an essay by chief book critic Michiko Kakutani on Lou Reed's visions of New York City over the years. Heaven and hell. Pretty good. And a reminder that the public memorial for Lou takes place this afternoon at Lincoln Center outdoors, with non-stop music.
Reminds me that back in early 1971, I helped edit a lengthy essay/memoir by the late Lou Reed for Crawdaddy, and I wonder if it's his first published piece. Of course, years later, he wrote many articles and reviews and, of course, poems, but I don't know if he did before 1971. He had left the Velvets and worked in an accounting office for a spell, before signing with RCA. He was about to launch a solo career that would soon go well. I had just started at Crawdaddy as the #2 editor and we put together a special feature section on Stars with pieces by Lou, R. Meltzer, Lenny Kaye, Viva, and others. (I also contributed a profile/interview with Ray Davies.)
Anyway, Lou stuck to the subject of stardom, under the title, “Why I Wouldn’t Want My Son To Be a Rock Star, Or a Dog Even.” He observed that "being a star means you get fucked. Not only by groupies, male, female and neuter, but by family, friends, promoters, record company men and managers." Being a star, therefore, mostly means learning "to say no."
But not everyone can be a star. Among other witticisms, he noted that “Today, even Katharine Hepburn, who is a real lady, is not a star since: She does not play guitar or piano. She is not vulgar. She does not take acid. She wears bell bottoms only on holidays.”
On a more serious note, he recalled a poet friend who “died quite ignominiously in the Hotel Dixie after a drinking bout.” He was “a real star…but since he did not act like a star no one believed him.” (Different hotel, but I wonder if this was Delmore Schwartz.) He closed with advice to your rockers on how to reach stardom and get the double-album, girls and a billboard in Times Square. Then you will "deserve to say anything at all. Or, not say anything at all." (Photo: Lou with raisins in Crawdaddy, 1968.)