Ricki C. Calls "Bullshit" On Rolling Stone Magazine's Lou Reed "Tribute"

A coupla weeks ago I bet my good friend Joe Peppercorn of The Whiles five bucks that Rolling Stone wouldn't put Lou Reed on the cover of the next issue, that they'd half-ass his Death Tribute Remembrance by putting some jag-off like Ryan Seacrest or Miley Cyrus on the cover and just do a few pages on Lou's passing inside the mag.  The bet came about at a late-night discussion held at Quinn Fallon's Little Rock bar, after a gig at the Rumba Cafe where Colin's Lonely Bones opened a show for Willie Phoenix's new band, Blues Hippy & The Soul Underground.

The four people involved in the discussion were me, Joe, Colin, and Michael "Biggie" McDermott, road manager extraordinaire of Watershed, so we had at least three generations of rockers involved, ranging in age from 30's (Joe) to 60's (me), therefore rock & roll as it relates to mortality rates seemed an apropos topic.

I never welch on a bet, so I'm gonna pay Joe next time I see him, but I'm only paying off $2.50 due to Rolling Stone's bullshit move of putting Lou on one cover, but then running an "alternate" back cover of some half-naked Latina babe, so that each individual retail outlet can make their own decision on which cover to display.  (case in point: In the Giant Eagle, Kroger & Meijer I was in this week, the cheesecake cover predominated.  The only store that featured the Lou version was the oh-so-erudite Barnes & Noble.  Either way, it's a pussy move on Rolling Stone's part: why not one cover and the rack jobbers have to sink or swim with Lou?) 

The actual Rolling Stone coverage was equally watered-down & tepid.  (Not that I really expected better, Rolling Stone hasn't really been a rock & roll magazine since maybe 1969, when Jann Wenner made his rock & roll bed by championing hometown San Fransciscans Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead and leaving what he considered the Great Unwashed Midwestern Heathen Rock of The MC5 and The Stooges and the oh-so-nihilistic New York noise of The Velvet Underground out in the Great Rock & Roll Wasteland.  But I digress.)  The David Fricke article was workmanlike but hardly inspired and the remembrances from various rockers & arty film types ranged from touching (Reed's widow Laurie Anderson may almost have brought a tear to my jaded eye) to typical & rote.  (Why does Rolling Stone insist on having U-2's Bono contribute a full-page eulogy every time somebody dies?  It's like being born Irish entitles him to some Grand Vision we lesser Americans are not privy to.  I like Bono, but he's hardly James Joyce.  Or even Frank McCourt.)  And where were contributions from surviving Velvet Underground members John Cale or Maureen Tucker?

The low point of the "tributes" was Michael Stipe of REM's totally exclusionary, humorless casting of Lou Reed as an Outsider Gay Icon.  If I'm going to take Stipe's piece at face value, I myself, as a heterosexual working-class boy in the 1960's, would not have been permitted to enjoy the music of The Velvet Underground because I did not possess the Proper Hipster Cred that Stipe seems to want to demand of Lou listeners.  Shame on you Michael, rock & roll is supposed to be for Everybody, not just The Cool Kids. - Ricki C. / November 13th, 2013

ps. By far the best, most moving tribute I've read for Lou was by his fellow poet/rocker Patti Smith on The New Yorker website that my pal Hamell On Trial sent me.  Check it out here: