“Lou Reed is derelict and a faggot,” my dad said to me when I offered to share the Lou Reed album I’d just gotten as a birthday gift from a friend with him. I was fourteen, the album was Berlin, and it took a while to grow on me. It didn’t have the poppy hooks of the Bowie and Ronson produced Transformer, the sweet, slow-peeling wonder of The Velvet Underground & Nico, the last-ditch effort to write just under a dozen hits that made Loaded, or the groundbreaking weirdness that gave us White Heat/White Light. Berlin had a sense of melancholy and danger that I think crystallized Lou’s creativity. The sweeping tickle of piano keys on “How Do You Think It Feels,” will always send a chill up my spine. “The Kids,” and “The Bed,” will always make me tear up because of how well they flow into each other. I’d listen to Eater’s cover of “Sweet Jane” to remind myself that fourteen year olds could kick ass, I’d spend hours scouring the internet for a version of “Heroin” I hadn’t heard yet, never once thinking that having someone’s body of work at my fingertips was anything less than my right as a music lover.
Things got really trippy when I met Joe D’Allesandro (Little Joe) and Jayne County online through Punk Globe. I went straight into a world of people whose photographs I’d been clawing at. I knew from the first time I read about Max’s Kansas City, Warhol’s factory, and a dirty, glittering New York that my dad had only driven past in a taxi cab that these were my people. I told myself I’d get to interview Lou Reed one day.
I had one opportunity to meet Lou this past year. Of course, I had no idea he’d be there. Laurie Anderson was having her dress rehearsal with Kronos Quartet in the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at University of Maryland. My professor and friend, Johnna Schmidt invited me. Laurie and Kronos Quartet’s show was nothing short of sensory immersion, absolutely mind blowing. As the lights went up, a figure in a green jacket with a mop of curly black hair stood up. “Holy shit,” I said to Johnna, “there’s Lou Reed!” Johna went to get the car and I made my way over to him. Thanks to the carpeted steps of the theater and my gimpy little legs, I couldn’t get to him before he walked out. I wanted so badly to shake his hand and pick his brain. But then again, I’ve met my share of rock legends. I’m lucky enough to have a Kim Fowley interview in November’s Punk Globe. I hugged Sylvain Sylvain once after a long conversation, interviewed Cheetah Chrome and Richie Ramone, and am a regular contributor to the same magazine as Jayne County is. Even after all that, I miss the hell out of someone I almost met.