Anthony DeCurtis Responds to Richard Riegel

[Anthony DeCurtis sent this in response to Richard Riegel's recently-posted critique, Cultivating the Bustle of Anthony DeCurtis.]

Two and a half years ago I wrote 750 words about Lester Bangs for a monthly column I write for Rolling Stone Online. To my recollection, they're the only words I've ever written about him, and anything I've said about him in interviews (including the one on this site) has been in response to questions I was asked. Far from being obsessed with or threatened by him, I rarely think about him. That Richard Riegel would feel compelled to write this piece after all that time says far more about his own obsessions than mine.

Beyond that, I can't say much about Riegel's speculations about my class background or academic interests because I recognize so little of myself in them. If anything, that upbringing has made me impatient with the dewy-eyed, beautiful-loser mythology that informs his notions about Bangs.

As anyone who cares to check out my work (including Rocking My Life Away) will find, I don't just write about superstars. Also, because I've been writing about music for nearly 25 years, not every superstar I've written about was a superstar when I wrote about them. As for my Bangs piece being called "priggish" and "status-conscious" by the self-proclaimed Dean of Rock Criticism, I'll let the irony of that stand for itself.

A few corrections. Though my column was occasioned by Let It Blurt and the media discussion about Bangs it provoked, it was not a review of the book. (I may be wrong about this, but I seem to recall the book getting a positive review on RSO.) I did not grow up in a neighborhood adjoining Greenwich Village, but in the very heart of it, on the west side of Bleecker Street. I did not attend NYU, but Hunter, a public college (free at the time) that is part of the City University of New York.

Finally, my Bangs column got one of the biggest responses of anything I've ever written. Most often, by far, that response has been, "Thank God somebody finally said it." That's why I wrote it in the first place, and why I stand by it.

Anthony DeCurtis
October 16, 2002

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Richard Riegel Responds to Anthony DeCurtis

I appreciate Anthony DeCurtis's reply to my essay. I regret slightly relocating the neighborhood where he grew up, and misnaming his undergraduate alma mater; I've asked to correct these items in my original piece to prevent confusion. In this spirit of constructive criticism, I would like to correct Mr. DeCurtis's impression that I consider Lester Bangs a "beautiful loser;" on the contrary, I regard Bangs as a beautiful winner not unlike Jimi Hendrix, someone whose glowing soul and earthly creations far outshine his too-scant years.

Richard Riegel
October 17, 2002

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