WEIRDLAND: Lou Reed & Jim Morrison: Moralists between Irony and Sentimentality

Friday, June 30, 2017

Lou Reed & Jim Morrison: Moralists between Irony and Sentimentality


A student group in Canada apologized for playing Lou Reed’s 1972 hit “Walk on the Wild Side,” claiming the song is transphobic. The Guelph Central Student Association, a group at Ontario’s University of Guelph, said it regretted including the song on a playlist at a campus event. “We now know the lyrics to this song are hurtful to our friends in the trans community,” the group wrote in a (deleted) Facebook post, “and we’d like to unreservedly apologize for this error in judgement.”

The lyrics in question concern late trans performer Holly Woodlawn, whom Reed knew from Andy Warhol’s Factory: Holly came from Miami, FLA. Hitchhiked her way across the USA. Plucked her eyebrows on the way/Shaved her legs and then he was a she/Hey, babe, take a walk on the wild side. The student association said it would be “more mindful” in choosing music in the future and offered to speak with anyone who heard the song and “was hurt by its inclusion.” They added that the lyrics appeared to be “problematic” because they “dehumanise and fetish” transgender people by suggesting they are “wild.” Those who knew Reed say the concern is misplaced: “Lou was open about his complete acceptance of all creatures of the night,” said Jenni Muldaur, a friend of Reed’s and former backup singer: “That’s what that song’s about. Everyone doing their thing, taking a walk on the wild side. I can’t imagine how anyone could conceive of that. The album was called Transformer. What do they think it’s about?”

“I don’t know if Lou would be cracking up about this or crying because it’s just too stupid,” producer Hal Willner said. “The song was a love song to all the people he knew and to New York City by a man who supported the community and the city his whole life.” Hal Willner, who recently completed a reissue of Lou Reed’s later solo work, said: “This song was how the world first heard about these people. It’s a song about love. The students should be focusing their anger on other stuff and this isn’t it.” Source: www.independent.co.uk

In heterosexual men, pictures of rotting flesh, maggots and spoiled food induce the same physiological stress response as pictures of two men kissing each other. That is the surprising finding that was recently published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Psychology & Sexuality. Measuring levels of salivary alpha-amylase, a digestive enzyme that is associated with stress and is especially responsive to disgust, allowed the researchers to examine the men’s physiological reaction to the photos. “In comparing the salivary alpha-amylase responses of participants to the various slideshows, we found that participants had higher salivary alpha-amylase responses to the images of two men kissing and the disgusting images, even those with very low levels of prejudice.” The study is the first of its kind, and the researchers hope that future research will strengthen their findings. Source: psypost.org

Shelley Albin: "Lou Reed is a very fifties type guy. He's ultimately straight. He wants his wife, Sylvia, who is a very fifties type girl, to take care of him." As much as Reed's sexuality was pondered, he had a long time girlfriend in Shelley Albin, and married three times. Reed even admitted his heterosexuality when initiated his relationship with Sylvia Morales. Reed's Ecstasy album addressed the failed marriage to Sylvia Morales (in the songs Baton Rouge and Tatters - she wanted kids, Reed obviously did not) and then he came with Set The Twilight Reeling, which dealt with his need to become "the newfound man, and set the twilight reeling" with Laurie Anderson.

Ellen Willis, the first rock critic for The New Yorker wrote “The Velvet Underground” essay, included in fellow critic Greil Marcus’ book “Stranded” (1979). “The songs on ‘The Velvet Underground’ are all about sin and salvation,” Willis begins. The crux of Willis’ essay is that Lou Reed managed to exist in that rare space between irony and sentimentality, to avoid slipping into either the snarl or the smile. His music was an exercise in rejection, but not the knee-jerk anti-establishment hostility. It’s a rejection of rejection, a fight against both the nihilism of punk and the boppy, commercial vibes of pop music. “For the Velvets, the aesthete-punk stance was a way of surviving in a world that was out to kill you,” Willis writes. “The Velvets were not nihilists but moralists.” Willis explains, “Their songs are about unspeakable feelings of despair, disgust, isolation, confusion, guilt, longing, relief, peace, clarity, freedom, love—and about the ways we habitually bury them from a safe, sophisticated distance in order to get along in a hostile, corrupt world. Rock & Roll makes explicit the use of a mass art form was a metaphor for transcendence, for connection, for resistance to solipsism and despair.” Source: www.nydailynews.com

