Thursday, March 22, 2018

Beat Hero Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti Of City Lights Bookstore is 99; Bashes Trump and Is Merry

Ferlinghetti speaks out at 99, his voice as vital as ever

by John McMurtrie | March 21, 2018 Original in "The San Francisco Chronicle"
Lawrence Ferlinghetti co-founded City Lights 65 years ago, in 1953.
“I’m there in spirit all the time,” he says of the beloved, world-famous bookstore on Columbus Avenue in North Beach.
How about in reality? How often is he at the shop?
“As a poet,” he says with a laugh, “I don’t deal in reality.”
Yes, Ferlinghetti has scaled back his involvement with City Lights, where he shares an office with former City Lights Publishers editor Nancy Peters, co-owner of the store. But the celebrated bookseller, publisher and former San Francisco poet laureate nevertheless maintains an active lifestyle — and life of the mind — that anyone far younger would envy.
Not bad for someone who, on Saturday, March 24, will turn 99.
On a recent rainy afternoon, Ferlinghetti warmly welcomed an interviewer at his second-floor apartment on a country-quiet street in North Beach. He was heading out of town the following day for a two-week stay with friends in Santa Cruz.
Over the decades, the poet has also taken time away from the city at an electricity-free cabin in Big Sur. He hasn’t been there in two years, however.
“I used to be a woodsman,” says the native of Yonkers, N.Y., who settled in San Francisco with his late wife, Kirby, in the early 1950s. Getting to his cabin these days, though, is a challenge.
Most of the walking that Ferlinghetti does now is near his rent-controlled apartment where he’s lived for 38 years, a couple of blocks from the Embarcadero and the bay beyond it.
Walking isn’t the only way he keeps fit. He has a rowing machine in a room crowded with books and papers that serves as a home office.
“I use it all the time,” he says. “Practically every day.”
The machine helps make up for no longer swimming at the Embarcadero YMCA. “I would do 30 laps in 30 minutes,” he says. “I had to knock that off 10 years ago.”
Also on the floor, not far from the rowing machine, is an open cardboard box that’s full of copies of “Ferlinghetti’s Greatest Poems.” The handsome, compact collection was published late last year by New Directions, the small, venerable house that in 1958 released “A Coney Island of the Mind,” Ferlinghetti’s hugely popular collection that sold more than a million copies.
“A Coney Island of the Mind” came out in the Eisenhower era, yet much of it — accessible, politically engaged, humorous and impassioned verse that has spoken to generations — remains embedded in Ferlinghetti’s memory. The poet eagerly volunteers to recite some of its lines, his scratchy baritone dramatically quiet at times and booming at others.
For more recent poems that he doesn’t know by heart, he reads from books, using a desktop electronic magnifier that helps offset his poor eyesight.
Other than trouble reading, and being a bit hard of hearing, Ferlinghetti seems remarkably healthy. He looks sharp, too, wearing a white box-print dress shirt, deep-blue sweater and round-rimmed tortoiseshell glasses. A stud in his right earlobe matches the blue of his eyes, and his shaggy white beard accentuates the air of a happily retired fisherman — fitting for someone who, before he served in the Navy during World War II, spent time as a lobsterman in Maine.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti was the publisher of Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl,” which he was put on trial for in 1957.
Fame first came to Ferlinghetti when he and City Lights clerk Shigeyoshi Murao were arrested and put on trial in 1957 for publishing Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl.” In a landmark decision, Judge Clayton W. Horn ruled that the Beat poet’s work was not obscene.
Since then, Ferlinghetti’s activist voice has not softened. When speaking about President Trump, he is unequivocal: “Trump is an evil man,” he says. “He’s so dangerous. I think you’ve got to take this man seriously. I think he’s out to destroy democracy.”
Cheery as always, though, the son of an Italian immigrant doesn’t let a visitor leave without sharing an Italian proverb — “wisdom for future generations,” as he puts it: “Mangia bene, ridi spesso, ama molto.” (“Eat well, laugh often, love a lot.”) To which he adds, chuckling, “And don’t screw up.”
The interview with Ferlinghetti, below, has been edited for length and clarity.
Q: What drew you to poetry as a young man? 
A: Oh, some dame (laughs).
Q: Do you remember her name? 
A: Well, uh ... no (laughs).
Q: When would that have been? 
A: I really didn’t start reading poetry in depth until I was in Paris on the GI Bill. I was getting a doctorate at the Sorbonne, and that’s when I really got into it. I was in the Navy four years, and I never had a desk job in the Navy. I was one ship to the next. I was in the Normandy invasion the first morning. But there was no time for reading, really.
Q: You were kind enough last year to write something for The Chronicle about your time in the Navy. Actually, I remember you writing that you did in fact have some time to read books. 
A: Yeah, we were a commissioned vessel, even though we were only 110 feet long. It was a subchaser. So we had all the nooks and crannies on the ship stuffed with Modern Library editions.
Q: Do you remember any titles? 
A: Well, lots of James Joyce and lots of T.S. Eliot. And lots of Ezra Pound.
Q: I wonder if there are still Ezra Pound books in the U.S. Navy these days on ships. 
A: I doubt it.
