June 4, 2023

"I have a terrible memory, but I’ve always kept journals. A lot of the incentive to do the autobiography was that I’ve always been stumped and frustrated..."

"... by how you can’t have your whole life at once. You’re stuck at the moment of the present. It seems like you really get cheated because at any given moment you only have what it is at that moment, and I want all of it, not just whatever remnants there are that have whatever minuscule effect and vague presence now. But, yeah, I don’t have a great memory, and that’s part of why I’m really glad that I’ve written the books that I have...." 

Said Richard Hell, quoted in "How Richard Hell Found His Vocation/The punk-rock legend, who is publishing a book of new poetry later this month, speaks about nineteen-seventies New York, drugs, mortality, and the evolution of his writing" (The New Yorker).

Also: "Some people called me misogynist, and said, How come you gotta talk about the breasts of every girl you ever met? But I was talking about the breasts because I noticed the breasts, and I think anyone would. And I wanted it to be frank, because part of my object was to see what had taken place, myself, by just describing it moment by moment."

And: "When I was a kid, I thought of the poetry life as having these noncompetitive values—which isn’t to say that I’m not competitive, because I’m as competitive as the next person. But I had this fantasy of a supportive bohemia with no judgment. It’s really ironic how, even though there are no rewards in poetry, the little that there are, everyone’s so competitive about, and everyone is backbiting and striving for some kind of recognition in a way that’s probably more sordid than among painters, because there is actually a possibility of having some sort of comfortable life when you’re a painter, while the poets have to fight for scraps."


Kate said...

I misread that second tag word as "mammary". It's all I noticed, which is very important, and now I'll move on to my next moment.

Iman said...

Bodacious Tah-Tahs

rhhardin said...

There's always the problem of what do to about breasts. Yuja Wang goes for display. There must be dozens of other breasts on stage you nobody thinks of them.

gilbar said...

How come you gotta talk about the breasts of every girl you ever met? But I was talking about the breasts because I noticed the breasts,

What's the first thing you look for in a woman? It depends if she's walking towards me or away

Sebastian said...

"I noticed the breasts, and I think anyone would."

Anyone? One half of humanity, maybe.

"And I wanted it to be frank, because part of my object was to see what had taken place"

But writerly frankness easily shades into (the appearance of) cruelty. It's good for some artists to be "frank," but also good for most people to see but not say. Actual civility, and all that.

rwnutjob said...

Squeeze them together, push them up, then question my looking at them?
I'm not a biologist...

Quaestor said...

Women have been displaying their breasts for effect since the Minoans.

If women didn't want men to notice their boobs, instead of tank tops they'd wear burqas.

robother said...

Poets fighting for scraps. Twas ever thus: I seem to remember that circulation of John Donne's sonnets made Shakespeare up his sonnet game.

re Pete said...

"........with a mind that multiplied the smallest matter"

gilbar said...

I'm a Ramones fan, and was Never That Impressed with Richard Hell.. or the Voidoids..
BUT! i DO have to give them having one of the Best Song Titles of ALL TIME: Love Comes in Spurts

gilbar said...

In his book, The Naked Ape (which isn't really Very good), Desmond Morris claims that the reason (THE Reason) why female Homo Sapiens have such large breasts; is because we walk upright.

Most apes (MOST Mammals) walk on all fours, and their breasts are hid under their bodies.
Most female apes use their buttocks for sexual attraction.. NOT their breasts (since they're hid under)
Morris claimed that human breasts are large, to stimulate the same feelings that buttocks do;
but while walking on two legs (and from the front).
Interestingly, he didn't say much (that i can remember) about push up bras, or 5 inch stiletto heels..
which are Obviously Why GOD gave us large brains and intellect.
Am i implying that the entire purpose of civilization is to make human females More Attractive ?
NO! i am NOT implying it.. I am Explicitly Stating it.

tim maguire said...

It seems like you really get cheated because at any given moment you only have what it is at that moment, and I want all of it

He thinks like a child.

cassandra lite said...

