Friday, February 6, 2009

SB Idol: Richard Hell

Good morning, kiddies! SB is about to go beat the shit out of the whiner who sits in the cube next-fucking-door. All the fucker does is complain about how bad he feels or talk about the ingredients in bags of food and whether they contain wheat products or not, because his ass has fucking Celiac's disease.

This fucker complains about feeling bad everyday, and I'm just waiting for him to say he is going home to work because he feels so lousy. Actually, that would be a relief to my ass, because I wouldn't have to listen to his ass piss and moan all day.

The only thing that cheers me AT ALL today is that I am dressed like John Cusack in the eighties. I found a groovy secondhand blazer, paired it over a black concert T, and I have my trusty and beloved Chuck Taylor Converses on. I am looking fly motherfuckers! And to look good is to feel good, man.

Below is a response from musician/writer Richard Hell (how could you not love him with a name like that) to an interiew that Adam Travis did. I found said response wholly amusing. Mr. Hell (again, awesome name) was a wee bit smarter than the interviewer figured him for.

I think I need to change my name to Sarcastic Hell or something. What do you think? I mean it has a certain ring.

Interviewing Hell

During a recent trip to New York City, I stopped by Richard Hell’s apartment in the East Village. We had coffee, made literary small talk, and recorded an interview. Several days later I sent him a transcription of the interview along with an unfinished introduction to the piece. What follows is Hell’s spirited response and critical comments to my introduction.

25 February 2005

Yo, Travis,

Listen, last night I looked at the interview. I'm pretty inured to ignorant journalism, and the second half of my double take regarding your introduction to the interview took about twenty minutes to fully develop, but once it occurred it was energetic enough that it resulted in the attached annotated version of your intro.

Dude, I don't know what remedy there is for your condition but some hard knocks. Anyway, for the record, the line that really ignited my slow burn was, "As a poet now, Richard Hell is perhaps not as good as he could have been had he not spent upwards of twenty years playing music." Though as indicated in the attachment, the whole intro is consistent with the obnoxiousness of that line.

To be fair, I have to admit that when I was around your age, I was nearly as bad, maybe worse. When I was 18 and had started that literary magazine I mentioned, I wrote Allen Ginsberg for a poem and then when he sent one I rejected it.

But, you know, this interview is nothing special. Under the circumstances I'm really not going to break my butt to have it ready for you. It might be interesting to include this exchange with it. If you want to suggest a simple way to salvage it, I'd consider it. The cool thing would be to take an extra week and include this exchange (with the attachment below), but I don't expect that. Otherwise, if you're determined to go on with the process, I'd suggest you write a new slightly more appropriately humble intro, and I'd do the work I'd need to on the interview proper over the weekend when I can find the time. Otherwise, let's just write it off to experience and forget about it.



ATTACHMENT: (Lines from the original introduction are in bold type.)

If Richard Hell had died fifteen years ago he would only be remembered for his essential contribution to the beginnings of punk rock in New York in the 1970s. No small feat, I’d say.

You would? You'd say? You would say? You'd say both those things? You? Mr. Adam Travis?

Many rock and rollers become rich and famous, but few can claim to have also had a significant impact on culture at large.

I don't think it's a real interesting subject, but how about Elvis Presley, James Brown, the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Sly Stone, The Sex Pistols, Run-DMC, and Madonna? It's absurd and embarrassing for you to place me among those who "can claim to have also had a significant impact on culture at large" as a "rock and roller" with a throwaway line like that. I do not make that "claim." On what basis do you? You think you're flattering me, but you're just being a condescending twat.

That kind of accomplishment, especially in such a here-today-gone-tomorrow genre of music,

What?--more poetry survives than music? And/or--what?--poets have anywhere near the "impact on culture at large" as pop musicians?

can be a major obstacle to being taken seriously in any other medium. Since music Hell has devoted himself almost entirely to writing (mostly novels), and occasionally poetry. In fact, poetry was the first thing he did seriously (before music) when he came to New York in the late sixties.

The first thing I did seriously at that time was get drunk, the second was try to figure out how to support myself financially. Poetry was a distant fourth or fifth.

As a poet now, Richard Hell is perhaps not as good as he could have been had he not spent upwards of twenty years playing music.

Fuck you. If you want to say something like that, say it to my face. You don't hear me making claims about how "good" my poetry is, but who the fuck do you think you are? All this writing of yours is presented as if you're a person called upon to make judgments from some position of earned respect. That's not who you are. You're a callow kid with a job reading slush for a pretentious irrelevant "poetry" magazine [Poetry, not Bookslut]. You sought an interview from me, I was kind enough to grant it, and now you're being an asshole by exercising some grotesquely deluded misapprehension that your role in this includes some call to fucking critically assess my skills. Also, it was not twenty but ten years I spent with bands.

That statement is so obvious of any occupation it probably doesn’t even need to be made.

Except by an incomprehensibly self-satisfied fool.

But whereas most poet-rockers’ involvement with poetry doesn’t go beyond one or two volumes of crappy verse,

Again, who gives a shit what your opinions are concerning "crappy" verse? What have you said or done for us to have any reaction but baffled impatience at your presumptuous, casual, throwing-around of such epithets? This writing of yours is what's crappy: it betrays nothing but unearned self-importance and a complete lack of understanding regarding the nature and purpose of the journalism it's purporting to practice.

poetry seems actually to have been a significant part of Hell’s life and work.

Thanks for your prized approval.

Even his forthcoming novel Godlike is all about poets and poetry. It is a commonplace to say that poetry does not matter to the rest of culture – and true, most writers, musicians, painters, and even actors, lead careers that are influenced almost not at all by poetry. It is hard, though, to imagine Hell’s work without his involvement with poetry.

Gee, does that mean I'm accepted into your approved pigpen of the cognescenti?

1 comment:

julin. said...

This made my day.
I'm a huge fan of Richard but for some reason I haven't read this.
I'd kiss that man!
For that response and for having such a cool stage name.