Lou Reed and the Wise Child

With Pesach on its way, here’s some alternative reading about one of the themes of the chag. It’s from a 2014 essay by Steven Lee Beeber, on the Fathom site:

When I was writing my book about the Jewish origins of punk, The Heebie-Jeebies at CBGB’s, I referred to Lou Reed as both the Alter Kocker (old fart) Indie Rocker and the Zayde (grandfather) of the movement. I still believe these titles fit the man, but in the wake of his recent death, I have come to see that he is deserving of a third. Like the figure in the Passover Seder that he played annually in public, Reed was the Wise Child. Unlike his brothers, the Wicked Child, the Simple Child, and the One Unable to Ask, he saw both the tragedy and triumph of Jewish history.

It wasn’t always that way.

Read it all, here.  Lou Reed’s Jewish strand is the subject of this 2013 post of mine.

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It was a walk on the wild side for Holly

Holly Woodlawn - Source: Wikimedia

Holly Woodlawn – Source: Wikimedia

I stumbled across the news that Holly Woodlawn – the Holly from Lou Reed’s classic Walk on the Wild Side – died yesterday.

The Guardian has this:

Holly Woodlawn – Warhol superstar, transgender role model and inspiration behind Lou Reed’s Walk on the Wild Side – died on 6 December after battling brain and liver cancer. She was 69.

At 16, Woodlawn, then known as Haroldo Santiago Franceschi Rodriguez Danhakl, left home and hitchhiked to New York, a moment captured in Reed’s 1972 track:

“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 …”

The Guardian piece is here, with a good added piece of nostalgia about the whole Walk on the Wild Side crew, here.

That song will live forever, and rightly so. It is an almost perfect concoction, that serves up a super sharp snapshot of a time and place.

All our yesterdays are passing into history, along with the stars, the players, the supporting actors, and the witnesses. Sad. Inevitable, but still sad.

Rest in peace Holly. Rest in peace.

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The missing part of the Lou Reed obituary

As not seen at the BBC or the Guardian:

Perhaps even more than other American-Jewish rock stars such as Billy Joel and Bob Dylan, Lou Reed was fiercely proud of being Jewish — and included lyrics on behalf of Israel and against anti-Semitism in some of his songs.

I mention Reed’s Jewishness because not a single obituary I have read of him in the mainstream press mentions it, when for Reed it was an important factor.

Reed, who died yesterday of liver failure at the age of 71, was born Lewis Allan Reed to a Jewish family in Brooklyn. He said that while “he had no god apart from rock ‘n’ roll” his Jewish roots and standing up for Israel meant a lot to him. He was a frequent visitor to the country, last performing in Tel Aviv in 2008, and his aunt and many cousins live in Haifa and other Israeli towns.

Reed even had an Israeli spider named after him to thank him for his support for the country.

Read the whole thing, here.

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