Lou Reed & the What Game


R.I.P. Lou Highness

Over a decade ago, a small band of good-time Charlies (some might have called them ne’er-do-wells) gathered in a private residence in Bigcity USA. There wasn’t anything special that brought them together that night. Just for kicks, to shoot the breeze, and to listen to music, probably a prelude to a longer night bouncing throughout some of Bigcity’s lively neighborhoods. Whatever the case, one aspect of the evening to this day has lived on quite clearly: one of the revelers introduced the idea of playing the What Game. This proposition wasn’t new to the group, but the game wasn’t a frequent thing for them either. Everyone capitulated eventually, the game commenced, and it lasted a while. For those readers who don’t know the What Game, it’s a simple word game meant to evoke laughter and sometimes, given the right stimuli and wordsmithery, tremendously contagious silliness. Players collect two small stacks of scrap-paper. On one stack they write questions that begin with the interrogative, “What,” which they then fold up and put into a bowl.  On the other stack, players write short random answers to questions that begin with the question-word, “What.” what-hiThe answers then go into another bowl. One by one, players take turns drawing a random question from one bowl followed by a random answer from the other bowl. À la Mad Libs, the questions and answers do not typically match up in a rational way, and often the absurdity of the questions and answers elicits a good deal of laughter. Now, returning to the evening with which this post began, legend has it that the What Game players in question were well into their second or third round, when someone drew the fated question: “What’s inside Bill’s pants?”What01

Naturally, most of the players found the question itself rather funny. Before an answer could be drawn, there was a significant pause, pregnant with snorts and clutched bellies, while the players blurted out potential answers they’d wished they’d written on their papers. The person whose turn it was to draw the answer to this goofy question unfolded the paper, her eyes quickly welling up with tears of delight. Trying to read what she saw on the scrap of paper, she gulped for air, and then let it out: What02

“Lou Reed on acid!” she roared, thrusting the paper forward for others to grab and read for themselves. They did, repeating the answer over and over, looking at Bill and nodding and pointing, smiles from ear to ear, tossing out witty follow-ups of some of Lou’s most majestic oneliners:

“…doing a rock minuet…”

“…you know that bitch will never fuck again…”

“…Herpes, AIDS, the Middle East at full throttle. Better check that sausage before you put it in the waffle…”

“…just like a bulb screws into a lamp, we were meant to be…”

And so on and so forth. Bill, to his comedic credit, and being the most gifted Sweet Lou lexicographer of the bunch, threw in his own lines and laughed his head off as much as the rest. lou-reed

What’s the point of this story?  Lou Reed’s music found a way, for many people, to suffuse more than just the airwaves. His streetwise, avant garde writing, always terse and often macabre, accentuated the ways in which some folks understood the world and others around them, perhaps even influenced the ways in which they chose to embrace or reject the realities they perceived. Lou’s observations and the images they evoked have punctuated individual and collective human experience in a way few other writers or musicians in the 20th and 21st centuries have. So when the small group of folks playing the What Game suddenly found themselves confronted with Lou Reed in the pants of one of their own, the thought was unreal, of course, but not entirely without merit for deliberation. Because so much of Lou’s artistry had occupied their worlds and worldviews theretofore, even this simple inanity was loaded with meaning, reticulated context, and has lasted as a tale worth repeating for over a decade.


Rest in peace, Sweet Lou. Your music, ideas, and images that were yet to come will be missed.  But thanks for the memories. You’ve given us many many good ones.

More Wilco and the Music Spectrum


Peashoot’s post on the Replacements cover (with Tommy Stinson, no less) got me spending the morning on Youtube. I found a boatload of covers they’ve done recently. Many of them with other musicians sitting in. Please do enjoy…

1. Friend of the Devil (The Dead) with Bob Weir

2. Cut your Hair (Pavement) from Solid Sound

3. Who Loves the Sun (Velvet Underground)

4. The Weight (The Band) – Bob Dylan invited Tweedy and others up to cover it

5. Versatile with Daft Punk’s get lucky

6. Tweedy covering Black Eyed Peas – really funny throughout

Come together, right now

I’ve always loved the Beatles’ Abbey Road album cover (and the music on the album is pretty incredible as well).  Beatles_-_Abbey_RoadJust the other day, I learned about a live webcam outside Abbey Road Studios in London that records the very same pedestrian crosswalk seen on the album cover, 24hrs a day, 7days a week. I looked it up. And I gotta say, it’s incredible! I’ve been right there at that spot — not on foot, but while on board a bus, and I recall the bus having to stop while some blokes lined up like George, Paul, Ringo, and John for a photo. After only 4mins of watching the live webcam, I saw three cars suddenly having to stop for folks lining up to pose for pictures. Honking ensued, naturally. It’s a terrific idea, really, which creatively serves as a testament to the mind-boggling genius and artistry of the Beatles. That so many people still visit this spot to recreate an image (not the music) of these four guys, so many years after they’ve stopped making music and global headlines, is really something to ponder. Here’s the webcam link:


While looking around for some images for this post, I found lots and lots that I liked. Such as this one of the Beatles sitting on a stoop. Looks like George has the others enthralled in a good story, perhaps about his latest visit to Rishikesh or a recent lesson on the sitar. But even better than this, is another photo I found of Mr. Paul Cole. He’s apparently the guy standing in the background on the original album cover next to the black police car on the right side of the road, between Ringo and John. I wonder who originally tracked him down?  Abbey-Road-Cover-Beatles-05Paul-Cole-Abbey-RoadAccording to the blog BuzzFeed Music, Mr. Cole didn’t even like the Beatles: “He thought they were just 4 ‘kooks.’”

