WEIRDLAND: October 2021

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Rock Wives: Bettye Kronstad, Angie Bowie, Lynn Krieger, Pam Courson (Set the Night on Fire)

An advocate for the downtrodden, Lou Reed gave a voice to those who were never heard before. He showed us people just like ourselves, but although they were underground, they were in no way beneath us. We could easily become them. Bettye Kronstad was Reed’s first wife. She met him as a young college student in NYC in the fading embers of 1968. She memorably recounts meeting him in an elevator where Reed tried to impress her by acting like an imperious jerk and slapping her rear. From meager beginnings, she eventually found herself falling for the moody artist. Ms. Kronstad writes about Reed inviting her to his last performance with The Velvet Underground in August of 1970, and this was the point at which their relationship began. Ms. Kronstad writes of that fateful concert at Max’s Kansas City “The band played notoriously loud, and Cale’s droning climbed over, around, and through us, yet you could also hear Lou singing – screaming, really, over the instruments. Lewis sang his heart out – sometimes, I could have sworn, right at me. It was a bit intimidating.” This would all be fine except for the salient fact that by August of 1970, John Cale had been gone from The VU for nearly two years. He had been fired from the band after a show at The Boston Tea Party in September of 1968. Okay, so this was that kind of book. 

Ms. Kronstad and Reed were in an erratic orbit of each other as Reed left The Velvet Underground, worked for his father’s business, and ultimately made his name as a solo performer. The dialogues contained within the book depict the mercurial Reed as a tortured, emotionally insecure artist who bluffed his way through life to protect his damaged core to the best of his ability. While attempting to work in theater, Ms. Kronstad decided to give Reed a chance, to the extent that she and Lou were living together for several years as Reed came to depend on her for emotional stability. Given that I can’t begin to remember anything that I say to someone the next day, never mind 48 years later, the conceit of the book to recount exchanges is entirely suspect to my eyes in the veracity department. While the exchanges may or may not have happened, the emotional truth of the bouts of emotional and chemical dependency between Bettye and Reed do have the whiff of truth to them. Along the way the pills that Ms. Kronstad was fine with gave way to the demon in the bottle, Johnny Walker Red, who ultimately kept pushing her away from Reed even as she became his emotional crutch by the end of their time together.  Like many drug users, she “drew the line” at needles, only to see Reed succumb many times over their relationship. Ironically, they finally married near the end of their tumultuous relationship, around the time of Reed’s “Berlin” album. Ms. Kronstadt was comfortable with a song like “Perfect Day” recounting the details of their intimacy together, but when Reed used her painful family history as inspiration for “Berlin’s” harrowing narrative, then she finally came to the point where she had to leave Reed. That wasn’t the end of the tale, though. Reed’s manager talked her into accompanying Reed on his crashing and burning “Berlin” tour where she was expected to “mind” the erratic Reed until she walked out on him, finally, in Paris in 1973 after a cocaine fueled argument. 

The doomed relationship depicted here seemed to set the tone for the self-destructive Reed throughout much of the seventies. Bettye Kronstad lives today in Wytheville, VA. While I doubt things played out exactly as depicted here, Reed was depicted with both light and shadow with all of his personal strengths along with his worst tendencies. Lou Reed was a gifted, pivotal artist who dramatically expanded the vocabulary of rock to encompass literary concerns. Yet at the end of the day, he was also a troubled man whose destructive defense mechanisms took their tolls on both himself and those around him. By the end of the book, I marveled at Bettye's ability to leave him behind and move forward on her journey. Source:

As Madeline Bocaro (writer for Dazed & Confused and Mojo magazines, and author of biographies Stardust: The David Bowie Story (McGraw Hill, 1986), and The Wild One – The Story of Iggy Pop (Omnibus, 1988) stated after Lou Reed's passing: "Ironically, Lou's influences were Bettye LaVette, Doc Pomus, Delmore Schwartz, Edgar Allan Poe, 1950s Doo Wop… somehow it doesn’t come out that way, but Lou did it his way. His life was saved by rock n’ roll. But who was Lou Reed? A crazy, cool, sarcastic genius who influenced thousands of lives across several generations. Reed had a bad rep for a nice guy. His masterpiece was Berlin. His 20th and final solo album was Hudson River Wind Meditations (2007). He was finally at peace."

Angela Bowie: David [Bowie] was the one who was gaga over the Velvet Underground. He just thought the Velvet Underground and Lou Reed as a songwriter was the greatest thing that ever happened. Also whatever David was into I immediately took interest. I was that naive and that much of a youngster at that time, I believed that if I echoed what he said, and trumpeted it louder, people would believe what David said was important. As David started talking about Andy Warhol I never told him I thought he was an idiot. I’d shut up on that part. I was the perfect hostess. Iggy Pop and The Stooges were awfully nice to me. I don’t know if somebody had told them that I was well-intentioned or basically nice underneath it all. I suppose the only person who I was really very nervous of knowing was Iggy but I mean he was a sweetheart. I liked Lou Reed intellectually. I loved his conversations, he was so articulate and intelligent, but personally I didn't find him sexy, although he had a sort of romantic, sexy aura. I always thought that he was totally asexual. Probably Bettye didn't think so. I did a lot of listening when Lou and David spoke about New York and David would draw him out and get him to talk about what was going on in New York and it was very easy to impress David because England was very backward; I mean, it was against the law to commit sodomy. So you gotta understand where David was coming from is not because he was stupid, or because he was juvenile, or naive, it was because he was looking at it with this whole look of an English man.

At that time in England you realize how repressed they were and how even the slightest hint of that kind of scandal could mean the difference between someone getting a recording deal or someone spending their life playing working men’s clubs in the North of England and never actually becoming really popular, well yeah, you have to remember this is like late 1960s, beginning of the 1970s. It was very different and so when Lou Reed would talk about the Factory and Candy Darling and all of these incredible characters who Andy Warhol was making stars out of, for David that was like America must be the most wide open, wonderful place. And so what I mean is you’re like looking at it from a social mores, and from the point of view that if he hadn’t had all of those experiences, when they asked him in that Melody Maker article and he said he was bisexual, he would never have had the balls to do that unless he’d been around Iggy and Lou and realized that fuck it, if the English wanted to behave like that with that kind of hypocrisy, fuck it, but there was this place in the States where things were changing - not that much in the Midwest but David didn’t know that, he just knew New York. Both Lou and David were extremely professional–which is an over used word–let's says, manic about detail and getting it right and so that’s what they were involved in; they were involved in the musicality of doing something incredible. The Ziggy Stardust tour ended in L.A.–and then Iggy was at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. He was in a terrible state. Iggy was staggering around and apologizing. I can’t remember what he’d done. Maybe he'd tried to fuck me or something. I picked him up off the floor and carried him to my suite. I think David was just as stoned as Iggy was. Later, at the Mercer Arts Center I met David Johansen when he was going out with Cyrinda Foxe so I knew him a little more than I knew Johnny Thunders, these guys were all so cool, too, so sweet. That’s what everybody doesn’t realize is that there was ten years of this stuff going on before the Sex Pistols. I mean, Malcolm [McLaren] even says it and everybody else. The New York Dolls, The Stooges, The Ramones: I thought they were fabulous, because it was caricature and cartoon-like and larger than life. 

I don’t know if Lisa Robinson promoted David Johansen and Cyrinda Foxe as a great couple, but they were a great couple. I thought they were terrific but I only know my own feelings about them but this is a personal opinion and I just felt that Cyrinda always had very little vision as far as her own talent was concerned. Then I think that for her to leave Johansen and go with that crap guy in Aerosmith who was a total ignoramus, you know, compared to David, who was bright, intelligent and treated her well. I mean, she was my friend, I loved her to death, but I’ve never been able to fathom her perception of men. Johansen positioned himself to be with her, he wanted to be with her, he was smart, it would appear to me that he would be an extremely supportive person to be with and stay with. As soon as David [Bowie] said he was going to put Cyrinda in the “Rebel Rebel” video I knew he was fucking her. I think it’s incredible that David and I were together for so long. I can only put it down to my stamina and endurance. I must be some kind of masochist to have been able to endure it. And with David the first thing that shocked me was he could write such intelligent lyrics and so it was very much in the same mode of Lou Reed and Iggy Pop, you know, they wrote intelligent lyrics. Now, you could laugh and say, “Now I wanna be your dog” is an intelligent lyric? Yes it is! Those lyrics conjure an image in your mind. —Backstage Passes: Life on the Wild Side with David Bowie (2000) by Angela Bowie

Robby Krieger: In the fall of 1966. The Doors had recently arrived in New York City to play a month-long residency at the Ondine Discotheque, to finish the mixing of our debut album, playing five half-hour sets each night, finishing just shy of sunrise. On our nights off, drummer John Densmore and I explored jazz clubs in the Village. During the daylight hours, keyboardist Ray Manzarek and his girlfriend, Dorothy, ventured out to the museums. Even though the New York crowd hadn’t heard our songs before, they seemed to dig us, and the local groupies seemed fascinated by these mysterious aliens from California. I had brief flings with several of them, including Rory Flynn, a six-foot-tall model I knew from back in L.A., who also happened to be Errol Flynn’s daughter. I found out later that the groupies at Ondine’s compared notes with one another and bestowed ratings on their conquests. I didn’t get much attention from anyone after Rory, so I must not have rated too highly. Before I met my wife, Lynn, she was hanging out with her friend Peggy at the New York apartment of a guy forebodingly known as Danny Overdose. Peggy found Danny’s supply of liquid Owsley acid (a particularly potent formula) and said, “Let’s have a tea party!” Instead of placing a single droplet on their tongues, Peggy and Lynn filled up half a teacup each and started sipping. A normal acid trip kicks in after about a half hour; the Owsley hit them almost instantly. The people outside on the street suddenly appeared to have bizarrely long necks, and their heads were bobbing around like they were in some sort of spooky cartoon. In hopes of finding a new way to look inward, I tried an alternative to acid: morning glory seeds. I had heard that by eating the crushed seeds I could achieve a similarly psychedelic high. So off I went to my local florist. Despite my wife Lynn’s negative experiences with acid, she had no interest in meditation and rolled her eyes whenever John or I talked about it. For all my dedication and practice, she said she never saw much of a difference in me. I was already a mellow guy. According to her, if I got any mellower I would drop off the face of the earth. Lynn’s mom was a fanatic Catholic who dragged the family to regular church services and forbade any of her eight children to curse, even though she herself cursed all the time. Lynn’s dad was generally laid-back, but her mom had wild mood swings and kept the whole house on edge. When Lynn was a teenager, her brother told their mom that Lynn had gone on a date with Sammy Davis Jr. It was an absurd story, intended to inflame their mom’s simmering racial prejudice, but it worked better than expected. Lynn’s mom not only flipped out in the moment but held it over Lynn’s head for years, no matter how many times Lynn attempted to explain that it was a joke. Lynn had to get out. She couldn’t take the pressure and the hypocrisy and the oppression, so she escaped into New York City to go clubbing whenever she could. At only sixteen years old she moved into an apartment on the Upper East Side with one of her closest companions, a gay hairdresser named Kenny. By the time Lynn was eighteen, she had friends at clubs all over the city, so she had no trouble getting into the Ondine Discotheque when the Doors made their New York debut in 1966. I didn’t meet her that night, but Jim Morrison did. She met the humble, gentlemanly version of Jim and was predictably charmed by him. That night, with the enthusiasm of a tourism board member, Jim told her all about Los Angeles, and how the West is the best. Palm trees, sunshine, beaches… she was sold. She and her friends drove cross-country and saw that Jim wasn’t lying. But he hadn’t been too forthcoming about his relationship status. One day during her visit, she was hanging out at Jim’s house on Rothdell Trail in Laurel Canyon when Pam walked in and shrieked, “Jim! Who’s that?” Lynn asked. “Oh, this is Pam, my girlfriend.” 

