The Stub Project: Lou Reed is an Asshole – Wiltern – L. A. – 3.18.1996
Lou Reed is such an asshole he probably has trademarked the phrase: Lou Reed is an asshole. Intriguingly, exuding all the ugly, musky elements of an unattended anus is an essential element of his stage act, yet it offers absolutely no entertainment value – except perhaps for the sniveling, callous-kneed sycophants in the crowd who are too lost and broken to realize that the only person Lou hates more than them is himself.
Sadly, Lou seems to believe that being an asshole gives him credibility, that it makes him real. The hideously leathered simian obviously thinks that the contemptuous puss that oozes from his essence somehow symbolizes his authenticity. Really, though, he’s just another asshole with a guitar. The world is littered with them. It’s all quite pitiful, especially since Lou Reed’s music is actually pretty great.
Oh well, Lou’s hate rules supreme and he is content to let his music take a backseat to his manufactured degenerate persona. By 1996, he’d been tirelessly honing the schtick of being an asshole for three decades. At this point, he didn’t even have to say anything, he just looked out on the crowd, almost shocked that he’s pulled off another heist, that people were still willing to put up with this shit from him. He is a perpetual eye-roll, the embodiment of practiced indifference. He is simultaneously a rich teenage girl whose favorite word is whatever and an old prostitute who is somehow still getting the big money even though she’s completely hollowed out inside.
Above all, this meeting was a business transaction; the New York bloodsucker had come to sunny LA to collect his toll. Like a streetwalker resigned to fulfilling her part of the deal, he went on to play “Sweet Jane” with the spiritual energy he probably generally reserves for moving his bowels. He hates his fans and he hates the songs that made him famous. We get it. His practiced scorn wafted like sour cologne, which very well may have been by design, for if given a chance Lou Reed wouldn’t think twice about whoring out “Sweet Jane” for a deodorant commercial, although he’d probably much prefer if the offer was for a douche.
By the fourth or fifth song, I could no longer play my part in this charade. So, I left. I’d seen Lou Reed before and it’s a similar experience to drinking Dr. Pepper. For some reason, in theory, I think carbonated prune juice sounds delicious. In a weak moment I might buy a bottle, fully realizing that in practice, Dr. Pepper is as refreshing as a trip to an overflowing Honey Pot. One swig and I’m done. Seeing Lou Reed is like that.
Besides, I’d come for Luna anyway. They opened the show. While clearly indebted to the Velvet Underground for their sound, their attitude is California all the way. As always, they were great.
Consider this a palate cleanser: