Richard Hell’s talk at The Strand has finally hit the store’s YouTube channel. You can watch it in its entirety above. The punk legend starts off by reading chapter two of his memoir, I Was a Very Clean Tramp, which he originally penned for Vice. “For a minute or two there, I was thinking, ‘I’m going to write this entire book for Vice — for the Vice demographic — because it felt so good,” he confesses. “It felt really natural to just be cold and sick.”
After the reading, Hell sits down for a q&a with Bryan Waterman that’s disappointingly free of Television talk (though they do discuss the influence of small-t television on young Richard Myers). But during the audience q&a, Hell gets into it a little: “In the book there’s an epilogue where something that’s been a strong component of the book — a message of it — which is there’s this guy who I hate [laughs]; in the epilogue I realize I don’t hate him at all. And part of the point of it for me was that anything in the book could’ve been written the opposite.”
That guy, he’s forced to confess, is Tom Verlaine, his onetime bandmate.
Then comes the inevitable question: how does Hell feel about the way the East Village has changed? Here’s his response.
For me, that tradeoff was totally worth it: that when I came to New York things were filthy and crime-ridden but there were penty of jobs, plenty of cheap apartments, and all the cultural stuff that was available then was as strong as it is now: great museums, movies from all over the world playing all the time, rock and roll clubs everywhere, great bookstores (of course, bookstores don’t exists anymore, most of them). I don’t know what I would do if I was a kid now because I hate roommates and you really can’t come to New York as a kid anymore unless you’re willing to live in a dormitory, so that’s a huge loss. I don’t know, I though maybe the big recession would clean shit up but that doesn’t seem to have happened.
Watch the rest of the talk above.