Jim had failed to mention Pam before then. Lynn wasn’t naive; but a secret, official, live-in girlfriend? Lynn ran out of the house and down the steps past the Canyon Country Store. Jim chased after her, shouting, “Don’t go!” Somehow, Jim convinced Lynn to keep hanging out with him. She went back to New York and they met up whenever the Doors traveled east, and she saw him whenever she took trips out to L.A. with her friends. It was the beginning of the hippie era, and L.A. wasn’t as crowded or as noisy as Manhattan. At first it was almost too peaceful for Lynn, but after a while — convinced that she could maybe solidify things with Jim if she lived a little closer to him — she finally made the move to Laurel Canyon. Jim tested Lynn’s limits just as he did with everyone else. Once they were at a party at a fancy Malibu beach house, with a deck that stretched out over the sand. Lynn was leaning over the railing when Jim grabbed her ankles and hoisted her over the edge. He held her dangling there as the blood rushed to her head. She screamed, “Get me up! Get me up!” He made a single demand: “Tell me you love me.” She could barely sputter out the words because she was so furious, but she told him what he wanted to hear and he pulled her back onto the deck. At first it was easy for Lynn to cope with Jim’s behavior because she had been surrounded by one type of craziness or another her whole life. But he kept pushing. Lynn’s relationship with Jim officially ended for good when she moved to a house at Horse Shoe Canyon with a new group of friends.

By early ’68, though, we were both officially single, and Lynn's hilarious sense of humor, her East Coast edge, and her fearless spirit set her apart from other girls and made her irresistible. So one night when I found out that Lynn was going to be at a party at a mutual friend’s house, I made sure to attend. I had recently bought a burgundy Porsche 911S, so I gallantly offered Lynn and her friend a ride home. Like every dumb guy, I tried to show off by gunning the engine and taking corners at dangerous speeds. Nothing physical happened that night, but it was the first chance Lynn and I had to really get to know each other, and we started hanging out. I never asked Jim how he felt about me dating Lynn because he still had Pam, so it seemed like everything had worked out well for everyone. About a year later, Lynn and I moved into a house in Benedict Canyon that would later become the inspiration for the song “Hyacinth House.” Later, Jim complimented me on my choice of partner. He never went after Lynn again. Lynn and I remain together to this day. Set the Night on Fire is dedicated to her. "This book is dedicated to Lynn Ann Veres, my wife of fifty years so far. She’s the only person I’ve ever met who lets me be me. And that’s why I’ll always love her."

