Son of the Return of Even More Blurt-mail

Correspondence from Readers, Page Seven



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Subj:    Let it Blurt
Date:    7/17/01 2:38:39 PM Central Daylight Time

Dear Jim:

I just finished reading "Let it Blurt" (better late than never!), and found it to be one of the best biographies I've ever read. It is truly a great work of journalism, rich in detail, insight and most importantly, compassion for its subject. I was hooked from the beginning, and was sorry when I got to the last page. Trying to understand a person's life is a daunting challenge, and I believe you were able to capture the intensity, talent, boorishness, lonliness and ultimately tragic existence of American's greatest rock critic. Bangs was indeed a complex character, and this complexity is evident by your reporting and interviews with those closest to him. Beyond chronicling Bangs' life, I thought you deftly addressed important issues about the nature of rock criticism and the music industry, celebrating their triumphs as well as their flaws. As a fellow journalist, I can appreciate the hard work that went into the book. It is a great work.

I've followed your work for years, and count you among the best critics (rock or otherwise) around. It's because of your obvious passion for music and respect for musicians and fans alike. Well, I just had to write. Rarely am I compelled to send such letters, but your book moved me. Keep up the great work. I hope to see you out there on the beat some day.


Kevin Davis, Chicago.

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Subject: Let It Blurt
Date: Sun, 1 Jul 2001 22:55:56 EDT

Jim DeRogatis:

Hello. I noticed your e-mail address at the beginning of the bibliography in
Let It Blurt. I just wanted to let you know that I really loved your book.
I'm a new reader of Lester's work. I just recently got a copy of Psychotic
Reactions and Carburetor Dung. At the same time, I got a copy of Let It
Blurt, thinking that it would be good to read about Lester's life while
reading his writing. It was a good decision. Your book helped me to gain a
knowledge of what the man behind the writing was like. Thank you for writing
such a wonderful book. I had a great time reading every page of it.

Be well,
Leigh Buck

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Date: Fri, 22 Jun 2001 08:42:19 -0700

Mr. DeRogatis:

Yesterday, I read your excellent LET IT BLURT. I, like Lester Bangs, was born too late for the beats and the hippies;
my maternal grandparents came from Arkansas; I grew up in an LA suburb. After serving time at UC Berkeley in the
late 60s, I decided to become a music critic. I flew to LA, met a guy at A&M Records, got on their mailing list,
sent caustic reviews of the records to ROLLING STONE's Jon Landau, who wouldn't print them. Since I also sent
the reviews to the A&M guy, I was removed from their free records mailing list. I quickly learned that the whole
thing was a scam, and a horrible "career choice," lacking integrity. Since 1971 I've written over 600 songs.

Lester Bangs, who emerges from your book as a surprising sweetheart, embraced the Beautiful Loser/Noble Savage
myth, and then discovered it had embraced him in a death grip. Bangs always intended to go to Mexico to purify
himself. In February 1988, I moved to Mexico, and, at the age of 40, found the soulmate Bangs always sought. The
guy was THIS CLOSE to solving the riddle of self. Had he lived, I believe he would have been a "cultural critic" in
the style of Camille Paglia, who is a "cultural critic" in the style of Lester Bangs.

-Reinaldo Garcia

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Subj:    lester
Date:    6/25/01 3:15:50 PM Central Daylight Time

Jim, just had a chance to read the Lester Bangs book (having just finished the bi-annual 6 month legislative session, when we actually work for a living here - 7 days up to 12 hours a day for the session).

Just wanted to drop you a note to tell you that you did a really lovely job. I know as a writer, sometimes you really pour your heart and soul into something, and seemingly no one cares (altho I know this one got reams of press). I just wanted to tell you it was a really well-researched and emotionally moving read. Never knew much about his childhood at all; it explains reams about his alcoholism and addictive personality. Above all, it just felt to me like a fair and accurate depiction of the man; a biographer can aspire to little better.

Funny to me that he moved to Austin a mere couple of months before me, and that most of the sources you quoted are people I know, and several of the key ones people I'm pretty close to. Never met him, tho, started writing for the Chronicle shortly after he left. (Boy, Ed pegged the Delinquents right on the money!). Funny too that while I know how close some of them were to Lester, I've never really grilled 'em on it. Maybe I've had too many sad friends who didn't make it to revel in the stories I would've expect to hear from them about Lester.

I'd put off reading the book because even by the mid-'70s, the whole cult of Lester Bangs was just so obnoxious. He virtually started the whole writer as a character in his own writings style of writing - and is without peer as the most often and badly imitated music writer in history. I mean, there's SO many talented writers that could have inspired hordes of followers, yet Lester pretty much dominates that cult of personality. And yet, there's barely a one of them worth washing his socks. They just miss the point entirely as to what made his work good, entertaining, and sometimes just chillingly brilliant. Thank god Meltzer didn't die young of a 'romantic' drug overdose - that would've been a frightening thing.

I was just telling a young kid here that while Lester was always one of my very favorite writers (and a huge influence), I stopped buying albums he raved over after the Count Five article. Went out and bought the album for $.49 in the cutouts the day after reading it, expecting brilliance, and found, well, a bad-funny album by a bunch of guys who had no real talent (excepting Sean Byrne). But, you know, it was that very article that made it 'acceptable' for me to listen to local bands in general, to appreciate how brilliant The Gants from my hometown (Greenwood Miss) were when I'd looked down my nose at 'em in the '60s in favor of the Who, The Kinks, and the Small Faces, and just generally was single-handedly responsible for opening me up to listening to all kinds of things. Even now, the Bandstand Count Five appearance is one of my all-time favorite bad-funny TV appearances. I might've taken Lester with a grain of salt, or viewed him often as 'entertainment' rather than 'serious' writing, and yet he had more influence on my outlook towards music in general than almost anyone.

I dunno, I always felt like I KNEW Lester thru his writing - his heart, his soul, his sense of humor, his sense of doomed desperation, and outrage at the inanities of the biz. It's good, really, to know that was the real person.

And I still heartily look down on anyone who mimics his lifestyle. Which you presented unflinchingly like it really was - sad, lonely, and pathetic. And god, did they catch it right in Almost Famous - the heart of the man, not the drunken ranting idiot he could become at times.

Never believed he killed himself, and still don't. He just had too much passion and love of life. Wish he were still sharing his passion and outrage with us. It reminded me how much I miss him, and how much I always will. Gonna have to drag out a box of old Creem's tonight...

Thanks, Jim.

"Just remember: no matter where you go, there you are." -- Buckaroo Banzai

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