A Memory of Lou Reed
I met Lou Reed and his wife, Laurie Anderson, through a mutual friend. Over the last three years of his life, my girlfriend Vera and I got to spend a little time with them, dining together and going to the theater. It was a double pleasure for me and Vera, since in addition to being long-time fans of Lou and Laurie’s music, we found them to be terrific company, accessible and fun.
One night in the spring of 2011, Lou, Laurie, Vera and I went to see the play Jerusalem on Broadway, which had arrived in New York amid lots of buzz after a successful London run. Its nearly four-hour length seemed daunting, however, and the opening act bored us. Lou, during the first intermission (out of two), seemed particularly unhappy. About the drama’s protagonist, a drunken ex-motorcycle stuntman named Rooster Byron, Lou snarled, “If that idiot considers himself a Harley beast, he’s got another thing coming.”
Uh-oh, I thought. Here was Lou’s infamously truculent side, the scourge of music journalists the planet over. (Asked in the November 2013 issue of MOJO Magazine if he planned to join the current bandwagon and pen a rock-star memoir, Lou snapped back, “Why would I? Write about myself? I don’t think so. Set what record straight? There’s not a record to keep straight. I am what I am, it is what it is, and fuck you.”) Because I was the one who’d suggested we see Jerusalem, I felt responsible now for Lou’s displeasure. This anxiety was foolish, of course—you win some, and you lose some when it comes to choosing plays, as with all else—yet I wanted Lou to like me. Who wouldn’t want Lou Reed to like him? And while I felt certain that Laurie wouldn’t blame me for my inferior aesthetic choice, I wasn’t so sure about Lou.