October 27, 2013, - 3:36 pm

Lou Reed, Talent Who Played in Israel Despite Boycott, Dead at 71; “Paradoxical Jew”; UPDATED

By Debbie Schlussel


I don’t know much about the politics of Lou Reed, who died today at age 71 (though I assume they were very left-wing, based on his strange sexual lifestyle and his strong presence in the ’60s and ’70s counter-culture music scene, plus he played “Farm Aid,” etc.). But I do know that he was very talented, both with the Velvet Underground and on his own. And I know that, in 2008, Reed–an American-born Jew–defied calls from the left to boycott Israel and played in the Jewish State along with his wife, Laurie Anderson. Perhaps that is part of the reason that scientists named a “velvet” arachnid native to Israel, the Loureedia annulipes, after him.


Lou Reed & Laurie Anderson Play Tel Aviv, Israel . . .

At times, I thought he was kind of over-rated, and most of his music wasn’t my type at all. But I’m kind of embarrassed to say that–despite its unfortunate references to oral sex, male prostitution, drugs, and transsexuals, all of which I had to tune out–I did like his “classic” 1972 rendition of “Walk on the Wild Side.” (The radio version has the most obvious reference–to oral sex–deleted, but I could not find that version, so beware when listening to the video, below). The song was apparently a tribute to the various hangers-on in Andy Warhol’s entourage.

Lou Reed’s “paradoxical Jewishness”:

Reed made contradictory remarks about his Jewishness.

He once reportedly told journalist Lester Bangs that he didn’t know any Jewish people. But, on another occasion, asked whether he was Jewish, he was said to have responded, “Of course, aren’t all the best people?”

No, not all of them. But definitely some of them.

**** UPDATE: One thing I forgot to mention. The guy was an admitted heavy drinker and drug user, and yet he got a liver transplant, this year. As I’ve said before, I think those who lived healthy lives should be ahead in the line for transplants, in front of those who lived this way.

Sadly, that distinction doesn’t enter the donee process.

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37 Responses

I thought the “weird sexuality” was all just schtick to sell records. I never liked that song anyway.

DS_ROCKS! on October 27, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    DSR, if I recall properly (and please correct me if I am wrong, anyone who knows) in his teens he was put in a mental institution because he was gay. That’s what I recall learning in the 90s. I could be mistaken. I think he may have had ECT to help “rid” him of it.

    I am not much for poets. But when it comes to poetry I loved the works of Lou Reed and Jim Morrison. Can’t bear anyone else…not sure why, but poetry isn’t my thing (and I couldn’t write it to save my life…)

    Skunky on October 27, 2013 at 8:07 pm

      skunky: Oh, okay, thanks. I had no idea and was just assuming that it was all schtick. Like I said, I remember hearing it ad nauseam on the radio during my teen years and found it annoying.

      (And BTW, just saw “Hard Word” and it was pretty good. Kept me interested the whole way through until the sappy very ending. Really charismatic actors, all.)

      DS_ROCKS! on October 27, 2013 at 9:25 pm

        I’m so pleased you like that movie, DSR! It was a real sleeper but I saw it when it was released because I try to see all Oz flicks and I’m a fan of Guy Pearce!

        That was the first film I saw Joel Edgerton in. I was impressed by Robert Taylor, too, who played the sleazy lawyer.

        Agreed on the ending, but I did like that James Bond/”In Like Flynn” music at the end, LOL!

        BTW, “The Hard Word” is Aussie slang for trying to put the make on someone…usually male to female (“he tried to put the hard word on her/I put the hard word on her..”). The title cracked me up but not everyone knows Australian strine.

        (BTW, Lou Reed & Metallica’s collaboration CD “Lulu” was majorly panned but I would still like to hear it. I am not into Metallica at all (I like Megadeth…) but I bet you it’s just weird enough I would like it and if I don’t I’ll blame Metallica…and I’ll wait because I hate when tons of people start buying CDs because somebody has just carked it…)

        Skunky on October 27, 2013 at 9:46 pm

His real name was Louis Rabinowitz. His stage name was Lou Reed.

Paul on October 27, 2013 at 6:22 pm

I guess he was quoted as saying, “Rock ‘n Roll is my God,” and “playing guitar is my religion.” That’s pretty direct to the point. A Hellenist. Deviant sex and vacuous off key spoken word monologues have lost a giant.

the fog on October 27, 2013 at 6:25 pm

“Lou Reed, Talent Who Played in Israel Despite Boycott,…”

That a title line starts with the above weighs the scale to the thumbs up side in evaluating the person a performer was.

Whatever else there is to consider about the man, Lou Reed did himself proud in that decision. A good–a telling–starting off point. Instincts intact. Check.

lee of the lower case "l" on October 27, 2013 at 6:28 pm

Alcoholic, heroin addict, liver transplant. Incredible the guy lived as long as he did honestly. Very talented, although I never ‘got-it’. May he rest in peace. Wife Laurie is a brilliant performer

#1 Vato on October 27, 2013 at 6:33 pm

“And the colored girls go, doo, doo-doo, doo-doo, . . .”