Q: So, before this, you earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at the University of North Carolina, right?
A: Chapel Hill. I went to Chapel Hill because Thomas Wolfe, who wrote “Look Homeward, Angel,” had gone there, and he had a magazine at the university.
Q: Like a lot of great writers over the years, you got your start covering sports. Do you remember any of those stories? 
A: They were forgettable (laughs).
Q: Did you envision a career in journalism at that point?
A: Oh, yeah, definitely. It seemed to me the only thing I knew how to do was write, the only thing I had any talent for was to write. And so I thought I would go where Thomas Wolfe went to college and maybe I could become like him. I mean, in my generation, his book “Look Homeward, Angel” was a very important book. It’s the kind of book that you have to read when you’re, say, 18. If you read it when you’re 40 or 50, it seems too effusive and too romantic.
Q: What made you decide to move to Paris after the war?
A: I spent about two years of my very early years with a French aunt. When my mother was sick and couldn’t take care of me, (my) aunt took me to France and we lived near Strasbourg, and lived there long enough to learn the language, so I still retain it. And so it took me years to get back there. So, after the war, I was 26, 27, and I went to France because I felt like I was returning to my second home.
Q: And you got some actual work done there, right? You were getting a doctorate, as you said. 
A: Yeah, but I wrote the thesis in the back of a cafe — it was the Café Mabillon, which is on the Boulevard Saint-Germain.
Q: Does it still exist? 
A: Oh, yeah, but now it’s a tourist place. And I was hanging out at George Whitman’s bookstore, which was called la librairie Mistral at that time. He changed the name to Shakespeare and Company in about 1961. George was my oldest friend. I hung out at Shakespeare and Company in many, many visits to George — many, many times I stayed in the bookstore.
Q: So, you stayed upstairs, where they put people up?
A: Yeah.
Q: When would that have been? 
A: Well, I was there first, it would have been 1947. And then I left Paris in 1950, on Jan. 1, and arrived here the next day.
Q: Why San Francisco? 
A: It seemed like it was still the last frontier, which it isn’t anymore. I mean, in 1951, it was a wide-open city, and it seemed like you could do anything you wanted to here. It was like there was so much missing that if it was going to be a real city, there was so much that it had to get, that it didn’t have. And, for instance, as far as bookstores go, all the bookstores closed at 5 p.m. and they weren’t open on the weekends. And there was no place to sit down. And there was usually a clerk on top of you asking you what you wanted.
And so the first thing I realized, there was no bookstore to become the locus for the literary community. It’s really important if you’re going to have a literary community, it has to have a locus. It just can’t be out there in the air. So, from the very beginning, when we started City Lights in June 1953, the idea was to make it a locus for the new literary community that had developed out of the Berkeley Renaissance, so called, and it proved to be true. People just flocked to it because there had been no locus for the literary life.
Q: Back to San Francisco and how it’s changing. What has changed the most about the city, in your opinion, over those years? 
A: You’d have to write a couple books to cover that. In 1951, San Francisco was a small, provincial capital. And it was provincial. For instance, there was no place in town to get a croissant, except in the basement of the City of Paris department store, where there was a cafe. And so that was a test of our provinciality (laughs).
Q: What needs to change in San Francisco, in the Bay Area in general, to keep artists here? 
A: Well, San Francisco now, it’s Boomtown USA — it’s a bigger boom than after the Gold Rush in the 1850s and ’60s. The boomtown today is transforming San Francisco into something you’re not even going to recognize in another 15 years. It hasn’t quite hit North Beach yet, but the rest of the town, it’s just a huge traffic jam everywhere. The automobile is transforming and ruining most of the cities, not just San Francisco. I call it Autogeddon. Autogeddon is ruining the cities.
Q: Your poems are a singular mix of humor and pathos. Francis Ford Coppola has this great line: “Lawrence gets you laughing, then hits you with the truth.” Is it becoming more difficult for you to sustain the laughter?
A: Why, no! Francis was totally right, though. It seems that I have so many poems that do that.
Q: I wondered because I felt in this book, “Ferlinghetti’s Greatest Poems,” that there’s a lot of rapturous language early on, and as you age, and perhaps with the times, with the politics, the poems are a bit darker.
A: Well, yeah, lyricism is a part of the age of youth. When you’re a youth, you’re lyric. Later on, you become tragic.
Q: What’s the last poem you wrote? 
A: It was published in the Nation magazine. It’s called “Trump’s Trojan Horse”: “Homer didn’t live long enough/ To tell of Trump’s Trojan Horse/ From which all the president’s men/ Burst out in the White House to destroy democracy/ And institute absolute rule by corporations/ Bow down, oh Common Man/ Bow down!”
Q: How will you celebrate your 99th birthday?
A: I don’t see any reason to celebrate getting older. It’s not a cause of celebration.
Q: What will you be doing that day, do you know?
A: Oh, I’ll have a little family gathering. That’s about it.
John McMurtrie is The San Francisco Chronicle’s book editor. Email: Twitter: @McMurtrieSF

