Laurie Anderson on her loving relationship with Lou Reed:
“Lou and I played music together, became best friends and then soul
mates, traveled, listened to and criticized each other’s work, studied
things together (butterfly hunting, meditation, kayaking). We made up
ridiculous jokes; stopped smoking 20 times; fought; learned to hold our
breath underwater; went to Africa; sang opera in elevators;
made friends with unlikely people; followed each other on tour when we
could; got a sweet piano-playing dog; shared a house that was separate
from our own places; protected and loved each other. We were always
seeing a lot of art and music and plays and shows, and I watched as he
loved and appreciated other artists and musicians. He was always so
generous. He knew how hard it was to do. We loved our life in the West
Village and our friends; and in all, we did the best we could do.
Like many couples, we each constructed ways to be – strategies, and
sometimes compromises, that would enable us to be part of a pair.
Sometimes we lost a bit more than we were able to give, or gave up way
too much, or felt abandoned. Sometimes we got really angry. But even
when I was mad, I was never bored. We learned to forgive each other. And
somehow, for 21 years, we tangled our minds and hearts together.”
“I’m reminded also of the three rules we came up with, rules to live by. And I’m just going to tell you what they are because they come in really handy. Because things happen so fast, it’s always good to have a few, like, watchwords to fall back on. And the first one is: One. Don’t be afraid of anyone. Now, can you imagine living your life afraid of no one? Two. Get a really good bullshit detector. And three. Three is be really, really tender. And with those three things, you don’t need anything else.” -
Laurie Anderson, with ‘Laurie and Lou Reed’s rules to live by
Artist: Laurie Anderson Track: Sharkey’s Day Album: Mister Heartbreak Label: Warner Bros. Year: 1984
If you had been hanging around with my friends and I, in the early 1980’s; driving around in Pete’s Chevy Beauville van and working our way through a hundred lot of Gooney Bird… chances are that you would have heard the following tapes playing on the ghetto blaster.
Laurie Anderson - Mister Heartbreak
Nash the Slash - Children of the Night
The Stranglers - V
Pink Floyd - Piper at the Gates of Dawn
That C-90 tape we had recorded of a skip in a Beethoven song
First vinyl were my parents' records, Fleetwood Mac and Linda Ronstadt. But my friend had Michael Jackson's Thriller and The Muppet Movie soundtrack on vinyl, much cooler lol . We did have an 8-track player, and the only one I can vividly remember was a Simon & Garfunkel one. First cassette tape that I bought myself was I think Paula Abdul. But I did listen to the ones my dad had, my favorite of those being Paul Simon's Graceland and the Alan Parson's Project. No clue for first CDs/itunes. hmmm
OH YES LINDA RONDSTADT!! I got into Fleetwood Mac later, like high school? I was listening to a lot of pop then too, and a lot of Styx, and Grateful Dead. The Muppet Movie on vinyl is, like, the EPITOME of cool!! Graceland came out when I was in late high school and I think I wore out that cassette. Oh and Laurie Anderson, I listened to a LOT of Laurie Anderson. Lou Reed. Queen. Bowie. Duran Duran of course. College was also the Indigo Girls, 10,000 Maniacs, Shawn Colvin, REM. Pink Floyd. I am definitely an equal opportunity music ho. xox
I was bicycling along Sunset Blvd today, going from my apartment in Los Feliz to UCB Sunset when I suddenly missed New York City so deeply I had to pull over and stop for a moment.
I’ve been in LA for a year and a half and I love it. I wasn’t having regrets. It was just a surprise moment when the chemicals in my brain combined and I could suddenly remember very distinctly what it felt like to be walking along the avenue in Manhattan, feeling like the most interesting person in the world just for having the goddamn guts to live there.
I lived in NYC for (gulp) 17 years and had several lifetimes while I was there. Most of my memories are attached to the UCB theatre, which I was involved with for the final 13 years. But oddly when I’m missing NYC my brain takes me back to the very first two years, when living there was such an exciting novelty that I would sometimes just run down the street as fast as I could, overcome with the reality that I had actually moved to New York.
My first job in NY was for a finance company in midtown. I had to be there by 6:30am, and I would take Microsoft Word documents containing financial predictions for the stock market, and I would have to format them as text documents which would accepted by then-new online financial news services. I was done by 3pm. All for a decent salary and generous benefits package. This job, although boring, made me feel safe enough to come to the city from rural New England and so I was grateful for it.
I’d get out of the subway at 6:15 am at the 50th street stop on the 1/9. The streets were still quiet at this time. You could smell all the coffee being brewed in the bagel carts, and sometimes see the newsstands opening up. I’d buy a coffee from the same guy and walk across 50th street.
The only people up were either finance people in their suits and big thick coats OR service industry people going to work their shift cleaning/cooking etc.
I’d see Letterman’s studio to 2 blocks up to my left, and Times Square 7 blocks down to my right. I knew where DC Comics’ and Mad Magazines’ offices were and I’d look up at them, too (they had Superman logos and thing in their windows). I also walked by Rolling Stone’s offices (2nd floor of a building on Sixth Avenue) and you could see guitars and magazine covers on the walls through their windows.
