Back when New York was cool, we ate chickpeas, charred and rare steaks and smoked Marlboro's at Max's Kansas City, before it became a deli and CBGBs became a clothing store. We voted for Miss Subways on the graffiti covered A Train, we sat on the jumpseat in Checker Cabs, and...
There was Lou.
In his motorcycle jacket and shades, he oozed an illusive and unattainable coolness. He wrote dangerous songs about whores, pimps and heroin, a poet of the streets, with his driving guitar and that unmistakable whiskey and Pall Mall voice, every kid who picked up a guitar, wanted to be him.
Yesterday, as I turned the corner onto the reflecting pool and stand of trees in the shadow of the Julliard School of Music, I came upon a remarkable site.
Wafting through the canyons of culture that comprise Lincoln Center, echoed Lou Reed's haunting voice, at once abrasive, yet achingly beautiful. As I walked through the people standing in the trees, just standing there, I was reminded of the angels in Wings of Desire. The love was palpable.
My camera glided past one elderly woman swaying to the music, eyes closed and smiling, a mother holding her infant. All different kinds of people, young, old, children intently listening... and all there for the love of Lou. Spontaneously dancing, as if no one was watching, as if they were a thousand miles away... smiling, one would mouth the words, "And the colored girls go...do do do do do do do do do" ..."Take a walk on the wild side."
"I'm a musician and I love Lou Reed he's been a major influence to me and the background music to a lot of my life." a young man played a mean air sax solo on a long stemmed red rose to "Walk on the Wild Side"
One couple waltzed into the open plaza and began dancing with such abandon for 17 minutes. "Sister Ray" as a completely oblivious young man shredded his air guitar ...transported. Another danced over to the speakers and embraced them as if Lou were actually inside. "He was my best friend. We had breakfast every morning no matter where we were in the world."
I can't put into words the beauty of the moment, I'm so glad I had my camera. I do hope he knew how much he was beloved and the effect his music had on people, I like to think he did. He lived and loved fiercely, as the crushingly honest farewell his wife Laurie Anderson shared with us.
One amazing quote from such a quotable guy:
"On the road to adulthood there was a detour called 'The Guitar Highway' in which a lot of people get on, The Guitar Highway, they don't come back."
I, for one, am so grateful he found the offramp.