Pamela Courson never tried to put a wedge between Jim and the band. She never meddled in our creative process. I always thought she was good for Jim. Their relationship may have been tumultuous at times, but they never had any major fights when I was around. They made their own rules. It was clearly an open relationship since they were both seeing other people, and that incited trouble from time to time. But they genuinely seemed devoted to each other. A true couple. And even their unstable version of stability was better than Jim bouncing from girl to girl every night. Pam used to date Arthur Lee from Love, who called her Yellow Tooth due to her discolored incisors. But her sweet looks outweighed her dental shortcomings enough that John hit on her at the London Fog before Jim ever did. Her squeaky voice and goofy demeanor made her appear sweet and innocent, but she was crazier than Jim in some ways, taking up with weird guys and doing heroin. To many men that would be a negative, but Jim had finally met someone who could walk on the edge right alongside him. Pam was too flaky to get into poetry or literature on the same level as Jim, but she was smarter than most people realized. Some people question whether she was calculating the cost-benefit of dating Jim in the name of a financially comfortable future. I can’t say that wasn’t a factor, but she still legitimately loved him. It was a complex coupling, to say the least. The bottom line is that she was weird, he was weird, and they were lucky they found each other to be weird with. Pam and I were both Capricorns so we always got along well. She seemed to get along with the other band members and all our girlfriends, too, even after Lynn’s awkward introduction to her at the Rothdell Trail house. But Jim and Pam were often in their own bubble. I don’t think Pam ever consciously tried to separate Jim from the rest of us. She just hung out with all these junkies and oddball Europeans, and the separation naturally evolved. I can’t say for sure that moving to Paris with Jim in 1971 was her idea, but I’ve always believed that her long-standing affair with a French count/heroin dealer must’ve factored into her enthusiasm for the idea. After Jim died, Pam returned to the States, exited the airport, got in a cab, and entered into a heroin-fueled fling with the driver, who happened to also be a drug dealer. I saw her only a few times after that. She was still the same Pam, but her silly side had been blunted by severe depression. She never wanted to talk much about what had happened in Paris, of course. The last time I ran into her was when Lynn and I met Ray and John and their wives for dinner up in Sausalito. Pam coincidentally walked into the same restaurant with another new boyfriend  and made chitchat but then excused herself to eat at a separate table. There has always been speculation about whether Pam’s fatal overdose was accidental or intentional. I couldn’t possibly say. I just know she was sad. And one way or the other, the grief took her. —"Set the Night on Fire" (2021) by Robby Krieger

Monday, October 25, 2021

The Velvet Underground (2021) by Todd Haynes

In the new Apple documentary "The Velvet Underground" (2021), Lou Reed says he made $2.35 royalties for his pre-Velvet song "Leave Her For Me", more than he made with the Velvets. But The Velvet Underground is, along with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, one of the three seminal groups in the history of rock ‘n’ roll. If you want to see the Velvets in their prime performing “What Goes On” or “White Light/White Heat” in a steamy rock club, or get a taste of what it was like to see the Exploding Plastic Inevitable at the Dom in New York City in 1966, you’re out of luck, because those clips basically don’t exist. It’s quite an irony considering that Warhol, the band’s mentor, was notorious for filming everything around him. The Velvet Underground, whose music was a mesmerizing midnight trance-out, had no radio niche, no publicity, no “media,” no backstage verité Pennebaker or Maysles. Todd Haynes appears to have vacuumed up every last photograph and raw scrap of home-movie and archival footage of the band that exists and stitched it all into a coruscating document that feels like a time-machine kaleidoscope that immerses you in the band but still leaves them slightly out of reach. The film interviews Reed’s sister, Merrill Reed Weiner, who sets us straight on the legendary tale of how the teenage Lou’s suburban Long Island parents okayed his getting electroshock therapy because they wanted to shock the homosexuality out of him. (She says that’s untrue.) 

Lou the subversive guitar bad boy and Cale the debonair experimentalist came together like an acid and a base. Cale is the one whose story the documentary feels organized around. And that’s not just because Cale (now 79) is interviewed at length while Lou Reed, who died in 2013, couldn’t be. No, it’s as if Haynes wanted the Velvets to be an art band even more than he wanted them to be a rock ‘n’ roll band. The Velvets’ second album, “White Light/White Heat”, is written off in the movie as an angry amphetamine binge of a record. But out of that came drama: Lou Reed fired John Cale, just as he had already fired Andy Warhol. That sounds like reckless Lou, and that’s certainly the way the documentary presents it. But maybe Reed knew just what he was doing. He replaced Cale with Doug Yule, and together they made what I think is the group’s greatest album, “The Velvet Underground” (1969). It’s a masterpiece of religious street passion, yet the movie kind of brushes by it. Through it all, the Velvets, and perhaps only the Velvets, have remained perpetually hip. Source: 

