Article & Photo By Chris Epting 

So the first time I ever saw Lou Reed, I was about 13 years old, riding in the back of a taxicab in New York City over on the west side by the Port Authority, back when there were still tons of prostitutes and dope dealers on almost every corner, and there he was, just like he always appeared in the magazines and on the album covers, looking as bad and tough as ever in blue jeans and a black newsboy cap and a T-shirt emblazoned with the “Main Man” logo (which was David Bowie‘s company) and which I found very cool because all of us kids knew back then that Bowie had transformed the rock-n-roll animal at a time when he really needed it, and so it was an electric thrill to see Lou Reed for the very first time, wearing something that meant something, at least to those of us that were paying attention back then, and when I said to the cab driver, “There’s Lou Reed” he got excited and called out the window “Lou Reed!” at which point, Reed coolly nodded once at the guy before crossing the street and leaving the scene, so of course, that night I went home and played Coney Island Baby in my suburban bedroom, not really knowing that many of the songs were written for Reed’s transvestite lover named Rachel, but it wouldn’t have made a difference anyway, because who would I have been to question Lou Reed? I mean who would anybody have been to question Lou Reed, when you really think about it, because this was a guy who did things on his own terms without caring too much about what others thought, as so beautifully evidenced by Metal Machine Music, which I didn’t really understand until later, but I still sort of thought was cool when it came out, like I did when pretty much any Lou Reed album came out, whether I liked it or not, I always found it cool and then years later, in about 1985, when I was in the men’s room at the Apollo Theater and Lou Reed actually asked me if I had a match to light his cigarette, I thought back to all those albums and that day in a taxicab, and I almost couldn’t believe it was him there, and I really wish that had a match, but I didn’t, and when I said I didn’t, he turned without saying a word and left, and for a long time after that, I kept matches on me just in case I ever saw Lou Reed again and he happened to need a light, but of course I didn’t, and of course I kept listening to all the music over the years and then started to go see him play live, at which point I really started to understand the meaning of Lou Reed, because until you saw Lou Reed live, I’m not sure it was possible to really grasp what this guy was all about, and each time I saw him, no matter what kind of mood he was in that night, and man, his moods could vary, I still felt smarter and cooler than I would’ve had I not seen Lou Reed, and all of these fragments of thoughts all were pieced together last year in my brain in a little record store in Long Beach, California, where I got to sit and photograph Lou Reed and look at the lines in the face and think about the places he’s been in the songs he’s written and the people he’s known and just how powerful it felt to be standing right next to him, occupying his attention, even for just a few moments because Lou Reed was one of those artists that forced you to think, and forced you to feel, and sometimes even forced you to look away when things got a bit too intense, and that to me is what being an artist is all about, and that’s why I mourn Lou Reed’s passing so strongly and that’s why I will always listen to Lou Reed because it seems today that true and dedicated artists are becoming more like dinosaurs, and while I love dinosaurs, I think I’d enjoy them a lot more if they were still here, in the same way I wish Lou Reed was still here, because when Lou Reed was still here, you knew that there is at least one artist left that would end up doing the things that he wanted to.


A Sentence About Lou Reed
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