I didn’t hear about Lou Reed’s death until I switched on the news at about 10pm yesterday. I was watching football then a dvd (Jiri Menzel’s charming 1967 film Capricious Summer), and oddly for a couple of days I’d had Walk on the Wildside as an earworm!
I bought Transformer in late 1972 having heard that track once on the radio, I was 18 and at Leek School of Art, it was of course was perfect timing. My favourite track was Vicious, but Transformer is one of those rare albums with no ‘filler’ track.
This was a real alternative, the words frank and straightforward, offering a New York lifestyle of transvestites, drugs, art, sex, style which couldn’t have been more opposite to dull and dowdy Stoke-on-Trent and Leek! At the time I knew nothing of The Velvet Underground work but soon found out and loved that too.
As an art student you should be looking for the alternative, the shock, the rebellion, discarding the old, changing the world – I tried but wasn’t really up to it! It wasn’t just the music but the way he and others like Bowie looked. My idea of rebellion at the time was long hair, scruffy clothes and a long scarf – Lou Reed offered a transgendered uncertain edgy look. I tried for a very short while and very luckily there are no photographs!
Today’s photograph is of The World Trade Centre in New York, taken on an icy Sunday in November 1978, quite the opposite to the world of Lou Reed’s New York, but also a lost icon. It was taken with my Olympus 35RD on Ektachrome. As I was adjusting the picture in Lightroom for contrast I tried it out in black and white which I skewed to straighten it and added a red filter. Not sure which I prefer, though I think the coldness and ugliness of the building comes through best in colour.