Lou Reed enjoyed a solo career renaissance primarily by passing himself off as the most burnt-out reprobate around (and it wasn't all show by a long shot). People kept expecting him to die, so he perversely came back, not to haunt them, but to clean up. The central heroic myth of the sixties was the burnout. Lou Reed was necessary because he had the good sense to realize that the whole concept of sleaze, of decadence, degeneracy, was a joke and he turned himself into a clown. In fact, a large part of Lou's mythic appeal has always been his total infantilism. Like Jim Morrison, Lou Reed realized the implicity absurdity of the rock 'n' roll bète-noire badass pose and parodied it, deglamorized it. Lou Reed, like all the heroes, is there for the beating up. They wouldn't be heroes if they were infallible, they wouldn't be heroes if they weren't miserable wretched dogs, the pariahs of the earth.  –"Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung" (2013) by Lester Bangs

“All the books about me are bullshit,” Lou Reed once said, when asked about Victor Bockris' biography, although he reckoned there were lots of truth in Bockris' book. In a breezy tone, Reed’s first wife Bettye Kronstad wrote of the five-year period, 1968-1973, between the end of the Velvet Underground and Reed’s third solo album Berlin. Kronstad makes an effort in Perfect Day to contextualize what’s happening with their personal life with the goings-on of Reed’s career. But at its most interesting and tragic, this book serves to inject the well-worn myths of Lou Reed the legend with humanity, and offers an insider’s perspective to Reed’s losses of personal control, his fears and anxieties, particularly during the Transformer era. With a legacy of four commercial failures to his name, Reed didn’t exactly emerge as a hot property. Wearied from his Velvets experience and unsure about his next move, Reed ended up moving back to his parents’ house on Long Island and started a relationship with theatre student Bettye Kronstad. Bettye found him a kind, gentle, sensitive guy who nicknamed her 'Princess' and who telephoned her in the wee hours talking about his dreams of becoming a writer. In fact, they became serious and Bettye spent the first year she dated him living at his parents’ Long Island home. 

Bettye Kronstad: "At seventeen, Lou’s parents had sent him to see a psychiatrist who prescribed EST for his depression and mood swings. During the summer of 1959, he was treated at Creedmoor State Psychiatric Hospital in Queens, New York, where the EST treatments were administered without an anesthetic. At that time, the procedure involved putting him on a wooden gurney with a rubber block between his teeth. This was an experience that scarred Lou for life. It is commonly thought that EST was prescribed to Lou in order to cure him of his ‘bisexual tendencies,’ but he never told me this or even alluded to it. I think he told journalists this to be more sympathetic to the gay community, and in part to broaden his appeal to that audience. From the beginning of our relationship I told Lou in no uncertain terms that if I saw a needle anywhere near him, I would—without fail—leave him. Hard drugs were his Achilles’ heel, and I knew they would destroy him if he started taking them again." 

Shelley Albin: "Lou Reed is a very fifties type guy. He's ultimately straight. He wants his wife, Sylvia, who is a very fifties type girl, to take care of him." As much as Reed's sexuality was pondered, he had a long time girlfriend in Shelley Albin, and married three times. Reed even admitted his heterosexuality when initiated his relationship with Sylvia Morales. Reed's Ecstasy album addressed the failed marriage to Sylvia Morales (in the songs Baton Rouge and Tatters - she wanted kids, Reed obviously did not) and then he came with Set The Twilight Reeling, which dealt with his need to become "the newfound man, and set the twilight reeling" with Laurie Anderson.

