I met Lou Reed twelve years ago before I lived in Manhattan. I’d come to the city by bus from a small gray town unreachable by trains to give a reading at Bluestockings and was staying with my brother on the Lower East Side. When I checked the paper to see if I'd been listed I saw that Lou Reed had a book signing the same day for his collection of photographs of New York. It was a few hours before mine.
I can barely articulate my relationship to the music of The Velvet Underground and Lou Reed.
Andy’s Chest was the lullaby I sang to my son every night when he was a baby. A song from an album that was for years one of the only things I owned besides a change of clothes. There was no way I would miss getting his book and giving him mine.
Like anyone who's heard stories about his life, I was prepared for Lou to be a prick in person. I carried his book and my book of short stories up to the table where he sat and before I could say anything he asked, “What’s that?”
“A book I wrote. I brought it for you.”
He took it, read the epigraph and smiled “Well are you gonna sign for me?”
"Sure." We signed books for eachother. “I have a reading tonight in the East Village,” I told him. “Maybe you can make it.”
“I’ll try,” he lied. Then asked “Where’d you come from?”
“Trumansburg.” I said.
“What?” he nearly spit. “Trumansburg? Where the HELL is Tru-mans-burg?”
“Well you gotta get out of there. Take this as a sign."
“Alright,” he said.