When I Bought Lester Bangs a Beer
By Bruce Carleton
We were at Hurrah's, which was enjoying its place as one of only two "hip" discos (per our way of seeing things) in NYC, the other being the Mudd Club. So that would put this somewhere around 1978 I would think. Lester Bangs was laying into my buddy John Holmstrom for no reason, other than maybe he was unhappy that they didn't serve Romilar at the bar. It was all verbal, but it was pretty spiteful stuff. John would just walk away, but Bangs kept hounding him. I asked John why he didn't give any back. He said it would profit him naught to get into a slag-match with Lester Bangs. People already had enough unkind things to say about him (John), and that would just play into the gossips' hands. I couldn't argue with that... it was undoubtedly true.* But it rankled nevertheless. So when Bangs started in again, I walked up to him, calmly I thought, and poured my entire beer on his belly. His exact reaction is lost in the mists of time, but (a) no fighting ensued, and (b) he laid off John. A couple of years later I heard he died.
*FOOTNOTE: Years later John told me Bangs' beef probably related to the flap over the "Who Are the Real Dictators" article he had written for Punk years earlier. Even though Bangs himself had withdrawn the piece, he was accusing John of being being chicken in not running it. (Unless that wasn't it at all, in which case John will let me know and I'll correct this several years hence when I get around to it.) Anyway, you can read said screed on the Punk Magazine Website.
OF FURTHER NOTE: Lester Bangs wasn't the only celebrity I adorned in this manner. Go here to read about the beer I shared with Anita Pallenberg.
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