Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Where Were You in '72 … Tecumseh, Canada, or … “Beer Drinking Around the World”


The Golden House and Lester Bangs -- circa 1970's

Lester Bangs' Favourite Canadian Hangout - THE GOLDEN HOUSE - circa 1970's
(Golden House image courtesy of Doug Down)

San Diego native Lester Bangs made Detroit his home during his tenure as editor of the legendary (now defunct) Creem magazine, the original rock music magazine.

Creem dominated the pop culture landscape of the 1970’s while helping to usher in an era where rock music was starting to be seen as worthy of serious (or at least semi-serious) analysis and criticism, and Bangs was a larger than life figure who was probably the upstart magazine’s best-known writer.  A boozy blowhard who became legendary for his gleeful irreverence towards the very rock gods he wrote about and idolized, Bangs was also a world-class tippler who often escaped Detroit to drink himself insensible on the Canadian side of the border.  One of his favourite Windsor-area watering holes was The Golden House, a legendary Tecumseh pub that was a border city landmark for nearly a century before burning down in 1976.

Former Windsor Star music writer John Laycock recalls that Bangs’ presence on the Canuck side of the border became so ubiquitous that he was finally commissioned to write a piece for the Star about his favourite Canadian beers, which he gladly agreed to do once some modicum of payment was offered.  Laycock tells the story that, in those long-ago days before email and fax, Bangs attempted to deliver the article to the paper’s offices in person rather than simply mail it, only to be turned back by Canadian customs officials - apparently due to some previous examples of alcohol-inspired bad behaviour that caused officials to temporarily revoke the rock writer’s border-crossing privileges.

In any event, the article eventually found its way to the Star offices, where it ran under the presumably tongue-in-cheek title “Beer Drinking Around the World” and remains one of the notoriously hard-living writer’s few journalistic endeavours to be devoted to a non-music-related subject.  It is also likely his only known foray into any form of Canadian content.
Story by Christian Bonk
(additional thanks to Doug Down for images, & John Laycock for an interview regarding the story)