Pistols, and Iggy’s avant-garde weirdnessnstill earns him entree to recordingnstudios 20 years later.nBack in the 60’s and early 70’snDetroit also boasted the AmboynDukes, whose “Journey to the Centernof the Mind” taught many guitar playersna thing or 20 about feedback.nWhen the Dukes played they had thenaudience (figuratively) hanging fromnthe rafters, while the lead guitar player,nTed Nugent, attired only in a loinncloth, was literally swinging above thenstage. Nugent remains in the area,nputting out albums of metal rock thatndon’t have the lightweight aluminumntextures of the current bands. His isnmore like the steel that’s being rolled atnthe Ford Rouge Plant.nAnother, more successful survivor isnBob Seger, a performer who could bengiven the Vegas “hardest-workingman-in-show-biz”nmoniker (I’ve seennhim perform in shopping mall parkingnlots, local hockey rinks, and stadia).nSeger was “just a regular guy,” rebellious,nproud, and libidinous long beforenBruce Springsteen and John CougarnMellencamp figured out that there’s anwhole population out there with thosenfeelings.nSeger is probably best known nationallyntoday for his contribution tonthe soundtrack of Beverly Hills Cop 11,na film in which Eddie Murphy plays andisoriented Detroit cop in California.nOf course, crime and Detroit seem tongo together. Consider the career ofnGlenn Frey. When he was with thenEagles, he liked to forget his roots innsuburban Detroit. But the band brokenup and his career went nowhere untilnGlenn started crooning “You belong tonthe city” and appearing on MiaminVice — which is just a more scenicnversion of life in Detroit.nWhen the Rolling Stones callednDetroit the best rock and roll town innthe world, a comment captured live onnthe Get Your Ya-Yas Out album, thencity responded with a knowing sneer.nBut that was then. And just as Detroitnseemed to lose the edge in automotiventechnology, rock and roll went elsewhere.nSo in 1976 Lester Bangs wentnto New York. He free-lanced and becamena regular contributor to the VillagenVoice.nIn the undifferentiated incivility thatnis pop culture in New York, Bangsnreached out to find the edges. This isnone of the things that gives his writingna difference. Sometimes it’s an irritatingnone, but his style can be as arrestingnas a scene out of Clive Barker’snHellraiser. The mere fact that Bangsnwrote regulariy, sometimes cleady, oftenncoherently (although sometimes innan amphetamine babble), makes thenwork in Psychotic Reaction and CarburetornDung (New York: VintagenBooks; $9.95) worth a look. The booknoriginally appeared in hardback, whichnmakes about as much sense as a bandnrecording only on digital audio tape.nBangs’ is a pulp medium.nWhat that world is all about isncaptured cogently in a piece that Bangsnwrote on the Clash for the New MusicalnExpress, something of a BritishnSpin, in 1977:nThe politics of rock ‘n’nroll … is that a whole lot ofnkids want to be fried out of theirnskins by the most scaldingnpropulsion they can find, for annight they can pretend is thenrest of their lives, and whethernthe next day they go back tonwork in the shops or boredomnWHO ISN’T WHOnLIBERAL ARTSnNot unlike other writers, I suppose, Inbegan reading the Columbia LiterarynHistory of the United States (EmorynElliott, General Editor; New York: ColumbianUniversity Press; 1,263 pp.,n$60.00) with the index. It runs 50 fullnpages, double-columned, with roughlyn50 items to a page, most of them propernnames. Finding my own name spelledncorrectly — what a relief—I lookednaround for other contemporaries andnnoticed omissions that fell into severalncategories:nPoetry professors at Ivy League universities:nTheodore Weiss, EdwinnHonig, Daniel Hoffman, John Hollander,nMichael Harper, Keith Waldrop,nDaniel Halpern, Helen Vendler, RichardnEberhart, Robert Fitzgerald, StanleynKunitz;nSometime writer-editors of prominentnliterary reviews: John Leonard,nGeorge Gore, Andrew Lytic, FredericknMorgan, Harvey Shapiro, GordonnLish, William Phillips, Stephen Marcus,nRobie Macauley, Robley Wilson,nRobert Boyers, Herbert Liebowitz;nnnon the dole or American TVndoldrums in Mom ‘n’ Daddy’snliving room nothing can cancelnthe reality of that night in thenrevivifying flames when fornonce if only then in your lifenyou were blasted outside ofnyourself and the monotonynwhich defines most lifenanywhere at any time, whennyou supped on lightning andnnothing else in the realms ofnthe living or dead matterednat all.nThere is no use pretending that then50’s, into which rock and roll erupted,nwere anything but sterile, or that anshiftworker on the production linendoesn’t need to go crazy one night anweek. But rock and roll as most of usnexperience it doesn’t kill. Sometimes itnjust fades away, as it has done in Detroit,nalong with jobs and confidence innthe future. When Bangs’ one nightnbecomes every night, as it did for him,nthe consequences can be DOA.nGary Vasilash lives in Detroit.nHighly visible litterateurs: DonaldnHall, Andrei Codrescu, Howard Moss,nEric Bentley, Harry Levin, Louis D.nRubin, Howard Nemerov, James Atlas,nGeorge Steiner, Philip Lopate,nRosellen Brown, James Dickey, FranknGonroy, Wilfrid Sheed, Richard Gilman,nGeorge Plimpton, John Simon,nAnthony Hecht, Geoffrey WolfF, BradnLeithauser, George Garrett, ThomasnMerton, Dana Gioia, Anne Waldman,nJohn Giardi;nYounger pop novelists prematurelyninducted into the putatively prestigiousnNational Institute of Arts & Letters:nAnn Tyler, Paul Theroux;nAvant-garde heavies (even thoughnthere is a full, if peculiar, chapter purportedlynabout “The Avant-Garde andnExperimental Writing”): JamesnLaughlin, Dick Higgins, Richard Foreman,nRosmarie Waldrop, GharlesnAmirkhanian, Norman Henry PritchardnII, Emmett Williams, and Pedro Pietri;nwho, since their kind has always beennexcluded from such histories, can now,nso to speak, welcome the others to thenclub. Welcome.n— Richard KostelanetznMAY 1989/59n