'round the dial
Wednesday 26 November @ 11:37:47
Greetings, Dial-heads! Welcome to this week’s edition of RTD, your premier source for rock n’ roll reviews, ramblin’ rants, and the rare, roaring rave. Guess which one I’m gonna do this time out? If you guessed (B), rant—you are kee-rect! Now, I don’t mean to be overly morbid here, especially on this Thanksgiving (read: Kill the Indians, eat their food, take their land, destroy it all) week, but let’s just get one thing straight: We all gotta go sometime, and (thankfully) none of us really know when that time’ll come.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “I would rather write like a dancer shaking my ass to boogaloo inside my head, and perhaps reach only readers who like to use books to shake their asses, than to be or write for the man cloistered in a closet somewhere reading Aeschylus while this stupifying world careens crazily past his waxy windows toward its last raving sooty feedback pirouette.”
SONG OF THE WEEK: “If I Should Die Tonight”
Sure, it might just be that I’m gettin’ older, and that every change of season (especially fall into winter) makes me think more and more of my own mortality; But then again, it might just be that I’ve always been on a death trip, an’ that’s why I love the shit outta bands like The Stooges an’ Black Sabbath an’ Nirvana, an’ also why I’m just a little peeved. Maybe I always wanted to go young in a blaze o’ glory an’ now that I’m old and befuddled, I’m coming to grips with the fact that, even if I died tonight, I wouldn’t be young and beautiful and full of promise. I’d just be a bloated, long-haired, smoke-stained numbnuts who bit it too late but too early so whatdafuck.
Lately—what with the entire world melting down at an alarming rate, the music biz sucking worse than ever, an’ losing like, twenty entertainment greats in just over two years—I been missin’ my own writerly inspirations a bit. Guys like Burroughs, Kerouac, an’ Lester Bangs. An’ yeah, sometimes I feel kinda hung out here on the line all by mah lonesome cuz it seems I’m one o’ the few scribes left (not that I’m so much as a pimple on the asses of the rotting corpses of those cats I just mentioned) who ain’t askeered to call the phonies an’ the playas an’ the liars on the carpet.
But it’s cool, ya know. Nobody forces me to get up in the morning (afternoon) and be hatin’ on Matchbox 20 or Hoobastank or John Mayer ... that’s just me, man. Sometimes, though, I think it’d be kinda fun to have another dissenter, another agitator, another CODGER to spar with, disagree with, and basically raise havoc an’ hell with. And somehow, I think it’s doubtful that’ll happen anytime soon. So partly to make up for that emptiness, partly to get some shit offa mah chest, and partly just for the big fat fuck of it, here’s Round The Dial’s ...
OPEN LETTER TO LESTER BANGS: (Or, We All Need Someone To Creem On)
From: Tom Hallett, drunken living writer, 11/26/03
To: Lester Bangs, drunken dead writer
Re: The state of shit today
Hey, old man—how’s it hangin’? Prob’ly not quite so straight an’ hard these days, huh? Yeah, it’s a drag that yer dead, pal. Hope it’s as much fun as you made it sound in that fake Hendrix interview ya did back in the day. How is that tripped-out, finger-flyin’ ol’ picker, anyway? Tell him I said hey, and to please come back and slip Ben Harper some purple haze so he quits foistin’ fuckers like John Mayer an’ Jack Johnson on the world, okay? Thanks.
But back to you, Lester. As you may have suspected would happen towards the (ridiculously early) end of your life, things have really taken a fucking dive, bro. Shit, you thought things were bad when people didn’t understand why you preferred Johnny Thunders to The Fall? Man, today The Fall look like the fucking Rolling Stones compared to what else has gone down. Yeah, man—you missed worse shit than you ever dreamed of. Since you croaked in ‘82, we’ve had to endure such unforgivable atrocities as WANG CHUNG, BOY GEORGE, MADONNA, THE NEW MONKEES, VANILLA ICE, MILLI VANILLI, MC HAMMER, GREAT WHITE, AEROSMITH (still!), STING solo, SHANIA TWAIN, and (still, again, and, lately, once more) MICHAEL JACKSON!!
And that’s just the tip o’ (“WELL I TOLE YOU ONCE AN’ I TOLE YOU TWICE/BUTCHOO NEVER LISTEN MY ADVICE ... ”) iceberg, jack. We won’t even discuss politics, but let’s just say you were right on the money about Reagan an’ Bush Senior, ya prob’ly woulda loved the shit outta Slick Willie, you’d puke if ya knew who the new Guv of Cali is, and the current Bush would probably cause you to O.D. all over agin’ if’n yew knew about ‘im. Naw, we’ll jes’ stay with the subjects you were best at diggin’ (and diggin’ holes for)—social abberance, entertainment industry wonks, and poop culture turds.