Trump’s Trojan Horse  by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Homer didn’t live long enough
To tell of Trump’s White House
Which is his Trojan horse
From which all the President’s men
Burst out to destroy democracy
And install corporations
As absolute rulers of the world
Ever more powerful than nations
And it’s happening as we sleep
Bow down, oh Common Man
Bow down!

July 13, 2017


Lawrence Ferlinghetti's most treasured book

Original in "The San Francisco Chronicle" January 26, 2017

T.S. Eliot’s “Four Quartets” was given to me by the mother of my girlfriend in Greenwich Village in 1943. Since one part was full of great sea imagery, it resonated in me all across the Atlantic to the Normandy invasion. My subchaser (the USS SC1308) was a commissioned U.S. Navy ship, and we could stock everything that the big ships had. And so we ordered every book in Random House’s Modern Library. Every cranny and nook aboard our little ship was crammed with books — including “Four Quartets.”
“Four Quartets” has influenced everything I have written in poetry, ever since I first read it. It is more important than Eliot’s “The Waste Land” in the development of his thought and poetics. (It is still in print.)
Many years ago, I wrote a long poem called “The Sea and Ourselves at Cape Ann.” It’s my failed attempt to write like Eliot.
   Michael McClure, Bob Dylan, Allen Ginsberg, & Lawrence Ferlinghetti. San Francisco, 1965. writes: I LOVE Lawrence Ferlinghetti! Mind-boggling that at 99 he is so incredibly on target. Side note here: in recent times, we have had the pleasure of seeing at least three great artists in their 90s still going strong - Barbara Dane, Dick Van Dyke, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Inspirations to us all. One of the great joys of my San Francisco life in the 80s and 90s was occasionally running into someone like Lawrence Ferlinghetti. One time, we were standing in line to mail a package at UPS and started chatting. I had written a positive article with poet Frank Walsh about Ezra Pound for a community newspaper where Pound went to college (the University of Pennsylvania). It had come to the attention of Pound's companion (and mother of his daughter) Olga Rudge, who wrote me. I called her when I was in Venice and we visited a few times. Once it was raining and she lent me Pound's raincoat and showed me a "gadfly" (which is how Pound saw himself) she found on the day of his funeral and had saved. Ferlinghetti and I chatted about Pound, Olga Rudge, New Directions, and James Laughlin. Then, more recently, seeing him talk about his book of journals. He read "The Sea" for Pablo Neruda (a fragment is on the video I shot above).

