…down memory lane? Not what you’d expect from Lou Reed, who’s done a lot of his strolling on the “wild side.”
People of a certain age have a fondness for the man’s unique talent. If your home, or adopted home, is CNY, the fact that he spent his college years at SU may add to the appeal. And Lou Reed gets extra points for not forgetting where he came from.
Bono, David Bowie and writing prof and author Mary Karr were among those paying tribute to Lou, when they gave him the George Arents Pioneer Medal for excellence in the arts the other night at the W Hotel in NYC’s Union Square. It’s near the spot where he used to play with the Velvet Underground, longer ago than many would like to remember.
As he’s often done in the past, Lou managed to make the event as much about his mentor and professor, Delmore Schwartz, as himself (both of their names are on an S.U. creative-writing scholarship that begins this fall). Lou dedicated the bulk of his short speech to Schwartz, recalling him saying, “Lou, if you ever write for money, I will haunt you if at all possible.”
Lou can now count himself among the 231 alumni who have won the award since its inception in 1939 — a motley crew that includes Senator Joe Biden ’68, William Safire ’51, Ted Koppel ’60, Dick Clark ’51, Vanessa Williams ’85 and many educators, artists, businesspeople, scientists and others. And if the evening was more like a walk on the Upper West Side than a walk on any wild side of anything, well, who’s to blame Lewis Allen Reed ’64 for stopping to smell some roses during these golden years that many — including, probably, him — thought he’d never see.
How about Lou Reed for commencement speaker? Well, only if they let him bring his guitar, and promise to let him say whatever comes to mind.