Thang is, Les, by checkin’ out early, ya were never exposed to “VOGUE!” or the fucking macarena, or line-dancing, or a cult of personality that includes THE OLSON TWINS (you’d wanna do nasty things with ‘em after the bar closed), BILL O’REILLY (you’d wanna hunt him down like a wild animal and roast him over Lenny Bruce’s bones), and RUSH LIMBAUGH (tame game—you’d wanna stuff an apple in his mouth and serve him for Christmas dinner to Barbra Streisand)!
Ya never hadda squirm yer way through THE FIRM, BON JOVI, TLC, CHUMBAWUMBA, MICHAEL BOLTON, or BOBBY MCFERRIN! You never sat through an ERIC CLAPTON, STING or ROD STEWART TV commercial. You never heard IGGY POP’S “Lust For Life” in a dilrod car ad. You never saw DAVE TV! No Lil’ Wayne, no Staind, no Jeff Gaines, no Oran “Juice” Jones’ “I Saw You (Walkin’ In The Rain”). God, my head hurts jes’ thinkin’ about ‘em. You woulda jes’ shat yerself, L.B.
Then again, Mr. B., ya did miss out on a whole heap o’ great stuff, too. Stuff you woulda loved to hate or hated to love, either way, we woulda loved to read about it, man. Like, what would your take on hair metal have been? After all, you’re the one who decreed the tuneless, cacaphonic howls of The Godz to be miles above the smooth, popular grooves of more socially acceptable (coff! Wanks! coff!) groups like The Jefferson Hairplane, Eric (wotta) Burdon & The New Animals, and (Rob Thomas) Santana, weren’t ya? Yep.
Jesus, to peruse 2,000 words from Big Bangs on the debut albums of Enuff Z’ Enuff, Dangerous Toys, or Whitesnake. Pure-dee joy.
I mean, you made no secret of your contempt for long-haired, screeching pussy-rockers like Journey, Foreigner and Styx. What in god’s name wouldja think about CREED, GODSMACK, and BLINK 182?! Mmm-mm ... I get hongry fer yer words jes’ thinkin’ on it. What twisted diatribe would your first discovery of EMO, or ELECTRONICA, or latter-day R&B produce? After all, you were hip to Nick Drake, Brian Eno, and Barry White before most of the kids pumpin’ out this limp-dick modern “alternative” drivel were even a glint in their coked-out papa’s eyes, weren’t ya?
Ah, for just one drunken, debauched night (ending with you laying prone, suckin’ on a bottle of Beam under my wobbly card table) spent with your loud, smelly, bad-ass self, Lester. I’d play you Wilco’s latest, you’d tell me in no uncertain terms why you think Jeff Tweedy is really a troll stealin’ Eno/Cale riffs to impress East Coast college girls. Or you’d play me the latest hip New York underground band (a cross-dressing cowboy on off-key harmonica fronting two Amish hookers playing broken accordians) and force me to understand why they’re more important to the future of rock n’ roll than a thousand Jay Farrars. Or we’d just beat the living shit out of each other an’ then drink to slaughtering another dawn ...
But seriously, man. You did miss SOME tasty shit. Steve Earle, the rise and fall of Joan Jett, MTV, and the proliferation of indie rock. The new English invasion of the ’80s ... and the ’90s. Kurt (oh, yeh, you beat ‘im to the punch) Cobain. Grunge. Guided By Voices. Bill Hicks. Juliana Hatfield. Wayne’s World. That sick doll movie of Karen Carpenter’s life story. Mike Watt still touring in a van, still crashing on living room floors, still crapping his pants an’ pissin’ in a bottle. Lollapalooza. Morrissey. The Simpsons. The Palace Brothers. Vic Chesnutt. Rap.
Fuckin’ A, rap—you missed PUBLIC ENEMY, Lester! You missed Tupac an’ Biggie an’ East Coast vs. West (that’d be a great one fer you—you fought California urges but loved the shit outta New York and actually tolerated fucking Detroit).