"It’s really ironic how, even though there are no rewards in poetry, the little that there are, everyone’s so competitive about..."

In which Richard discovers human nature.

Reminds me of the scene from Franny and Zooey when Franny complains about "all the egos running around" (I quote loosely from memory), and Zooey points out that she surely wouldn't have wanted her beloved Emily Dickinson to have told her ego to shut up every time she had the urge to write a poem.

As for the breasts: Only someone who wasn't there would ask that question. I went to more than one party in Berkeley in the '70s when, while dancing, young women took off the tops (which were usually braless anyway)--but only the ones who knew they had the gawk-worthy goods.

Also in the '70s, I spent quite a lot of time on naked beaches on three continents. On those, an unspoken code of conduct developed: When talking to someone of the opposite sex, eye contact only. Which had the ironic effect of shortening conversations, because the compulsion to look down (and down) grew increasingly strong, and noticeable, so the only decent thing to do was cut things short. Dates weren't made until both parties were clothed.

n.n said...

The figure, the face, the eyes, the whole, the curves, the breasts. I would make a bad abortionist, because I could never deny the humanity of the baby... fetal baby. Set aside that a butterfly is an insect in its four stages of development and its variable designs. A worse diversitist.

Political Junkie said...

Memories....as a 12 year old boy, I certainly noticed the boobalicious girls before the flat chested girls. Not right or wrong, just was what it was.

Tight jeans were ok.

Now in high school, seeing the junior or senior girls in clingy sweaters. Shazam!!!!

Ice Nine said...

Notwithstanding the fact that the warped minds of feminists can make misogyny out of anything a man does, how in reality does appreciating the beauty of female breasts make one a misogynist? It speaks for itself as quite the opposite.

Free Manure While You Wait! said...

"Anyone? One half of humanity, maybe."

Plus the Lesbians.

Fred Drinkwater said...

Robert Graves, I believe, said something like "I write books like 'I Claudius' so I can afford to write poetry." I vaguely recall there was also a bit about cats in there somewhere...

Michael said...

Am I somehow supposed to know who Richard Hell is?

n.n said...

From Slut Walk to slicing, scalping, and simulation. You've come along way, bambina.

Earnest Prole said...

”Anyone? One half of humanity, maybe." Plus the Lesbians.

The research shows women enjoy looking at women’s breasts every bit as much as men do. Put differently, the male gaze is more properly called the human gaze.

Robert Cook said...

I loved Richard Hell and the Void Oids, (their slim recorded output notwithstanding).

Hell, (ne' Myers), was the template for what became punk style: chopped short hair and ripped clothes held together by safety pins, adopted and elaborated upon by Johnny Rotten, (ne' John Lydon), and the Sex Pistols. The Pistols' manager, Malcolm McLaren, briefly managed the New York Dolls in NYC during their waning months, and he saw Richard Hell while in NY. He was taken by Hell's style and image and asked him to come to England to front a band he was working with. Hell declined, and the singer's slot was ultimately filled by Johnny Rotten.

McLaren, quoted in the oral history of New York punk, PLEASE KILL ME:

“I just thought Richard Hell was incredible. Again I was sold
another fashion victim’s idea.... Here was guy looking like he’d
just grown out of a drain hole, looking like he was covered with
slime, and looking like nobody gave a fuck about him. And
looking like he didn’t really give a fuck about you! He was this
wonderful bored drained scarred dirty guy with a torn t-shirt. And
this look of spiky hair, everything about it – there was no question
that I’d take it back to London. I was going to transform it into
something more English.... I came back to England determined. I
had these images that I came back with...the image of this
distressed strange thing called Richard Hell. And this phrase Blank

British punks and punk fans, and Johnny Rotten personally, deny the derivation of English punk style from Hell's personal home made style, but the chronology and McLaren's own statement tells the true tale.

Leora said...

In a biography I read of Robert Graves, the biographer quoted a letter he wrote to a former classmate joking about making a living from what he learned at their boarding school. He may be one of the few who ever did.

Richard Aubrey said...

Was Graves referring to the classroom?

I kid.