by Richard Hell
You might recall Richard Hell, the leader of an NYC punk band called the Voidoids (Love come in Spurts, Blank Generation). Just as punk faded from a vital musical force to a stock garage band format, Mr. Hell left music for a career in poetry, which probably pays as well but doesn’t involve stage diving. He’s had a few slim books of verse published and now presents the world with a rambling story of Paul Vaughn and his lover, Terrence. The story flows from notes Vaughn made in hospital and ranges from mild gay pornography to incoherent ramblings to occasional passages of astounding literary beauty.
Paul and T, as he refers to Terrence, were poets writing the sort of free-form verse that’s so easy to produce but so hard to read. We find the pair in early 1970s New York where a $90/month one-room flop in the East Village was common and codeine cough syrup came over the counter. The pair bounces around the “scene,” then heads off to a very sordid Memphis and even seedier St. Petersburg. The story is vaguely off-setting, as Vaughn leaves his pregnant wife for T, and we explore a Times Square lifestyle I last read about in Bill Landis’ Sleazoid Express. I wouldn’t call this great literature, but I’ll give Mr. Hell credit for beautiful phraseology, even if his storytelling is occasionally hard to swallow.