It is a miracle we still have Ferlinghetti. It's a miracle we ever had him at all! He gave us his poems. He gave us City Lights. He gave us Allen Ginsberg's Howl and so much more. But we need others now too.. Oh, poets! Arise now! Unsheathe your voice and let that s/word shine!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Cool, New Music Playlist: Spring Equinox 2018: Your Time Will Come: Albert Hammond Jr. The Voidz The Beginning Of The End Courtney Barnett David Bowie, Mick Ronson, Lou Reed The Decemberists Doc Watson Freddy Fender Gene Clark Guided By Voices Jack White Parquet Courts Stephen Malkmus John Cale & Nico Velvet Underground

Albert Hammond Jr.
The Voidz
The Beginning Of The End
Courtney Barnett
David Bowie, Mick Ronson, Lou Reed
The Decemberists 
Doc Watson
Freddy Fender
Gene Clark
Guided By Voices 
Jack White
Parquet Courts
Stephen Malkmus
John Cale & Nico
Velvet Underground

The Stokes are on hiatus but their guitarist Albert and their singer Julian both have new albums out and they're both VERY good:

Albert Hammond Jr. Francis Trouble
The Voidz (feat Julian Casablancas) Virtue

The Beginning Of The End "Funky Nassau" - heard it playing in Trader Joe's (after not hearing it since the 70's) and couldn't get it unstuck from my synapses.

Courtney Barnett "Need A Little Time" - this slow song took a while to grow on me... but now I really like it.

David Bowie, Mick Ronson, Lou Reed "Sweet Jane" (Save The Whales Benefit, London, July 8, 1972. Reading Anthony DeCurtis' excellent "Lou Reed: A Life" has inspired me to check out Velvet & Lou stuff, especially live performances... Lou Reed performing with The Spiders From Mars? Wow...

The Decemberists I'll Be Your Girl - very good album. Bit of a departure from their previous material.

Doc Watson Sittin' On Top Of The World

Freddy Fender Greatest Hits Vol. 2

Gene Clark (co-founder The Byrds) Live At McCabe's with Jesse Ed Davis, Santa Monica, April 1980 and Live at Allentown, PA. Summer Celebration 6-23-85

Guided By Voices Space Gun - another great album from GbV

Jack White Boarding House Reach - I liked some of the early release singles - "Connected By Love" and "Over And Over And Over"  but a little disappointed with the rest of the album. Interesting interview in "The Guardian"

Parquet Courts "Wide Awake" a really different sound for them

Pussy Riot "Elections" - on Putin's recent "victory"

Stephen Malkmus "Middle America" (solo, acoustic) - I can hear this song when it's solo. With the full band, it was a little cluttered. And it's a good song. Looking forward to a 2018 Malkmus tour and new album... and I'm totally in favor of a Pavement 30th anniversary tour in 2019!

Other Lou Reed stuff I'm listening to: American Poet, Coney Island Baby, Live In Concert, Live: Take No Prisoners, Lou Reed (1st solo album), Rock 'N Roll Animal,  Lou Reed Live, Sally Can't Dance, Street Hassle, Transformer, The Bedroom Tape (with Nico), Live at Le Bataclan, Paris, Jan 29, 1972 (with John Cale and Nico)

Velvet Underground: The Complete Matrix Tapes, Live at Max's Kansas City, Loaded, Psychedelic Sounds From The Gymnasium, The Velvet Underground, VU, White Light/White Heat, 1969: The Velvet Underground.


Cool, New Video: Queens Of The Stone Age "Head Like A Haunted House"

Monday, March 19, 2018

Comedian Jim Carrey's Lovely Painting Of Trump

Jim Carrey on Twitter says: If you liked my last cartoon you may also enjoy...