Florida’s TCPalm online paper published the following interesting and funny piece about Mr. Cole in 2008 after he died.

In a 2004 interview with Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers, Cole explained how he came to be there at that precise moment.

On a London vacation with his wife, Cole, then a resident of Deerfield Beach, declined to enter a museum on the north London thoroughfare.

“I told her, ‘I’ve seen enough museums. You go on in, take your time and look around and so on, and I’ll just stay out here and see what’s going on outside,’” he recalled.

Parked just outside was a black police van. “I like to just start talking with people,” Cole said. “I walked out, and that cop was sitting there in that police car. I just started carrying on a conversation with him. I was asking him about all kinds of things, about the city of London and the traffic control, things like that. Passing the time of day.”

In the picture, Cole is standing next to the police van.

It was 10 a.m., Aug. 8, 1969. Photographer Iain McMillan was on a stepladder in the middle of the street, photographing the four Beatles as they walked, single-file, across Abbey Road, John Lennon in his famous white suit, Paul McCartney without shoes. The entire shoot lasted 10 minutes.

“I just happened to look up, and I saw those guys walking across the street like a line of ducks,” Cole remembered. “A bunch of kooks, I called them, because they were rather radical-looking at that time. You didn’t walk around in London barefoot.”

About a year later, Cole first noticed the “Abbey Road” album on top of the family record player (his wife was learning to play George Harrison’s love song “Something” on the organ). He did a double-take when he eyeballed McMillan’s photo.

“I had a new sportcoat on, and I had just gotten new shell-rimmed glasses before I left,” he says. “I had to convince the kids that that was me for a while. I told them, ‘Get the magnifying glass out, kids, and you’ll see it’s me.’”

One from Solid Sound

The_Replacements_-_Hootenanny_coverThis short cut alone would have made the weekend at Wilco’s Solid Sound Fest at Mass MoCA a success. Check it out, that’s Tommy Stinson with Wilco playing “Color Me Impressed” from the Replacements’ 1982 classic, Hootenanny.

Man o man, this song evokes some wild memories from many moons ago….apparently at Solid Sound Wilco played a slew of covers from some other great bands and artists, including VU, the Kinks, the Beatles, Neil Young, the Modern Lovers, Nick Lowe, Blue Oyster Cult, Daft Punk, and many more.

Word on the street is that you can download all of Wilco’s awesome covers from the weekend festival here, thanks to NYC Taper.

Street Art & Commentaire Social

La artiste Invader a de nombreux des pièces de «street art» à travers la ville de Paris. La plupart d’entre eux sont des images éponymes: c’est, ses œuvres sont images qui reflètent l’origine de son nom, qui lui-même est basé sur le jeu vidéo de 1978, «Space Invaders». Donc, vous voyez les petites créatures extraterrestres de ce jeu collées dans tout Paris, ainsi que d’autres villes, comme celui-ci au-dessus du pub à quelques portes de là où nous vivons.

InvaderContrairement à beaucoup de street art de nos jours, qui sont préfabriqués «paste-ups» qui ne durent que si long selon la météo et le vandalisme, les œuvres d’Invader sont des mosaïques. Ils sont faits de tuiles. Donc ils résistent aux éléments bien. Et ils sont souvent placés à des hauteurs bien au-delà de la portée des fêtards ivres typiques. Donc, à Paris au moins, on peut trouver un nombre de pièces d’Invader, qui semblent être relativement ancienne (par exemple, la collecte de la poussière, de la suie et la saleté de l’échappement des véhicules de la ville). J’ai vu ce que je présume sont les œuvres de Invader dans d’autres villes aussi, y compris New York, Londres, Amsterdam, Bonn, San Diego, et Manchester (je suppose que certaines de ces pourraient être copie-cat interprétations du style de Invader). Néanmoins, Invader est très prolifique.

À travers l’allée de la porte d’entrée de notre bâtiment à Paris, cette image est apparue il ya environ quatre semaines.

IMG_3573C’est une mosaïque de tuiles, avec le genre de couleurs qui évoquent immédiatement le travail de Invader. Mais il est très bas à la terre – en fait, Ronald McDonald est dépeint comme debout sur le trottoir entre les piétons. La pièce est aussi ouvertement politique, que beaucoup (sinon la plupart) de ses œuvres sont pas (ils pourraient être d’ordre politique, par exemple, par rapport à l’endroit où ils sont placés, mais comme «critique sociale» la plupart de ses oeuvres me semblent plus ludique que politique — quelqu’un de plus compétent que moi peut me corriger sur ce point). Il ya eu beaucoup de presse dans les quotidiens de Paris ces derniers temps sur l’évolution de la consommation alimentaire des Français, et comment fast food a des effets négatifs sur les jeunes hommes et femmes françaises, à la fois physiquement et culturellement.

Notre quartier se trouve également être un cœur de vie nocturne parisienne pour 18-35 ans, et du jeudi au samedi, il ya consommation d’alcool beaucoup ici, par conséquent, les matins des vendredi, samedi et dimanche, il ya de nombreux «pièges vomissent» (vomit traps) nous, les résidents de cette quartier, doivent esquiver.

L’image montre clairement le sentiment de l’artiste apropos la qualité de la nourriture McDonalds et ses effets sur les personnes qui la consomment (qui mieux que Ronnie McDo pour illustrer que nous sommes ce que nous mangeons, après tout!). J’aime à penser que la pièce fustige aussi les buveurs dans ce quartier comme des amateurs, qui sont dans un égarement évident concernant le pouvoir et les seuils de leur consommation d’alcool.

P.S. Pardon my French.