So Long, Lou Reed: A Walk on the Mild Side Brings Back Memories…

I made Lou Reed laugh once. A long time back (I think it was 1986 or 87, but my memory is a bit fuzzy), I ran into him downtown around St. Marks Place as I was walking to a friend’s place for a birthday party. I recall it was around sundown with fading light and he was coming out of a small shop I don’t recall the name of. As I stopped to nod in his general direction (what I usually did when encountering a celebrity type on the streets of NYC) a trio of Asian tourists (a guy and two women) recognized him and asked if he’d pose for a quick photo with them.

Since I was only about five or so feet away (and probably grinning like a nut on the loose from Bellevue), one of the tourists looked in my direction and smiling as if he’d won the biggest lottery ever, motioned me over pointing to his expensive camera and asked me to snap a shot or two. Of course, I jumped at the chance and three shots later (because I got my thumb in the way on the first picture), handed the camera back to the guy who now wanted ME to pose with Lou. I declined, as I’m not the “Lookit me with the star!” kind of guy (and back then I was a lot more camera shy than I am these days), but Lou was in a pretty good mood and said “Come on”, waving his hand up and forward…

Of course, I stupidly declined again saying I was late to a party, but a bolt of courage hit me and I tossed out a “Can I ask you a quick question, though?”, not thinking he’d say yes. “Sure”, Lou replied. Now, you’d probably thinking it was going to be about whatever he was working on, maybe something about the Velvet Underground or even if Metal Machine Music was a joke no one who hated it got after all those years. Nope. I asked him if that was REALLY him doing that dancing at the end of the “I Love You Suzanne” video on MTV. Yes indeed, he burst out in a laugh that made one of the women jump, while the other one started laughing as well. I wasn’t sure if that was a yes or a no, but I nodded, smiled and said “gotta run!” or something silly like that before scooting merrily away, my good deed done for the evening.

Amusingly enough, I met Andy Warhol in a movie theater not long afterwards. He was with a companion a few rows behind me at a nearly empty theater on the Upper East Side playing Howard the Duck (yeah, that’s right). I wasn’t sure it it was him at first or an imposter, but after the film was over, I went to the restroom and as I was washing my hands afterwards, he and his friend walked in. Yep, it was Andy all right. I didn’t say a thing to him either (Rule Number ONE of meeting any celebrity: NEVER walk up to them in a restroom!), by the way. And finally, some modern weirdness: For some reason, all this past week, I’d been thinking about Lou Reed songs and went looking for my Velvet Underground CD box set which is somewhere in the Bins of Doom (TM) here just so I could get the tunes out of my head (or at least here the words and music more correctly). For some reason this always happens before an artist I like flees this mortal coil. I can’t explain it at all, but I guess Lou wouldn’t mind me unearthing some of hos old stuff and taking it for a spin. You should, too…

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