Cool, New Video: Queens Of The Stone Age "Head Like A Haunted House"

Some Josh Homme live videos from Queens Of The Stone Age and Them Crooked Vultures (Josh, John Paul Jones, Dave Grohl)...

The Guardian: Pussy Riot Protest Against Putin Election With New Song

Punk provocateurs release statement alongside new track "Elections" attacking corruption, censorship and erosion of democracy in Russia

Nadia Tolokonnikova, of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot, performs at the Vive Latino music festival in Mexico City, 18 March 2018.
Nadia Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot: ‘We’re not going to obey during this term.’ Photograph: Christian Palma/AP

Original in "The Guardian"

Russian political punk group Pussy Riot have released a new song, Elections, to protest against “18 years of Putin’s power” as Russians headed to the polls on Sunday.
The harsh hip-hop track features lyrics such as “six years we’re gonna fight, fight / We’re not gonna obey during this term”. In a statement alongside the release, the band wrote: 
What 18 years of Putin’s power has brought to us? Arrests, poisonings, tortures, murders of political activists. Institutional corruption which is HUGE. Total erosion of democratic institutions. Giant economic inequality. Worsening of prison conditions. Environmental catastrophe in lots of industrial regions of Russia. Censorship everywhere – in media, in education, in internet, in people’s heads. Self-censorship, caused by fear. You should not be deceived, this event on 18th of March is not elections. Falsifications, eliminations of political opponents, Kremlin-controlled media leave no chance to anybody except Putin.

The vote saw Vladimir Putin receive 76% of the vote, ensuring him another six years in power as president. Ahead of the vote, Pussy Riot sarcastically wrote, “Guess who’ll win?” on their Facebook pageAlexei Navalny, his main opposition opponent, was banned from the race in December by the country’s central electoral commission.
The video for Elections features paintings by Navalny’s brother Oleg, currently serving a three-and-a-half-year jail sentence after being convicted of stealing money from two Russian companies – a ruling described by the European Court of Human Rights as “arbitrary and manifestly unreasonable”. Pussy Riot described him as a political prisoner.
Pussy Riot, who have a rotating cast of musicians and artists, have long been outspoken against Putin and Russian elites. Members Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova served 21-month jail terms after an anti-Putin performance in 2012 at the altar of Moscow’s largest cathedral. Alyokhina was detained in August 2017 in the Siberian city of Yakutsk following a protest she made with another Pussy Riot member against the imprisonment of Ukranian film-maker Oleg Sentsov. The band staged another demonstration against Sentsov’s imprisonment by storming Trump Tower in New York last October, and have protested against Donald Trump in their songs Make America Great Again and Police State.
The band have made other high-profile protests in Red Square, and at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, where they were attacked with whips and tear gas by Cossack militia working as security at the games. 

Cool, New Song: Pussy Riot "Elections/Выборы" Brutal Take On War Criminal Putin's Fake Election Today

Sunday, March 18, 2018

NME: Pavement Could Reunite For 30th Anniversary In 2019

      Pavement Credit: Getty/Martyn Goodacre

( note: Although this was published last September, it didn't get much attention at the time. Since it is still quite relevant, I publish it here because so many people, including myself, would LOVE to see a Pavement reunion in 2019... and also to celebrate NME (which I loved when I lived in England and still tried to follow here in America) as it ceases print publication this year... AND because I am psyched that one of my videos was used in this article from NME!)

Spiral Stairs teases future plans
Pavement could “maybe” reunite for their 30th anniversary in 2019, according to one of the band’s founding members.
The garage-rock outfit originally split in 1999 but reformed in 2009 for a reunion tour the following year. Speculation about another possible reunion has been rife ever since, with frontman Stephen Malkmus performing Pavement songs with guitarist Scott Kannberg, aka Spiral Stairs, at a gig last year for Kannberg’s 50th birthday.
Now, in a new interview, Kannberg has said of teaming up again in a couple of years: “We haven’t really discussed it, but there has been some talk about our 30th anniversary in 2019 maybe doing some stuff, so stay tuned!” Listen to those comments at the 3 minute mark in the interview below.

