Sunday, October 27, 2013

R.I.P. Lou Reed (March 2, 1942 - October 27, 2013)

Yeah, I know: it's hard to wax melancholic for someone as deliberately abrasive as Lou Reed.  Somehow, the idea of blubbering, shaking and/or crying at the news of his death doesn't seem to fit The Lou Reed Persona - surely one of his most deliberate and lasting creations - one bit.  So I won't; instead, I'll share my Lou Reed story.  It seems that nearly every New Yorker (or at least every New Yorker who'd care about Lou Reed in the first place) has one, and this is mine:

It was the late '90s, and I was on line in the venerable East Village used record store St. Mark's Sounds, waiting to buy a handful of CDs. Slowly, it dawned on me that there was something really familiar about the older guy in the leather jacket on line in front of me.  Then the "slowly" part ended, and I had two thoughts in quick succession: (a) I think that's Lou Reed, and (b) somehow, I expected him to be taller than that.

I decided not to say anything right away, although I had my confirmation as to Reed's identity quickly; in his unmistakable speech (which, as you undoubtedly know if you're reading this blog, is exactly the same as his singing voice), he began to bitch and moan at the clerk about not being able to use his credit card or something.  As this droned on (not unlike Metal Machine Music really), I realized that I would be saying nothing at all to Lou Reed.  Why?  For the exact same reason it's hard to eulogize him: it seemed entirely predictable to me that any sort of "pleasure to meet you, I enjoy your work" from me would be met with the exact same "yeah, right, go get bent" attitude he was dishing out to the clerk.  But to be able to tell people I stood on line behind LOU REED and listened to him complain about not being able to charge his cheap, promo-copy used CDs?  Priceless, as they say in those dopey (ahem) credit card ads.

Eventually he paid cash and headed out.  We made eye contact, and I nodded at him; surprisingly, I got a nod back.  We both bought our music and spilled back out onto the street - just another perfect day in lower Manhattan.

Thanks for everything Lou, you cantankerous genius.

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Edited to add a personal favorite of mine, a brilliant bit of writing as timely now as it was in 1989.  If you're like me, I'm sure a minor miracle will do.  Amen, Lou.

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