So I seem to be back to having Lester Bangs & Birdland’s “Kill Him Again” stuck in my head. It’s so agonizingly close to being a work of genius, in the same way that, say, Foreigner’s “Jukebox Hero” was. It would just need slightly less eccentric singing, or slightly tighter production, or something, and it would have been a perfect nugget of slightly leftfield rock and roll.
(People like to hate on Foreigner because they kept going way too long and because their songs were easy to like, but “Jukebox Hero” is as much about being young and being in Foreigner as it is about hitting the big time. I don’t think that would have been enough for Bangs, because he would have recognized Foreigner for the phonies they were, especially by the time they put out 4, but I think he probably would have admitted that “Jukebox Hero” is about as perfect a pop song as you’re likely to find. Anyway. I’ve loved that song since I was 9, and just about everyone I knew back then did too, so it bums me out to see people my age trying to act like they were always too cool to like Foreigner, or Loverboy, or Night Ranger. 80s hard rock 4EVA!)
Thinking about Lester again reminded me of Bruce Sterling’s story “Dori Bangs”. It’s an alternate history story about a world in which Lester Bangs met Dori Seda and they fell in love and didn’t both die way too young of dumb things (a combination of a bad cold and cough syrup abuse on Bangs’ part, respiratory failure caused by a flu and busted lungs on Seda’s part). Googling around for Sterling’s story ended up leading me to this page, and I think Ray is essentially correct. I love “Dori Bangs”, but that’s because I love the ideas in it, not because it’s a flawless story. There’s a lot more Lester than Dori in the story, and that just doesn’t seem right or true to me.
Dori Seda and her work aren’t very well known anymore, which is, to put it mildly, too bad. I only discovered her because she had a few comics in Twisted Sisters: A Collection of Bad Girl Art, which a girlfriend got me as a gift a long time ago. Dori’s stories are raunchy, self-aware and deeply funny, and she had a wicked way with a line. She lived in Berkeley and San Francisco’s Mission, and both places were a lot scuzzier than they are now. She makes early-80s grimy San Francisco and her friends (and dog!) come alive in a way that makes me feel like I missed a swinging party.
It’s easy to see why Sterling would have been wanted to speculate about what would have happened if these two oversized characters had hit it off, but in reality, probably nothing would have happened. Lester was famously retarded with women (although, according to Cynthia Heimel, yet another larger than life rock and roll character, he had his moments) and Seda’s love life wasn’t simple or strings-free enough for her to run off and marry a hairy New Yorker with self-esteem problems.
But it’s a nice idea.
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