Watch footage of Malkmus and Kannberg performing together at San Francisco’s The Chapel last year. The band played four songs together in total: ‘Falling Away’, ‘Date W/ Ikea’, ‘Kennel District’ and ‘Summer Babe’.


I shot the video above, which was in the original NME article.

Here are the other videos I shot for at that show:


Stephen Malkmus Acoustic Solo On Cool, New Song "Middle America" PLUS Best Original Live Malkmus Videos

On "Lou Reed: A Life" By Anthony DeCurtis (2017)

I finally got around to reading "Lou Reed: A Life" By Anthony DeCurtis, published a few months ago (October 2017). I accidentally got the "Large Print" edition from the library, so it truly is a weighty tome, clocking in at over 700 pages.

It is a joy to read. I started in the middle of the story, with Lou establishing himself as a solo artist, working with David Bowie and Mick Ronson (my current guitar hero), and am now going back to Lou's early days in Brooklyn and Long Island, college at Syracuse, and the development of The Velvet Underground with John Cage, Sterling Morrison, Maureen "Mo" Tucker, Andy Warhol, and Nico.

To tell you the truth, I don't want the book to end.

It is excellent.

We've all heard stories about Lou being difficult, yet many of us admired his work and many other things about him. I wondered how the book would approach the issue of an artist being simultaneously visionary and irascible.

The answer is that the book does it with an honesty and openness that the Trump administration, for one, is sorely lacking.

Among the most charming aspects of the book is the extensive attention it gives to Lou's devotion to poet Delmore Schwartz (1913 - 1966), who taught at Syracuse during the time Lou was a student there and was a profound impact on Lou as a man and as a poet.

Lou dedicated the song "European Son" to Delmore on the first Velvet Underground album:

Later, Lou wrote the song "My House" (1982) for Delmore:

"My House" by Lou Reed (1982)

The image of the poet's in the breeze
Canadian geese are flying above the trees
A mist is hanging gently on the lake
My house is very beautiful at night
My friend and teacher occupies a spare room
He's dead - at peace at last the Wandering Jew
Other friends has put stones on his grave
He was the first great man that I had ever met
Sylvia and I got out our Ouija Board
To dial a spirit - across the room it soared
We were happy and amazed at what we saw
Blazing stood the proud and regal name Delmore!
Delmore, I missed all your funny ways
I missed your jokes and the brilliant things you said
My Dedalus to your Bloom
Was such a perfect wit
And to find you in my house
Makes things perfect
I really got a lucky life
My writing, my motorcycle and my wife
And to top it all off a spirit of pure poetry
Is living in this stone and wood house with me
The image of the poet's in the breeze
Canadian geese are flying above the trees
A mist is hanging gently on the lake
Our house is very beautiful at night

Our house is very beautiful at night
Our house is very beautiful at night
Our house is very beautiful at night

Delmore Schwartz

The Heavy Bear Who Goes With Me

“the withness of the body”

The heavy bear who goes with me,   
A manifold honey to smear his face,   
Clumsy and lumbering here and there,   
The central ton of every place,   
The hungry beating brutish one   
In love with candy, anger, and sleep,   
Crazy factotum, dishevelling all,   
Climbs the building, kicks the football,   
Boxes his brother in the hate-ridden city.

Breathing at my side, that heavy animal,   
That heavy bear who sleeps with me,   
Howls in his sleep for a world of sugar,   
A sweetness intimate as the water’s clasp,   
Howls in his sleep because the tight-rope   
Trembles and shows the darkness beneath.   
—The strutting show-off is terrified,   
Dressed in his dress-suit, bulging his pants,   
Trembles to think that his quivering meat   
Must finally wince to nothing at all.

That inescapable animal walks with me,
Has followed me since the black womb held,   
Moves where I move, distorting my gesture,   
A caricature, a swollen shadow,
A stupid clown of the spirit’s motive,   
Perplexes and affronts with his own darkness,   
The secret life of belly and bone,
Opaque, too near, my private, yet unknown,   
Stretches to embrace the very dear
With whom I would walk without him near,   
Touches her grossly, although a word
Would bare my heart and make me clear,   
Stumbles, flounders, and strives to be fed   
Dragging me with him in his mouthing care,   
Amid the hundred million of his kind,   
The scrimmage of appetite everywhere.

