Monday, January 16, 2006

Lou York Post Interview

From the New York Post:

Weathered but never dated, Reed, now 63, may look older than his colleagues David Bowie and Iggy Pop - Dorian Grays, both - but his music continues to inspire younger bands like the Strokes and Arcade Fire. And he remains less a grizzled statesman than a street-fighting man: sinewy build, pulled-pork skin, Gollum eyes, mug-shot mug. His scowl could make Santa Claus cry.

...Fans of his music should not expect snapshots of "the mean streets of New York." Nor should they imagine visual commentary on the Disney-fication of Times Square or gentrification of the Meatpacking District. On those subjects, Reed shrugs, "I'm not an urban critic. I get asked: 'What do you think of the underbelly of New York? Where can musicians live anymore? Manhattan's all for rich people now. You can't even live in Brooklyn anymore. Where can you afford to live?' I don't know the answers to those things."

Nor should fans expect the kind of intimate portraits that comprise his songs like that one about "Holly," "Jackie" and "Candy," and were depicted in some of the imagery in his debut photographic tome, "Emotion in Action."

Forget the underbelly, he says. "I wanted people to look at this other side of New York and see how beautiful some of it is. This living city. There're no people in the pictures, but the buildings in them were built by people."

Off the sidewalks and into the stratosphere, the images are abstract, haunting, surprising, really. Many of them were shot from Reed's own downtown apartment building window and rooftop. He calls the collection "a recording of the city's celestial light show - the blazing changes from dawn to dusk across the Hudson - an everyday recording of the majestic flowing sky and waters."

And that comes sans the dramatic oomph of the fallen Twin Towers, which he says, were not a direct incentive for the exercise. "I've lived here for years, so I've been watching this incredible light show every morning, every night.." For three years, he's shot it digitally. The result is the book and the show. Marveling over his alternately inspirational and suicidal shots, he says, "My God, this is Amsterdam! This is Paris! This is Denmark!" Yet all of "this" is Manhattan.

"Look at these vistas," Reed continues. "People forget Manhattan is an island. It's so extraordinarily beautiful, you don't have to go to Africa to see an amazing sky. Just look up! But people don't. It's not like it's not within reach of anybody. All you have to do is walk, and there you go! It's natural light. There's a certain time of day when the natural light is perfect. You have to ask yourself, Who's the lighting designer for this?"
When he talks about not being an urban critic, that is an example of Advancement. I would guess most people would expect him to take gritty pictures of New York, but that's not his reality anymore. His reality now is having tea with his wife and dog in the West Village, so it would be silly (and Overt) for him to pretend as if it weren't.

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