Tag Archives: Velvet Underground

Six degrees of separation from Lou Reed

Calvin Wynter wearing a yellow rubber glove this morning

Calvin Wynter was getting medical results in yesterday’s blog

Yesterday’s blog ended with New York theatre producer Calvin Wynter saying: “They called me on Friday which means I think I may have cancer. I don’t know. So far, everything that’s thought to have been cancerous was not – like the polyps I got from my colonoscopy. I had three polyps. No cancer. So who knows? Maybe the third time isn’t so good but, y’know look – I’ve had a shaved head before.”

Calvin has now to come back to say: “My jawbone lesion is benign… Yay!”

In a blog during the Edinburgh Fringe, I mentioned rock star Lou Reed, as portrayed  in the show Transformer. The Fringe show was performed as if in Max’s Kansas City club, New York, in the 1970s. I asked him if he had ever seen Lou Reed perform live:

Calvin Wynter in 1977

Calvin Wynter in 1977

“I was a teenager going to Bronx Science,” Calvin told me, “living in Queens and spending most of my waking hours in Manhattan. Max’s Kansas City was always an allure. You could drink at 18 in NYC at the time and I was 17 with a very good fake ID. So, when I heard the musicians’ musician, Lou Reed, was playing that night at Max’s, I thought: School work be damned! and, ID in hand, two subway tokens and a few bucks in my pocket, I went to see live what I had heard on vinyl so many times before that the grooves were worn out and I had had to buy a second album of Transformer.

Lou Reed's Transformer album

Lou Reed’s Transformer album, released 1972

“In performance, Lou Reed was dark and foreboding which captured the energy of New York City of the 1970s. His beat combined with superb lyrics strung together shards of life, glittering dark and sharp. There was very little movement in his performance, but I and the rest of the audience were moved and moving. Lou Reed was simply so good! You were cheek to jowl, but Lou made you feel like you were in your own bubble and only he could pierce it and touch you. By the way, the steak at Max’s Kansas City was great!”

I also, almost inevitably, asked New York-born, UK-based comedian Lewis Schaffer.

Lou Reed in 1986 (Photo Steven Toole

Lou Reed performs in East Rutherford, New Jersey, 1986 (Photograph by Steven Toole)

“No, I missed Lou Reed,” he told me. “One summer I lived around the corner across from Andy Warhol’s studio on Broadway and I went into Max’s once but the Velvet Underground were long gone. Weirdly, the drummer from the Velvets – Billy Yule – lived on the corner of the very leafy street in Great Neck I grew up on… in a run-down house with a small fish pond in the yard which I envied as a child. I thought the place was haunted.”

Six degrees of separation, indeed.

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Edinburgh Fringe myths and Lou Reed

There were two notable shows which I saw at the Edinburgh Fringe yesterday, both about myths. One was Charlie Dinkin’s Child Star, in which she is a (fictional) eponymous and now slightly twitchy former stellar performer.

The other was Transformer, a tribute to Lou Reed. I am a big fan of Lou Reed.

Last night’s show – supposedly a performance at Max’s Kansas City in New York in (I think) the 1970s – was like a re-imagined Las Vegas version of Lou Reed. Loud, rocking, lively, hard-edged, professional. Everything you want in the West End or Broadway production of a rock star tribute.

On a bizarrely anal website which lists 776 gigs Lou Reed played over 44 years (1970-2013), someone who saw him perform live on a pier in Baltimore, a Bowling Alley in Dallas and at a club in Washington the night before he played the White House describes him as “an artist that created the ‘Punk’ ethos if not the music itself.”

Quite right. “If not the music itself”. When I think of Lou Reed, I think of quiet, cold melancholy. Last night, Lou Reed was turned into Meatloaf. There was a loud, rocking version of the Velvet Underground’s song Heroin. A loud, rocking version? Yup. I think someone, somewhere took the wrong drugs.

But the audience mostly seemed to love it. Even if they mostly seemed to think an acting-out of Andy Warhol being shot by a banana was a random irrelevant oddity. If it introduces Lou Reed to a new audience, then maybe it is worth it. And Pretty Miss Cairo as Candy Darling – not an easy part to cast – sang and stripped well: he was excellent.

Frankly, I prefer Lou Reed’s Berlin album to his Transformer album anyway.

On YouTube, there is a video of him singing Take a Walk on the Wild Side from the Transformer album. This is not a hard rock song.

YouTube also has a video of him singing Caroline Says II from the far more interesting Berlin album.

Meanwhile, Kate Copstick and I are not getting ready to start our live Grouchy Club shows at the Counting House Lounge tomorrow (15th-29th August). They are intentionally not advertised in the Fringe Programme because we are not really interested in random passing punters. It is more a chance for performers and media people to have a chat with the most influential comedy reviewer in Edinburgh (her) and a fat, slaphead daily blogger (me, although I see my blog hits are nearing a million and all publicity is good publicity).

The live Grouchy Club costs us nothing and costs the people who come nothing (not on the way in; not on the way out; no Free Fringe ‘bucket’). If people come along, we will have an interesting chat; it might turn into a podcast; it might even be streamed live on Periscope (via @thejohnfleming) – 3.45pm-4.45pm.

If no-one turns up, Copstick and I will have an interesting chat which will almost certainly be a podcast and might be live streamed on Periscope.

The reason we are not preparing for this in any way is that what happens totally depends on what happens… if you see what I mean.

Other people have to prepare for their shows.

Stu Turner

Stu Turner: “I’ve decided to use this photo for publicity to try and grab some attention with it”

I got an email from comic magician Stu Turner:

“Hope you’re well and it’s not pissing down with rain up there. I’m organising a big charity gala to raise funds for Autism Initiative’s Hermitage Garden project after it was vandalised twice last month. I’m organising it next Wednesday. It’s two hours (2100-2300) at the 400-seater New Empire Bingo Hall in Edinburgh and we’d love to fill it.”

On the ‘free’ principle, it is free to enter the charity show and there will be contribution buckets at the end on exit.

The bare image promoting the Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards

The Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show

Much like the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show at The Counting house on Friday 28th August, then – free to enter; bucket at the end; 100% of all money goes to the Mama Biashara charity.

This is the Edinburgh Fringe. It is all about self-publicity.

And, on that note, an update on how my toenail – which fell off after a tragic shelf-falling incident – is re-growing. The last time I posted a photo of it, there were complaints from cutting-edge comedians who felt this crossed the line of acceptability. You know who you are.

BigToe_growingNail_CUT

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