25 internautes sur 29 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
I confess up front to being very excited to get ahold of this book. Richard Hell was an important part of an important era of music at a time when I was most actively involved in music myself and the NY underground scene was pivital in my own musical development. The Ramones, Patti Smith, and most significantly, Televsion created music that profoundly influenced me as both listener and practitioner. That Hell is an intelligent, thoughtful commmentator and writer only upped the ante.
I now confess disappointment. That Hell decided to end his book at the point he jettisoned active music making and drug addiction (in the mid-1980's) is fair and the reasons he gives for that are fair enough as well. However, this cursory treatment of what he does write about as frustratingly scattershot and mostly shallow.
The book, more memoir than "autobiography", begins with some charming and interesting material covering his childhood, his father's death when Hell was only 7 years old, and his initial relationships with his sister and mother. Unfortunately, both of them completely disappear the moment he leaves home. Are either still alive? What, if any, relationship does he have with either past the age of 16? He doesn't tell. He does give an enjoyable, if still rather shallow picture of his life as a young man in NYC, writing and editing poetry, working odd jobs and developing the friendship with Tom Verlaine that would eventually lead to the Neon Boys, and through them, to Televsion.
At this time, too, however, the book becomes a loose chronology of women he slept with and drugs he took, with an ocassional asisde into a song or two he wrote. This, in and of itself, is not a problem, per se, but what is a problem for me is that while going to great lengths to name these woman, the only real description of them we get is some physical detail (this one had large breasts and wide-set eyes; that one had small breasts and wild hair; another one was slim-hipped, but had a nice, round behind; so on and so forth). At no point do any of these women emerge as real people. Instead we get the physical description and a character trait or two, and usually he praises them for being nice to him - that is, they gave him money and sex. He describes an intimate, almost psychic connection to "Lizzy" and says their relationship was just short of an eternal bond, but gives us no real idea why he felt or thought that. He does include a naked photo of her, though. And so on and so forth.
But perhaps more frustrating is that Hell himself remains mostly two-dimensional throughout. He reflects, but ultimately rather blandly. While he does include some very insightful thoughts about the nature of drug addiction and how it colored his world, when he stops, he just, um, stops. There are hints of something more, but more is never provided.
Hell is a good writer and the book, such that it is, is quite readable as far as it goes. But it is unclear exactly what prompted him to write this at this point. There is certainly a market for books by and about seminal and interesting figures in the late 70's and early 80's NY music scene, and Hell has not had a serious single volume devoted to him and his obvious influence on that scene and early "punk / new wave" in general. Perhaps this is his preempting someone else from having a go at it. And while his influence is large, he never enjoyed much of a payday from it and perhaps this is a way to see some money. If so, I certainly don't begrudge him that. But for someone who WAS a major influence, and someone who IS clearly a talented writer, this is more perfunctory than satisfactory. Perhaps there will be a Vol. 2 someday, that will take him closer to the present and allow us to get to know him better. Otherwise, why bother?
13 internautes sur 15 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
As someone who has read and appreciated Richard Hell's previous works, TRAMP is a most rewarding read for the primary reason that this is as intimate and unabashed as I've ever seen him on the page. He sustains it and as a result we get to see different shades of him, even the unflattering ones. What is unmistakeable is that he seeks truth (being an avid journaler, for one, and because he is a disciplined researcher and collector of minutiae) - most especially, emotional truth. He can only speak for himself, and that's what he accomplishes in his deft, unapologetic, wonderfully wry way.
He wants to be known and the thrill of this book and truly, the tenor of all his work, is that in reliving defining moments of his life, he riffs on himself in a way that is fresh and iconoclastic. It's alchemy - this is a literary book, and its values speak to and argue with the whole historical genre of autobiography. He's saying his piece, not to win a pissing match, but because he's acutely aware that the printed page is his best - and perhaps now, the only - chance for him to come fully alive.
Specific high points:
- His portraits of the people in his circle. Even his most damning critiques are so intriguing that one can't help but think that scorn and affection are but two sides of the same coin for him. Anyone not worth his interest is simply not mentioned.
- His cultural references. If all you do is go through the book and highlight any reference to an historical site (say, a bygone NYC bookstore), or a piece of music, or a poet, or a movie, or whatever -- and then spend all day on Wikipedia looking everything up - that alone is worth the price of admission.
