Spaulding Bogosian

Not as political as the Other A-Holes, but yet the kind of Funny Meanderings of a Jersey Guy

Friday, January 22, 2010

Screw Lou (A Memoir)

Everyone who's ever had a real brush with fame raise their hands. Alright, you can put your hands down now. I'm gonna spin a yarn (so sit back). This isn't as much about a brush with fame as much as its about carrying on a dysfunctional relationship with someone who isn't even aware of your existence. 
Celebrity is an interesting phenomena. It affords the person the ability to have an impact, negative or positive, on peoples lives without ever acknowledging their existence. 
Here's my story:
It must have been 1988 or '89 and I was living in New York. Although New York City is a hotbed of celebrity inhabitants, it's not like L.A. where you can't swing a dead cat without hitting “Bud” from married with children. No, you could live in New York your whole life and unless you like to lunch at the restaurants around Rockerfeller Center or run in Central Park you may never bump into a celebrity. There's just too many damn people, and New Yorkers tend to be more low key fashion-wise so everyone kinda looks the same. Unless your Howard Stern and you look like Big Bird on Sesame Street, you could be a major talent and walk around unaccosted for the most part. I have run into to the marginal talent, and even the major one but I am rarely star struck, and for the most part I don't make it a habit to intrude. That said, I am dining in a restaurant on the upper west side one Saturday evening, I believe it was an asian place, and excuse myself to use the bathroom. On my way as I meandered through the tables my eyes lock on an icon of rock and roll. There before me at about 10 o' clock sits none other than Lou Reed. Well, normally in these situations my mind says hey that's pretty cool, and I go on with my life fairly unaffected. But this was Lou “Fucking” Reed! A musical pioneer and genuine rock and roll royalty. So I uncharacteristically made my way in his direction. He must have noticed me out of his peripheral vision before I even got to the table and braced himself for the encounter.
“Mr. Reed, I'm sorry to interrupt your dinner but I just wanted to say that I'm a big fan.” 
He already had an expression of exasperation on his face and my eyes averted briefly to the fetching female that was sitting with him. I saw her do the shade the eyes thing with her hand to her forehead and elbow on the table and she seemed to be bracing herself for something as well. When I turned back to Lou he was rising from his chair and now almost nose to nose with me he spoke, loud enough for the whole restaurant to hear.
“Did it dawn on you that I'm having a conversation here. Can't a person go to a fucking restaurant and have dinner without being bothered by every stupid fuck that feels they has the right to insinuate themselves into my life. I mean for christ fucking sake go away!”
Holy Shit, did Lou Reed actually take time out to chastise me in front of an entire restaurant? I was in shock. I mean yeah I was embarrassed, but also, it was kinda cool in a way that he got so personal with me.
Although, now I was kinda pissed at him too. I mean what a colossal prick! I didn't touch him or try to shake his hand. It was adulation in the briefest, most benign form. He could have waved me off but he actually took time out to embarrass me. 
“Sorry Lou.” I coward, muttering curses under my breath as I continued on to the bathroom. I stood in the bathroom getting quite angry and actually had to calm myself down with splashes of water to the face. I thought about going out there and chastising him in front of the restaurant for being such an ass. Why did he seek out celebrity anyway? Eventually I peed, came to my senses and made my way back to my table, getting odds looks from more than a couple of fellow diners. Finally sitting down with my date, who was laughing so hard at me I think she made Lo Mein come out of her nose. 
I carried that night around with me for a long time. Retelling the story every-time Lou Reed came up in conversation. I even stopped listening to his music for a while without consciously making the decision. 
For more than fifteen years I feuded with Lou Reed.
Only he didn't know it.
Lets skip ahead to winter 2005. I now have a family, three beautiful young boys and we have just finished a wonderful vacation in Turks and Caicos. We are standing in line at the quaint little airport waiting to check in, and my boys notice a tiny little dog. I'm a big dog kinda guy so I can't quite place the breed, some kind of Cockapoodle or schnitzerdoodle or something. Not my type but cute.  I follow the leash up to a hand, at the counter talking with the agent I see an older gentleman look down at my boys with a kind of grumpy face. It takes a moment because he's aged quite a bit since our last encounter but I see it. It's LOU! Uh oh, I think. He's gonna rip my 3 year old a new asshole for touching his dog. 
I tried to step in and head it off, “Theo, leave the dog alone, I'm sorry sir.” Intentionally not acknowledging his celebrity.
“That's alright, he won't bite”, Came a familiar grumbly reply. 
“Thanks.” I said and hung back.
Holy Shit. Lou Reed was being nice to my kids. I don't know if he's mellowed with old age or maybe I caught him on a bad day 15 years ago, or maybe he just wanted to make an example of me in front of everyone to avoid further interruptions. Either way Lou Reed redeemed himself. The feud had ended. I could throw away the hostility I'd felt all these years and listen to “Satellite of Love” again without thinking what a fuck he is. I could hear “Dirty Boulevard” without wanting to tie his ass to the back of a pick-up and drag him down it. I for one felt better. Like me and Lou had mended fences and we could be friends again. Though I still wouldn't give him the satisfaction of recognition. 
It's funny to wonder what Lou might think of this feud that raged for 15 years if he'd known about it. And I would still probably be in a Caribbean prison if he'd had the nerve to yell at my kid. 
All this sort of occurred to me this past summer, as I geared up to watch him perform at Lollapalooza in Chicago. I was sitting there thinking how out of place was this guy. Most of the kids there never even heard his name before. And I thought, he's got to do his hits for these kids. He's got to open with “Walk on the Wild Side” so they know who he is. Now one thing about these multi stage festivals is that they are timed down to the minute. The reason for this is, number one so you can schedule your day and constantly be seeing music. And another reason is because there are 3 bands on after you and frankly it's rude to everyone. So, in typical Lou Reed fashion he went on stage 25 minutes late. What a self centered fuck. When he finally went on he opened with “Sweet Jane”. I said that's cool, and although I'm a fan, it was way too mellow for a festival crowd. After something very obscure and “Dirty Blvd.” and taking time out to scream obscenities at his sound guys (which almost made me flinch due to bad memories), he launched into some masturbatory long feedback infused piece of crap that I left halfway through. Vampire Weekend was on another stage and I couldn't wait to catch the end of their set even if it meant walking half a mile. It was cathartic watching him crash and burn in the eyes of the Rock and Roll youth. At last we were all able see this dinosaur for who he was, although talented, a narcissistic ass with no joy in his performance. He really could care less about putting on a good show. And I was no longer bitter. I was apathetic, yet I felt a sense of closure. It was no longer just me, now there was thirty thousand more people saying “Fuck You Lou Reed”. Thanks Lou, for all you were, I'm sorry things didn't work out for us.

Labels: , , , ,