Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

Let it Blurt

It’s hotter than living hell out. It’s been an entire weekend of unrelenting weather, but this afternoon we got a wicked thunderstorm and some rain, so it felt good for a few hours. Now it’s getting hot again and the apartment is returning to swamp-like consistency. I should probably stop bitching about the weather, but the problem is that when the weather is like this, I have nothing else to write about, because my brain pretty much shuts down and all I can think about is moving to Antarctica, or how I can somehow take all of the computer parts in my house and build a bootleg air conditioner that will work better than the stupid portable one I have in my bedroom.

I finished reading this biography of Lester Bangs – I don’t remember the author [Jim DeRogatis], but the title is Let it Blurt and the author is/was this fat kid who went to visit Lester for his high school writing project, and met him at his apartment, and Lester was incredibly nice to him and talked to him for hours, and then like two weeks later he was dead. The book is the best one out there, but it was still a little weird or lacking, and I don’t know if it’s the writer (although he put a lot of effort into it) or just the arc of Bangs’ life. I mean, it seems like he was just gaining steam, and then BAM, and it wasn’t like Johnny Chapman jumped out with a revolver yelling “death to music critics” or something – he just died, and it’s still disputed if it was a drug overdose or a bad case of the flu or some mystery disease or what.

I think the thing with Lester Bangs is that describing him or what his deal was is a lot like trying to explain Devo to your mom, and you can’t really describe it, and it’s the kind of thing you just have to get right in the middle of and dive in without looking how deep the water is. And I’ve read a couple of the Lester Bangs books, and they kick total ass, and you realize how incredible this guy must have been. But all of his books were postmortem anthologies, and the little bits and pieces are good and bad and glued together at the whim of a third-person editor, and every time you read anything, you wish there was MORE somewhere. I mean, imagine Hendrix never released those first few albums while he was alive, and his entire discography was just these fucked-up, spliced together CDs that Steve Ballmer or whoever puts together. You’d get bits and pieces of the same riffs and jams, but would always walk away thinking “fuck, I wish he had some ALBUMS out!” And now, you put in Are You Experienced, and every song fits together perfectly, and every time you listen, you find some little sound that’s new, and I just wish Lester had put together some damn books in his lifetime so we all had that same experience.

The other thing about Lester Bangs is that in reading this biography, he really reminded me of my old roommate Simms, and I don’t know if Simms would take that as an insult or a compliment. I guess they, at least to me, have/had a similar persona, and Simms is totally this kind of guy that you could have a four-hour conversation about everything and nothing and that was a big Lester Bangs trademark, to the point that he had his phone cut off half the time because of huge bills to the phone co. And Lester Bangs sounds like the kind of guy who would go out and buy every Criterion Collection DVD and totally get on top of all of them as far as what was phenomenal and what was shit and somehow relate all of it to Frank Zappa. And I’m sitting here in iDVD, rendering an old video to disc, and the “burn” button is a spinning radiation-type symbol, like a six-piece circle with half yellow and half black, and it totally looks like this button Simms gave me of The Who that I still have in a box somewhere. So Lester Bangs reminded me of Simms, who I have not heard from in forever, but I just called his voice mail, so we’ll see.

It is POURING out. The top foot of my bed is drenched in water from the wind tearing the drops into my apartment. I hope that will dry off in the next hour or two. I also have about 20 CDs I bought in the last week, and I don’t want to listen to any of them. I am listening to Gordian Knot, this prog-rock project thing that is one of the guys from Cynic, along with a bunch of other prog-rock favorites like Bill Bruford and Steve Hackett, and it’s good. But I bought a bunch of stuff to fill holes in the collection, and I was bored of them before I got them out of the bag.

Okay, time to pay my bills and listen to the rain.