- His explanation of his creative achievements. This is the most definitive account of where his real roots are, e.g. poetry, cinema, the NY art world, and post-war suburbia and pop culture -- and what he considers his best contributions. He generously shares his thought process and motivations, even when it doesn't make him look particularly original or daring (though those moments are few). And because his values are essentially democratic -- perhaps any of us could've calculated and premeditated what he did, in that place at that time -- he's encouraging. But we didn't did we? His irreverent charm, more than anything, gives him the leeway to revel in his biggest victories, and as he tallies them with the losses, his sense of humor about it all is all the more impressive and endearing.
- His observation of others' creative beginnings. Bob Quine and Tom Verlaine in particular are given fascinating and astute treatments for their artistic impetuses, perhaps because he spent so much time with them. But even some of the women he mentions, even if their primary functions were as enablers or sex goddesses, are treated as creative progenitors in their own right. He brilliantly explores ways he and others contrived or improvised their personalities - in a way that's fascinating and worth noting, worth being immortalized! He romantically does that for himself but he also shares the spotlight with others. People who would otherwise be given only the most minimal or didactic treatment in the press are here, on his pages, otherworldly creatures full of youth and dark-edged beauty.
- And finally, the guy tried to cut off his own hemorrhoid! And admits it! It doesn't get any more punk than that.
13 internautes sur 16 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
"I wanted to have a life of adventure. I didn't want anybody telling me what to do. I knew this was the most important thing and that all would be lost if I pretended otherwise like grown-ups did. "
(Richard Hell reflecting on his childhood)
If you lived in that restricted universe that was the New York rock scene from 1969-1980, you'd know the name Richard Hell. With prep school friend TomVerlaine he formed the Neon Boys in 1969. (Both of their last names were made up. Hell was born Richard Meyers and Verlaine was Tom Miller but, but how can you become a rockstar with names like those?) In 1974, Neon Boys transmuted to Television. Then Hell left the group -there was a terminal disagreement with his old buddy Verlaine--and joined up with New York Dolls players Jerry Nolan and Johnny Thunders to form the Heartbreakers. And then, a year later, in 1976, Hell came into his own with the group that for a short while blazed across the avant garde Rock scene in New York like a flaming meteor, Richard Hell and the Voidoids. The band released two albums and played in an auteur-like but pretty rotten movie named after one of the group's most famous songs, Blank Generation. (Another of his songs was entitled "Love Comes in Spurts.") The group fell apart as Hell became increasingly addicted to hard drugs.
Hell eventually got off the drugs -partly by leaving music. He came out of retirement briefly in the 1990s in a group called Dim Stars, which featured Voidoids' guitar player Robert Quine, two refugees from Sonic Youth and one from a group called Gumball. But mostly now he writes.
He doesn't sugarcoat his past life in this intriguing book and he doesn't pretend to be a genius musician when he wasn't. Rock and roll, he says, is an attitude, one particularly well suited to disaffected sixteen-year-olds or older if they're emotionally arrested like he felt he was. "What excited me in music [was] being fast, aggressive, and scornful, but complicated and full of feelings." That's a good description of Hell himself. (About the Neon Boys, he writes: "We wanted to be stark and torn up, the way the world was.")
The most lyrical passages in this book are about the thrill of producing music and playing it for an audience. (".. the hilarious, incomparable intoxication of materializing into being these previously nonexistent patterns of sound and meaning and physical motion.")
Rock and roll is the only art form at which teenagers are not only capable of excelling but that actually requires
that one be a teenager, more or less, to practice it at all. ... Punk ... explicitly asserts and demonstrates that
the music is not about virtuosity. Rock and roll is about natural grace, about style and instinct. ... You don't
have to play guitar well or, by any conventional standard, sing well to make great rock and roll; you just have
to have it, have to be able to recognize it, have to get it.... It's all essence, and it's available to those who, to
all appearances, have nothing.
Hell overwrites at times, and he obviously wasn't a nice guy much of the time back then, but so what? He's the Real Thing and his life story should be appreciated for what it is.
8 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle
Forget the naysayers. Hell's book more than met my expectations. This is hardly his first book, he knows how to put together words and how to build up a rhythm, how to keep a person reading. Going in, I basically wanted to read about the following things:
* Early Television era, with emphasis on himself and Verlaine, their initial partnership and splintering.
* I like The Heartbreakers, so I wanted something on that.
* Impressions of the overall CBGB's scene.
* Solo work with the Voldoids, Robert Quine, touring, etc.
And that's all here, and committed well to words. He does go into detail about drugs and women, though usually in interesting and revealing ways. The book in general is revealing, but a little elusive. I greatly enjoyed it.
5 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Maria Callas. Edith Piaf. Richard Hell.
What in the world could these three have in common?