Lou Reed: "For every one of my songs, I know which line is my favorite. All of those lines jump out at you in some way. They’re upside-down, or they’re darker, or they come out at you. Because that line also gives you the rhythm and allows you to touch other people’s hearts. Probably most people have five, ten songs that are really milestones in their lives and upon hearing them, just change their mood. Everybody remembers the song from their first date or the wedding song. We really do attach songs to moments. Probably one of the reasons I’m still around is because I can’t fulfill some people's expectations. They don’t like what I do, and I don’t like them either actually. I walk away because I can only take so much of music industry nonsense, before it starts to get debilitating or depressing, how low the bar gets to be. I’m exposed to the horrors of these people. But at a certain point, I think people learn not to come to you. You’re just the wrong person. They know that it’s hopeless." —Interview by Stefan Sagmeister (2008)

At George Washington High in Alexandria, Virginia, Jim made the honor roll with little effort. He had an I.Q. of 149. Jim was a precocious performer, too. When running into a pretty girl, Jim played the southern gentleman: he would bow and recite a Shakespearean sonnet. His first steady girlfriend at George Washington High was Tandy Martin. The pretty and straight-laced brunette at first found him smart, funny and cool. Then he started getting weird on her. One time, he dropped to the floor of a crowded commuter train and yanked off one of her saddle shoes. Tandy’s mother had warned her about Jimmy from the start. “He seems unclean, like a leper,” she’d told her daughter. The couple broke up senior year after Tandy accused Jim of “wearing a mask” all the time. Jim broke down in tears, saying he truly loved her. He supposedly lost his virginity to Mary Werbelow, a Sun’n’Fun beauty queen, whom he met in Clearwater, Florida. Meanwhile, he excelled academically, writing scholarly papers on everything from “The Sexual Neuroses of Crowds” to the surrealist paintings of Hieronymus Bosch.

Jim also took to the stage for the first time in a student production of Harold Pinter’s, The Dumbwaiter. After his junior year, Jim saw his father for the last time. His mother insisted he wear new clothes and get a haircut, so as not to look like a “beatnik” on arrival in San Diego. Jim begrudgingly consented. But no sooner did he board the USS Bonnie Dick, than Admiral Morrison sent him to the ship barber for a regulation Navy haircut. Thinking he had fulfilled his duty, Jim asked the commander permission to transfer from FSU to the UCLA Film School, among the most radical liberal arts programs anywhere. Permission was denied. Jim, now 21, cashed in a trust fund and enrolled anyway. His parents disinherited him. Or, as he Jim preferred it, he disinherited his parents. From now on, he would refer to himself as an “orphan.” —"Jim Morrison: Orphan" (2014) by David Comfort

A Cosmic Mating: He looked out across the room. He saw her from the stage... As his cue came up Jim Morrison caught her eye. She smiled. As Jim walked off the stage at the end of the set, she was waiting for him with a beer at the bottom of the stairs. "I think I love you," Morrison said. She asked "what happened here?" touching the side of his face where he still had some cuts from the debacle of the biker bar. "Critics," he joked: "what's your name?" "Pam," she replied. She was aching for a way out and shared with Jim a baggie of mushrooms. Out back was a rusting swing set. They pumped their legs urging the swings higher. They let go and were rolling around in the cold dewy grass. "Just love me," Jim said. They spent the next couple of hours making love (Jim would rhapsodize how wonderful he felt sexually with Pam). They woke up the next morning feeling raw and vulnerable. "Do you think I like being promiscuous? I love you!" Pam blurted out. Jim didn't want to lose her. "We can rent a house on Norton Avenue. Or up in the hills, anything you want. Look, I have money." As all the true love stories, Jim Morrison's unique relationship with Pam Courson was utterly misunderstood. Some insiders thought Morrison was lost, at the mercy of the mentally depressed Pam, but they were dead wrong. Jim chose love and married Pam. Jim Morrison said that love was the answer. —"The Last Stage" (2008) by Jim Cherry

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