New York University’s Fales Library and Special Collections hosts a reading from a new memoir, I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp, by Richard Hell, on Wednesday, April 3, 6:30 pm, Fales Library, Bobst Library, NYU , Third Floor, 70 Washington Square South (at LaGuardia Place). [Subways A,C,E, B,D,M to West 4th Street; 6 line to Astor Place; R train to 8th Street.]. Hell’s papers are part of the Fales Downtown New York Collection which documents the downtown arts scene that evolved in SoHo and the Lower East Side during the 1970s through the early 1990s.
A reception will follow the reading. The event is free and open to the public. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and title/date of the event.
A pivotal voice of punk, I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp (March 2013) traces his journey from the Kentucky hills to New York City—where he arrived with dreams of becoming a poet, met Ginsberg, and started the seminal bands Television, the Heartbreakers, and Richard Hell and the Voidoids. He’ll talk about his song “Blank Generation,” a defining anthem of the era, recall his friendships with Tom Verlaine, Patti Smith, the Ramones, and Debbie Harry.
"We lived in the suburbs in America in the fifties," Hell writes. "My roots are shallow. I'm a little jealous of people with strong ethnic and cultural roots. Lucky Martin Scorsese or Art Spiegelman or Dave Chappelle. I came from Hopalong Cassidy and Bugs Bunny and first grade at ordinary Maxwell Elementary."
Hell was significantly responsible for creating CBGB as punk ground zero; his Voidoids toured notoriously with the Clash, and Malcolm McLaren would credit Hell as inspiration for the Sex Pistols. There were kinetic nights in New York's club demi-monde, descent into drug addiction, and an ever-present yearning for redemption through poetry, music, and art.
“Richard Hell is most often thought of only as the first punk rock star, but that’s too simplistic. Richard is an author who links the European avant-garde tradition of France at the end of the nineteenth century to New York at the end of the twentieth,” said Marvin J. Taylor, director of Fales. “His papers show his deep knowledge of this tradition and how he became a touchstone for so many artists who were trying to express similar ideas. Richard’s archive is one of the pillars of the downtown collection here at NYU.”
The Richard Hell Papers consist of comprehensive documentation of Richard Hell's career as a poet, novelist, author, publisher, musician, and filmmaker. Materials include personal journals, manuscripts and materials relating to the publication of several works, correspondence, clippings, reviews, posters, photographs, film, video and audio materials, objects, and artifacts. In addition the collection contains financial and legal documents pertaining to Hell's publications, and musical career. The materials span 1944-2003 with the bulk of the material covering 1969-2003.
The Downtown New York Collection: The Richard Hell papers are a part of the Downtown New York Collection, which comprises some 10,000 linear feet of archives and nearly 15,000 printed items. The collection documents the downtown NYC arts scene from 1974 to the present. Other sets of artist’s papers Dennis Cooper, Martha Wilson, Richard Foreman, Robert Blanchon, Lynne Tillman, Lenora Champagne, Jimmy De Sana, Dean Johnson, John Sex, and David Wojnarowicz. Artists collectives like Artists Space, A.I.R. Gallery, Group Material, Exit Art; theater collections like Mabou Mines, Theater of the Ridiculous, Eye and Ear Theater, Ohio Theater; and more than 70,000 audio and video recordings round our the holdings. The downtown collection is the only collection of its kind in a research library and is heavily used by students, scholars, and others interested in the creative world of downtown New York.
About Fales Library and Special Collections: The Fales Library, comprising nearly 255,000 volumes, and over 12,000 linear feet of archive and manuscript materials, houses the Fales Collection of rare books and manuscripts in English and American literature, the Downtown Collection, the Food and Cookery Collection and the general Special Collections of the NYU Libraries. The Fales Collection was given to NYU in 1957 by DeCoursey Fales in memory of his father, Haliburton Fales. It is especially strong in English literature from the middle of the 18th century to the present, documenting developments in the novel. The Downtown Collection documents the downtown New York art, performance, and literary scenes from 1975 to the present and is extremely rich in archival holdings, including extensive film and video objects. The Food and Cookery Collection is a vast, and rapidly expanding collection of books and manuscripts documenting food and foodways with particular emphasis on New York City. Other strengths of the collection include the Berol Collection of Lewis Carroll Materials, the Robert Frost Library, the Kaplan and Rosenthal Collections of Judaica and Hebraica and the manuscript collections of Elizabeth Robins and Erich Maria Remarque. The Fales Library preserves manuscripts and original editions of books that are rare or important not only because of their texts, but also because of their value as artifacts.