Thursday, January 19, 2006

Lou Reed at Salon.com

Here's some of the article from Salon:


The first thing Lou Reed does when he walks into the Steven Kasher gallery, which will open one-half of his first major New York photography exhibit, "Lou Reed: New York," on Friday, is make fun of my name (too punny). The second thing he does is make fun of my tape recorder (too low-tech). Then, after he scolds the genial gallery owner about the font of some signage that displeases him, he settles in across a table from me, arms arranged protectively before him, fixes me with that cold stare that's oft been called reptilian and takes my questions.

Well, he doesn't exactly take my questions, but he does talk to me, and over the course of the next 45 minutes -- longer, much to the surprise and confusion of the trio of press handlers eavesdropping on our conversation from behind a half-wall, than our scheduled time -- the rock icon reveals himself to be a man of opposites, as high-contrast as the Warhol-era photography that first seriously inspired him to pick up a camera nearly three decades ago.

A notoriously difficult interview -- he has called journalists "vermin" -- Reed, 63, is, in fact, fiercely protective, even evasive, speaking over some questions, refusing to answer others, putting me on notice every step of the way. But as he carries our conversation along, with me and my ignored list of questions trailing hopefully after him, it becomes clear that something else is going on here: Reed is yearning to make contact, longing to be understood. C'mon, babe, he seems to be saying to me as, mid-interview, he reaches out and gives my hand an encouraging pat, take a walk on the wild -- or at least the wildly colorful -- side.

That's where his photography comes in. Reed's photos, which will also be shown uptown at the Gallery at Herm├Ęs and compiled and released as a book, offer the world a chance to look at New York through Lou Reed's eyes. Taken over the last three years, some of them from the window of Reed's own apartment, the photos are a vivid exploration of light and movement, and they are surprisingly beautiful, even -- dare I say? -- sentimental. Devoid of people, replete with brilliant sunsets and neon, they're certainly not the gritty-underbelly shots you'd expect from the man who, in his Velvet Underground days, turned out songs like "Heroin" and "Sister Ray." But Lou Reed, who catches me off guard by enveloping me in a warm hug as we wrap up our interview and then pulls me back into the gallery to look at one last photo he's sure I'll particularly enjoy, is nothing if not a man of surprises.
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And then there's an interview. These are good days for Lou Reed!

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