I was so excited just to know how to get around in the city. How the subway worked, where my restaurants were, where to buy clothes, etc. I was for REAL and everyone else in the world were COWARDS.
At my job, the finance jerks were jerks, which thrilled me in that they were fulfilling their stereotype. Lots of dumb dirty jokes, lots of impressively tailored suits. They were all crude (men and women) but they were also smart and capable which for me made them easy to work with. It was my first job that more than covered my rent and so I felt like the richest man in the world, even though I was the poorest guy in the building.
I’d sit at my desk and start editing the Word Docs. I had a “squawk box” which meant I could hear the morning meeting of the finance guys going over what they thought the market would do. I remember hearing the meeting the day after a big plane crash from a discount airlines Valu-Jet. The airlines guy was so mad because the company had been poised to really turn a big profit but this “one, OUTLIER of a STUPID accident” had thrown those plans into chaos.
Every time the Dow broke another 1000 points, there would be a champagne toast by the reception desk.
One of the researchers was a brassy chick from Hoboken who’d tell me about the idiots she’d met in bars the past weekend. Another guy, the youngest researcher in the company, grew up on the Upper East Side, was obssesed with the Foo Fighters and would tell me about his family’s insanely opulent vacations. One of the temps was getting her doctorate in sociology and was dating an editor from The Nation and she invited me to their joint birthday party at which I met Lemony Snickett (whatever his real name is). A woman in my department was from China, and it turns out lived in my apartment building, splitting a room with her older sister. She told me a crazy story about how on her deathbed her Mandarin Chinese mom had given her a list of ethnic preferences from which to choose a husband. First: Mandarin Chinese. Second: NYC Jewish. Third: Cantonese Chinese. In last place was Vietnamese! She once surprised me at my apartment with some Chinese meal where some rice is wrapped up in what looks like corn husks, and I feel like she was flirting with me but I was at least a personality change and a half from being bold enough to do anything about that.
I got out in time to do an open mike at FOUR O CLOCK PM up near Columbia University. I started taking an improv class at Chicago City Limits because a guy on the Real Estate Trust desks had let slip that he took one. I was funnier than HIM, I knew, so that emboldened me.
I subscribed to the New York Times. I dropped off my clothes to be washed and they got delivered to my door. I fell in love ten times a day with people I’d see on the street for five seconds. I saw Allen Ginsburg do Buddhist chants in Central Park. I saw Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon do a (ridiculous) concert. I went to CBGBs and saw insane bands including Hellvis and Fly Ashtray. I bought the final issue of the initial run of Love and Rockets Comics at St. Marks Bookstore. I attended a taping of a They Might Be Giants live album in my first month there. I walked by Woody Allen directing a scene. I passed Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson going into the Union Square movie theatre. I visited Jack Kirby’s birthplace, as well as Spider-Man’s. One Saturday morning, I walked the entire length of Broadway from 218th street down to Battery Park. I saw the Red Sox when they came to Yankee Stadium. I met a cool journalist from Columbia who looked as hot as Jodie Foster and had gotten a 4.0 from UC-Berkeley and we dated a few years. I went running in Riverside Park – from Grant’s Tomb all the way down to the statue of Eleanor Roosevelt. I read the Village Voice and the NY Press and I’d scour the comedy listings to see what was good. I got stand-by tickets and saw a taping of SNL (Teri Hatcher hosting, Dave Matthews Band musical guest). I saw Dave Chapelle and Ray Romano do a show at the Comedy Cellar. I was watching a show at Gotham Comedy Club when David Brenner dropped in and did a set. I saw the U-C-fucking-B before they had a theatre.
Everyone wants that comparison: New York vs LA? Which do you like better? I was asked that when I had lived here in Los Angeles for three days! We humans, we do love to rate and list and compare.
The real answer is that it doesn’t matter, that it’s comparing apples and oranges. NYC is ten million people and is probably the oldest Real City in American. LA has four million, perfect weather and was founded ten years ago. They’re on different scales. Your life is more about your internal mindset, and whether or not you have 3 or 4 closest friends to connect with.
I don’t regret leaving NY at all! I’m so happy here it’s crazy. But it still hits me hard now and then, how cool it was.
Laurie Anderson wrote a beautiful, brief obituary for her husband Lou Reed.
To our neighbors:
What a beautiful fall! Everything shimmering and golden and all that incredible soft light. Water surrounding us.
Lou and I have spent a lot of time here in the past few years, and even though we’re city people this is our spiritual home.
Last week I promised Lou to get him out of the hospital and come home to Springs. And we made it!
Lou was a tai chi master and spent his last days here being happy and dazzled by the beauty and power and softness of nature. He died on Sunday morning looking at the trees and doing the famous 21 form of tai chi with just his musician hands moving through the air.
Lou was a prince and a fighter and I know his songs of the pain and beauty in the world will fill many people with the incredible joy he felt for life. Long live the beauty that comes down and through and onto all of us.
— Laurie Anderson his loving wife and eternal friend