewering sweaty hard-rockers such as Led Zeppelin and Grand Funk Railroad.

Jesus, spare me, will you? What I detested (and continue to detest) was unironic machismo. Also, could you please explain why you neglect to mention my having championed such quintessentially non-fey "artistes" as The Stooges, Alice Cooper, Procol Harum, and Black Oak Arkansas,sweatier than whom they didn't come?

He described himself in his more manic moments as "the King of

Indeed. 23 years later and with tongue obviously in cheek,  recycling Bud Scoppa's description of me, by which I was greatly amused.

and he became the first well-known rock critic to cross over to the other side, fronting a precious glam band  called Christopher Milk. He didn't see a problem with hyping his own group while trying to destroy the careers of others, and he eventually fell out of favor as both a critic and a musician.

Well, you got some of it right, Jim.

"Criticism to me was lashing out at someone powerful and making them tremble," Mendelssohn said in 1997. "I don't know that the writing for me was ever more than showing off and enjoying the glory of it."

I related this to you very much in a spirit of confession, of owning up to my own sins, which I believe (and believed then, contrary to your crack about my "not see[ing] a problem...") to have been considerable. And you present it as self-aggrandizement.

Very disappointing, Jim. Very.


Forward to more letters

Back to Contents