For a while I sent birthday cards to Lou Reed. I genuinely love his music – from Lou alone you get to the Velvet Underground, Bowie, Iggy, Bolan, and Andy Warhol; there’s a mind-opener for you. But the guy seemed so serious at the time; this was almost 20 years ago now and he was in a really dark place coming off of Songs for Drella and Magic and Loss. Wil Wheaton wrote a note this morning that maybe Lou was one of those “Don’t meet your heroes” kind of guys. I never met him, so I don’t know.
Anyway, I would send him these sappy, ironic cards in late February when it was freezing and work was boring and there was nothing better to do to amuse myself than write to interesting people and see if they would write back. A few weeks later, I would get a polite form letter from his office in New York, thanking me for the good wishes, and I would get a laugh out of it.
Then one year, this picture and a couple of CDs showed up with a note from his assistant saying that Lou was sorry his autograph didn’t show up so well; they only had black pens in the office. I don’t know if it’s real or not, but I like to think that some publicist in New York grabbed him one day and made him sign a picture for this strange guy out west.
I am also really glad that my 25-year-old self spent forty bucks that I absolutely couldn’t afford to see Lou Reed blow the roof off The Fillmore Auditorium.
Thanks for all the tunes, Lou. Our ears are still ringing.