One thing hasn’t changed a fucking bit, man. We still LOVE to watch the big ‘uns fall. Shit, I can only imagine what you’d say about GEORGE MICHAEL JACKING OFF IN A PUBLIC RESTROOM. Or MELISSA ETHERIDGE ADOPTING DAVID CROSBY’S TEST TUBE BABY. Or ANYTHING AT ALL ABOUT THE LAST TWENTY YEARS OF MICHAEL (Smooth Criminal! Heee!) JACKSON’S LIFE BUT ESPECIALLY HOW HE JUST GOT ARRESTED ON MULTIPLE COUNTS OF CHILD MOLESTATION AND THEY LET HIM CHOOSE THE TIME AND DAY HE TURNED HIMSELF IN!! How would THAT shit grab ya, little buddy? What a fuckaroo, eh?
Like I said, it’d be a gas, gas, gas to have ya still around to verbally choke yer chicken over these and other outrages we’re forced to endure in what surely must be the end times, Lester, but honestly, I don’t think you could handle the world today. You’d get the Internet and get lost in a German chat room debating the merits of Captain Beefheart over a late ’90s Elephant Six band with some dour young schnitzel. Or you’d get cable and spend your every waking hour watching old sci-fi classics, foreign films, and, of course, PORN. You wouldn’t like the world we live in now, Lester. There’s too much violence in the streets, not enough sex. There’s too much sex in politics, not enough violence. There’s too much politics in sex, not enough street. You get the pitcher.
There’s no decent radio, no explosive new musical movements, no crazy hippie chicks with purses fulla pills for yew to steal. Landlords don’t argue with you about your music anymore; they just call Big Brother and put you on a list so you can never rent an apartment outside of the ghetto again. We haven’t seen a Quaalude in twenty years. Pot is more powerful than ever, but costs more than coke did when you died. Ya jes’ don’t find pills on the street anymore, not the good ones. An’ as if it wasn’t hard enuff to cop a decent buzz, shitheads like Rush Limbaugh an’ a passel o’ overpaid sports and pop stars are makin’ it so we’ll never see the likes of ol’ Doctor Nick again—shit, a rock n’ roller with a prescription death wish couldn’t pull an Elvis now if he wanted to. Oh, you can still get smack an’ shitty acid and once in awhile some good shrooms, but the new drug is apathy, bro, and we all high as fuck.
And that’s not the worst of it, Lester—there’s no more Romilar, either. That’s right, some pinhead at a pharmaceutical company somewhere decided (I think it was right around 1982—hey! That’s when you OverDeed!) America needed a lighter, less-narcotic, more utilitarian cough syrup, so we got Extra-Strength Green Nyquil instead. An’ lemme tellya, dat shit gon’ turn yer liver green afore it kills ya—tain’t no fun ta feel dat little organ kickin’ an’ squirmin’ like Rosemary’s Baby inside o’ yer guts fer three years before it jes’ gives out an’ leaves ya bloated an’ stinkin’ in a puddle o’ green bile, ah tellyew whut.
But hey, I’m sorry fer whinin’. I guess I just figgered you’d be bored up there, what with EVERY COOL MUSICIAN BEING DEAD now. I mean, you’ve got Joey an’ Dee Dee Ramone, Johnny Thunders, your beloved Nico, Joe Strummer, Johnny Cash, Warren Zevon (who you probly hated but now like because he recorded an overblown version of Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” while he was DYING OF CANCER), and, of course, the recently departed Bobby Hatfield of The Righteous Brothers, all sittin’ around on clouds twiddlin’ their thumbs while the fucking INSANE CLOWN POSSE sells out shows around the country. Yurk. Not much down here’s gonna impress ya these days, my friend.
So I won’t complain too much more. I’ll probably see you sooner than I really want to, anyway, ol’ dawg. And I’ll make the best of this fucking freak show we’re living through down here now, partly because I got no choice. And also because, shit, there ain’t no denyin’ the entertainment value of it all. But mostly because, Lester, there is a certain skewed glory in watching pop (and the planet) finally, irrevocably, fucking EAT ITSELF! Wish you were here, man.
Peaches En Regalia,
To further acquaint yourself with Lester Bangs and why I miss him, check back issues of Creem magazine (pre-1980), the album Birdland With Lester Bangs, the books “Psychotic Reactions And Carburetor Dung” and “Mainlines, Bloodfeasts, And Bad Taste,” the movie “Almost Famous,” that really, really, bad R.E.M. song, and the history of Romilar cough syrup somewhere on the web. That’s it for me this week, grrls n’ boyz. Until we meet again—make yer own damnable news.
If you have local music news/gigs/events that you’d like to see listed in this column, or you’d just like to WHINE right back at me, send replies to: TMygunn777@aol.com.