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October 28, 2013

I’m Glad I Spent it With You: On the Passing of Lou Reed

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Just a perfect day
you made me forget myself
I thought I was someone else
someone goodOh, it’s such a perfect day
I’m glad I spent it with you
Oh, such a perfect day
You just keep me hanging on
you just keep me hanging on

– from Lou Reed, Perfect Day

If this site was more about words, I’m sure I’d be putting in the effort to articulate the profound impact Lou Reed had on me — to permanently experiment, to let others fret over categories, to just follow where it leads. Instead though, this site is about the language of images, photography being one of the pools Reed waded in. You know his quote: “I’m sure God owned a Leica?” It seems that thing a rocker has for his guitar, Reed also had for cameras.

Although I’m not that familiar with Reed’s three books of photography, I was drawn to two pictures. The first, above, has been widely seen as it’s one of the promo images from his last photo book, Rimes Rhymes. It shows a youth (the gender ambiguous, not surprisingly) looking at the camera in what seems like one-third wonder, and the rest fear or terror. Rather than riff on that photo, however, and what it potentially expresses of Reed’s early psychiatric travails and time spent down the rabbit hole, I was struck by the parallel (and dialog) with a second image found in the multimedia collage-heap in the pictures section of Reed’s website.

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If the second photo is in any way a reprise of the first, what it seems to be letting us know is that Reed did keep on. And if the fear remained (as it does in most of us), he grew to see it, and to look through it if not to see past it. …And to share. To the extent the odyssey of the artist can typically be fixed in in one of three categories, personal destruction, recovery or transcendence, these photos use those themes — like it always was with Reed — as just more theater, more ironic material.

With Reed, that was all.

(photos: Lou Reed)

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