Wednesday, June 26, 2013
the last book I ever read (Richard Hell's I Dreamed I Was A Very Clean Tramp, excerpt seven)
from Richard Hell's I Dreamed I Was A Very Clean Tramp:
Dee Dee would often come over to my apartment to visit and we would go around the corner and get ourselves each a bag of dope from the baby runners. Dee Dee was practically a baby himself, in his boy bob and his eagerness. It never occurred to me at the time, but I’ve read that Roberta says that Dee Dee secretly would have liked to be a Heartbreaker. This might have been true a couple or five years later, when he’d become a hard-core junkie. I can imagine him chafing at the regimented comic book style of the Ramones and wishing he could be in a real happy-go-lucky bad-boy band that attracted the more fun girls and wouldn’t try to hamper his drug use. But back in 1975 he seemed happy in the Ramones; he was excited about them. At that time he didn’t know any of the Heartbreakers but me.
Dee Dee, like Johnny and Jerry, and Richard Lloyd, and Gruen, never much cared about the quantity of factual content in the stories he told. He was probably the most uninhibited fabricator of punk anecdotes of them all, especially since he eventually published a lot of “autobiography” and gave a lot of interviews and was such a comic riot. He was like a boy Marilyn Monroe or Jessica Simpson with his cute dizzy-dumb persona. In rock and roll, in show business, there’s not much value placed on integrity. People say and do what serves their interests and what seems entertaining. That’s just as well, if for no other reason than that it’s inevitable. Ultimately what difference does it make what actually happened? Things look different from different perspectives, and the conquerors write history; and what reality do the stories of the past have except as entertainment and mythology? Obviously, “reality” is slippery anyway. “Print the legend,” as advised in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.
Still, to me, it’s interesting to try to figure out what’s actually going on, what really happened. I want to get the most accurate idea I can of the way things are. To me, that’s a lot of what “art” is about. Of course I have my vested interests too: even disregarding any pride involved, my earning power depends partly on my reputation and my role in past events, so I might try to straighten the record where I regard it as misrepresenting me. But I try to be as faithful to what happened as I can, however what happened might reflect on me. I want that to be part of my reputation too. Whereas Dee Dee’s purposes were served more by keeping it funny, and maybe “funny” is more real than “true.”