Lou Reed was a self-sabotaging, widely disliked man who gave voice to the unwanted and despised. Like Danny Fields said once: "poor Lou - his act worked too well." Humanity brought out the worst in him, and he returned the favor. Anthony DeCurtis: "There was an incredible level of fear of abandonment and terror and that's what motivated his violence—coming out of a kind of desperation, it was less about hostility than about a kind of self-hatred and fear." As Lester Bangs wrote shortly after his first encounter with Reed: "I never met a hero I didn´t like. But then, I never met a hero. But then, maybe I wasn´t looking for one." "I just hope it doesn’t start getting thought of as this terrible down death album, because that’s not at all what I mean by it,” Lou Reed said of "Magic & Loss" (1992) to the Chicago Tribune: "I think of it as a really positive album, because the loss is transformed magically into something else." In "Warrior King," Reed channels his anger into a fantasy of omnipotence: "I wish I was a warrior king; inscrutable, benign / With a faceless charging power always at my command / Footsteps so heavy that the world shakes / My rage instilling fear." Reed feels his loss, but has reached a level of acceptance: "My friends are blending in my head / They're melting into one great spirit / And that spirit isn't dead."

Ellen Willis, the first rock critic for The New Yorker wrote “The Velvet Underground” essay, included in fellow critic Greil Marcus’ book “Stranded” (1979). “The songs on ‘The Velvet Underground’ are all about sin and salvation,” Willis begins. The crux of Willis’ essay is that Lou Reed managed to exist in that rare space between irony and sentimentality, to avoid slipping into either the snarl or the smile. His music was an exercise in rejection, but not the knee-jerk anti-establishment hostility. It’s a rejection of rejection, a fight against both the nihilism of punk and the boppy, commercial vibes of pop music. “For the Velvets, the aesthete-punk stance was a way of surviving in a world that was out to kill you,” Willis writes. “The Velvets were not nihilists but moralists.” Willis explains, “Their songs are about unspeakable feelings of despair, disgust, isolation, confusion, guilt, longing, relief, peace, clarity, freedom, love—and about the ways we habitually bury them from a safe, sophisticated distance in order to get along in a hostile, corrupt world. Rock & Roll makes explicit the use of a mass art form was a metaphor for transcendence, for connection, for resistance to solipsism and despair.”

Shelley Albin said about Reed's sexuality: "I think by nature he was more driven to women because of his relationship with his mother. That’s what he thought was normal. It was comfortable.” Reed, Shelley said, was “a romantic at heart. He could be very sweet. He’s probably the only person who ever literally gave me a heart-shaped box of chocolates on Valentine’s Day. But he wasn’t happy unless he made somebody more miserable than he was. Misery made for his best work, whether it came from me or somebody else. He wasn’t anybody I wanted to live with and put up with. It wasn’t worth it. It was too much grief.” As for his reputation as a sexual player, that, too, was something of an image. “I got the impression that he never really had a girlfriend in high school,” she said. “I think he put on an aura later of being a ladies’ man. Hardly at all. That didn’t fit with the guy I met. He didn’t do as much in college as he pretended later. I met him after he’d been at college for a year. He was awkward. Boys I went out with in high school were smoother.” “I liked his brain,” Shelley said. “We could talk for hours and hours, days and days. We connected. He was an incredible romantic. So we connected on that level. It was very much a creative-mind thing. I was crazy about him. He was a great kisser and well coordinated. His appeal was of a very sexy boy/man. Lou was very insecure, and he needed a nurturer.” Lou Reed treated relationships, sex, and masculinity with a sense of simultaneous distance and intimacy. Just as femininity, sex clubs, and drugs were something to look at, so was masculinity. Reed’s explorations of identity  evolved  from rocker to strung-out junkie to effeminate songster to middle-aged intellectual. Lou Reed's quixotic/demonic relationship to sex was clearly intense. No one understood Lou's ability to make those close to him feel terrible better than the special targets of his inner rage, his parents, Sidney and Toby. Lou dramatized what was in the 1950s suburban America his father's benevolent dominance into Machavellian tyranny, and viewed his mother as the victim when this was not the case at all. The fact is Sidney and Toby Reed adored and enjoyed each other. After twenty years of marriage, they were still crazy about each other." –"Transformer: The Complete Lou Reed Story" (2014) by Victor Bockris