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Monday, October 28, 2013

Lou Reed, A Man I Didn't Know

by Kari Tervo

Everyone's writing about Lou Reed, because he died yesterday. What do I know about Lou Reed? I'm not here to write an informed eulogy, or an analysis of his cultural impact. I don't know much about Lou Reed, and I think that's why it's important for you to know what I think about him. I'm someone who was marginally involved in the interest of his image, but still so deeply impacted by it.

Who is Lou Reed to me?


Lou Reed is swagger. Lou Reed is "I don't give a f*ck." Lou Reed is "I am who I am, and I don't care about your smooth harmonies and social proscriptions, because this is what l like."

Lou Reed is heroin. Why can't we help our icons sweep the gorgeous mantelpieces of their brains with white kid gloves, intolerant of any (angel) dust? We can't. I understand Lou Reed died of complications related to a liver transplant, likely precipitated by health problems caused by dirty heroin needles.

I am making a proclamation: From here on, all cultural icons must be accompanied by health coaches and therapists 100% of the time, so they don't kill themselves by substance, gun, and/or uncertainty about their worth.

But if we did that. . .would we ever again have a Lou Reed? Someone who was so fearlessly himself in a time before fearlessly being oneself was lauded by internet pundits and people who have seen Heathers too many times? I think we got Lou Reed because. . .nobody really got Lou Reed.

Lou Reed was not a known quantity to me. But I guess he wasn't to anyone. I'll miss the constancy of his presence as someone who took the ultimate cultural risk: being yourself.

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