All three had a primal understanding that being technically perfect takes a back seat to the inner meaning and emotion of voice.
The similarity begins and ends right there.
Richard Hell is best known as the person who was the early force in developing the Punk culture of social awareness and alienation, counter-fashion, and raw music that reflected (rejected) the political climate of the mid 70s throughout the 80s.
He is lesser known as a published poet and writer. In this autobiography, the writing slips in and out from an almost diary-like innocence to rapturous, voluptuous descriptives that sink into your brain.
As he talks about his childhood, Hell recalls a moment of realization and awareness, the type that every child periodically has as they cross various thresholds of maturity.
One day, the child, Richard Meyers, looks at a creek near his suburban home, and for the first time, thinks about more than the water in front of him. There is now an awareness that the water flows far beyond his own world.
That common Kentucky creek is representative of a theme that continues. For better or worse, throughout his life, Richard Hell will look at his surroundings, but will always be lured by the promise of where and how the creek continues. The rush of 'next' is an addiction he indulges.
Enter the teen years. What are the goals of nearly every teen boy? Self-expression (certainly on a subconscious level), adventure, and SEX.
The 1966 New York art scene offers all, so the future Richard Hell takes the first of many seedy low-rent apartments there, and lives to honor those goals.
Self-expression? Poetry. Reading, writing, and publishing what would now perhaps go under the 'indie avant-garde' genre.
Adventure? Mix the above with people who would be future icons of the era, add on an endless supply of cheap (or gratis from those who are enamored or generous) drugs.
Sex? No, SEX. Add a guitar to the poetry. The rest follows.
From his first awareness of what lies south of his belt buckle, Hell is near obsessed with finding some elusive part of himself by losing himself in the secrets of women. Although he forms a tight creative, emotional, near soulmate-ish bond with childhood friend Tom Miller (re christened Tom Verlaine), his fascination with the all that is female becomes as strong as his love for heroin. In time it becomes just as all-consuming and destructive as the needle.
When it becomes clear that the end of his creativity and life is near, an angel of a woman tenderly and instinctively brings him back. Yet as sure as a junkie is still a junkie, he takes a step away, looks at the exquisite and delicate gift of her soul, takes a sledgehammer, pulls back, and with all the renewed strength she re-constructed in him, swings with such force that the beauty and serenity shatters beyond repair. He understands in some vague way the cost of betrayal, but is so used to clutching handfuls of sand that it only makes sense when it streams between his fingers.
In his own words: "There's a point where extreme, knowing drug abandon becomes a kind of delicious hell. You are in agony psychologically, and the drugs are like an act of infinite troubling detail, as if you're making a perfect living mosaic of yourself in another state than the agony that is reality."
As the infidelity is taking place: "meanwhile Lizzy is in the back of my mind and my heart was breaking, drily and brittle though, not as if I had anything to lose. It is quite possible for nothing to have any meaning.'' The near-manic flow of this particular paragraph perfectly reflects the situation.
There is a twisted irony. A simplistic explanation is as follows....a boy is driven to learn all he can, to touch every part of a girl, growing to be humbled and filled with gratitude when she is confident enough to share the most intimate parts of herself. He makes a conscious effort to cultivate more of those experiences, carefully documenting the particular joy of each one, but they soon become so commonplace that the deep appreciation and reverence slowly gives way to what will eventually become nothing more than another addiction.
As a rather feminist woman who enjoys the company of males, I can say that Hell's mind/emotions/perspectives are pretty much the same as many (not all) in his gender. The difference is in that he either chooses or has not learned to be 'correct', experiences are related without a social filter.
To have judgment on his reflections of women and their bodies, or parts thereon, is to deny his honesty. I'll go so far as to say that if one lives with a moral meter set on 'tsk-tsk', you will get little from this book, except for a sense of misguided superiority.
Hell is unapologetic. That is a key part of what makes this book what it is, it is not manipulated to suit the masses.
And that is why, no matter if you have a clue about the American punk movement or not, have never heard the name 'Richard Hell' or if you were/are a punk...this is still a fascinating autobiography.
Without anything that may be a spoiler, one only has to see the dedication of this book (to his wife) to know that the story does not end badly.
While his edge is still there, it would appear that it has matured.
After a recent 'Tramp' book signing event, a woman gushed online to Hell about how he was still 'hot'. I had to kind of chuckle, because although I could be wrong, a younger Hell would probably respond with a smile and a hard on, and already be wondering what kind of scent came from her...but I imagined the current Hell thanking her politely, then turning away with an eye roll, sneer, and a smile that she parted with her 25 bucks.