In the Naked Bed, in Plato’s Cave

In the naked bed, in Plato’s cave,
Reflected headlights slowly slid the wall,   
Carpenters hammered under the shaded window,   
Wind troubled the window curtains all night long,   
A fleet of trucks strained uphill, grinding,   
Their freights covered, as usual.
The ceiling lightened again, the slanting diagram   
Slid slowly forth.
                            Hearing the milkman’s chop,   
His striving up the stair, the bottle’s chink,   
I rose from bed, lit a cigarette,
And walked to the window. The stony street   
Displayed the stillness in which buildings stand,   
The street-lamp’s vigil and the horse’s patience.   
The winter sky’s pure capital
Turned me back to bed with exhausted eyes.

Strangeness grew in the motionless air. The loose   
Film grayed. Shaking wagons, hooves’ waterfalls,   
Sounded far off, increasing, louder and nearer.   
A car coughed, starting. Morning, softly   
Melting the air, lifted the half-covered chair   
From underseas, kindled the looking-glass,   
Distinguished the dresser and the white wall.   
The bird called tentatively, whistled, called,   
Bubbled and whistled, so! Perplexed, still wet   
With sleep, affectionate, hungry and cold. So, so,   
O son of man, the ignorant night, the travail   
Of early morning, the mystery of beginning   
Again and again,
                         while History is unforgiven.

"My House", Lou Reed's tribute to Delmore, appeared on the album The Blue Mask (1982) which many at the time considered a "come back" for Lou. 

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the album is the twin aural guitar assault launched by Lou and guitarist extraordinaire Robert Quine.

The title song from the album The Blue Mask...

Lou worked with some great guitarists in his day - Sterling Morrison in The Velvet Underground, Mick Ronson as a solo artist - and Lou was no slouch himself at guitar either.

Yet there seems to be something special about Robert Quine's work with Lou, both in the way it stands on its own and the way it intertwined with Lou's guitar to create something wholly unique.

I was struck by Robert's sad end (he killed himself after his beloved wife, who he said he could not live without, passed away suddenly), and I was shocked by a story told in Rolling Stone about Lou by The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach. Meeting backstage at an event, Dan approached Lou to talk to him about Robert Quine, a cousin of his. Due to the tragic nature of Robert's death, and the great art they made together, Dan probably expected touching accolades from Lou about Robert. Instead, he got silence and Lou simply walked away without a word. I found that puzzling:

Interview with Dan Auerbach - From "Rolling Stone", January 6, 2016:
Who are your heroes – who would you still be nervous to meet?

"Ever since I met Lou Reed, I don't really have heroes anymore. Or, at least, I don't want to meet them, unless I'm working as equals in the studio with someone like Dr. John. I heard a lot of Lou stories from my cousin [Voidoids guitarist] Robert Quine. Then the Black Keys were playing a fundraiser with Lou right after Robert died in 2004. So I walk up to Lou and say, "I'm playing in the Black Keys here. My cousin was Robert Quine. He told me how much he thought of you." Lou stared in my eyes, and just turned around and walked away [laughs]..."

Anthony DeCurtis' "Lou Reed: A Life" reveals that Quine and Reed had a complicated relationship and ultimately a falling out they never recovered from, much like practically every other professional or personal relationship Lou Reed ever had in his life....(except, apparently, Laurie Anderson...)

Another Quine cousin, Tim Quine, wrote this really nice piece about Robert you can see here.... which includes an awesome video of "Waiting For The Man" featuring a cool Quine guitar solo.

But much earlier, Robert Quine had played a crucial role in documenting The Velvet Underground. In 1969, Quine was living in San Francisco and was a hardcore Velvet fan who taped their shows at The Matrix. The Quine Tapes make Quine the Alan Lomax of The Velvet Underground. For how wonderful the Velvets' studio albums are, their live material is a real revelation, and gives us the slightest idea of how shocking they were to audiences at the time. Thanks, Robert, for gifting us this...

Please purchase "Lou Reed: A Life" by Anthony DeCurtis from an independent bookstore, if you can.