RIP, Lou Reed. Thanks for your respect of this rather weird but widely and well respected member of the music makers for mah gen’ration. For those of you who will jump on that last part to correct me, I didn’t say Lou Reed was a Baby Boomer, but he was one of the music makers FOR my generation. Wasn’t big on his music either, but many I know, especially those who are musicians, and know music really well, had great respect for him.

Alfredo from Puerto Rico on October 27, 2013 at 7:38 pm

I was sad to hear the news about Lou Reed even thou’ he was a mean and difficult bastard. I love, love, love his music and I am a HUGE Velvet Underground fan.

He was very grumpy and not very nice but he contributed music than means so much to me…I have always liked his music and I have always felt like I knew of Lou Reed even before I knew of him (it’s hard to explain…even before I knew of him I always felt I knew of him…).

RIP to cranky Lou Reed. There is no better time to listen to Velvet Underground than the fall (and I love to listen to The Doors in the spring…). I would prolly not like him personally but his music has always been important to me. So far ahead of his time, it’s weird to think about…

(I never liked his wife Laurie Anderson. Even when I was a Libtard she was waaaaaaaaay too pretentious for me. He had a “pop” album I loved released in like 1985 and there was a song about his then wife Sylvia on it…I still laugh when I hear it. And I love that pop song every has forgotten “I Love You Suzanne” because I just do. He released a super-depressing concept CD called “Magic & Loss” (about dying from cancer) & you have to really like darkness to even be able to bear it. I saw him in concert when he just played that straight CD in proper order and I LOVED it.)

Skunky on October 27, 2013 at 8:01 pm

Um, yeah, right, uhhhhhhh, got it. Ummmmmmmm, okayyyyy, Skunky. Understood EVERYTHING you said, . . .

ummmmmmmm, understood everything imperfectly.

Now go drown your sorrows in a Peema Bubba and Jerry Sammich. ROTFLMAO!!!

Oh, by the way, love The Doors, ESPECIALLY . . .

listening to Riders On The Storm in a room with no lights on.

Alfredo from Puerto Rico on October 27, 2013 at 8:18 pm

Lou Reed was a man of many contradictions. But listen to “Coney Island Baby” and tell me he wasn’t a great songwriter.

fleiter on October 27, 2013 at 8:23 pm

Oh, I want to add something else important about Lou Reed.

His song “Good Evening Mr. Waldheim” (off the infamous “New York” CD) was the first time (when I was a Libtard) I heard somebody slag Jesse Jackson (in any way, no less a song…) and I wondered what the hell he was talking about because it was released a year after Hi-Jackson’s running for Prez. It really threw me for a loop because I remember heaps of peeps who wanted to vote for JJ at the time…and I would have too if I was old enough to vote in the primary. Yikes. Low-info and Libtarded is a terrible way to go thru’ life. It makes me cringe and that song reminds me that facts are important to know.

I was a low-info Libtard and I remember being quite confused by the slag…I thought at the time JJ was all pure and good so I was like “WTF”? I figured out a few years later it was prolly in reference “Heimie-Town” and I really understood it once I was a Conservative. That’s when I finally learned JJ was a racist shakedown artist. Sad.

I had no clue who “Mr. Waldheim” was, of course. I certainly know now…I even know that pukey Arnold Schwarzenegger was good pals with that Nazi beast. And Fred Norris used to do impressions of him on Howard Stern!

Skunky on October 27, 2013 at 8:56 pm

Those were interesting times, Skunky, and made even more so when Jerkson talked about spitting in white people’s food when he worked at a restaurant. And isn’t it interesting that the U.N.doing of the world once had a Nazi as Suckretary General.

Of course, all that’s alright with “John” over on the ’12 Days A Slave’ thread. Not enough white people can be killed, especially by blacks, in his estimation. I finally thought of a good reply, not that I believe people like him should be replied to, but I’m going to give it a try.

Alfredo from Puerto Rico on October 27, 2013 at 9:35 pm

It’s obvious I was a fan of Reed’s music, my apologies for my passion, but DS mentioned Lester Bangs in her column.

If you don’t know who he was, he was a music reviewer/critic and although I never condoned his lifestyle he was a very good writer and quite hysterical. I was deeply influenced by his writing style.

There is a great book out on him (he died long ago…) called “Psychotic Reactions & Carburetor Dung”. If you like rock and roll and hysterical writing, that book is for you. I bought it for the title and it’s still one of my all-time favs! 😀

Skunky on October 27, 2013 at 11:14 pm

Don’t EVER apologize for passion, Skunky. Although I’m probably at least biologically old enough to be your father, your passion has been quite interesting and educational. By all means, if you think of anything else, please post it.

Alfredo from Puerto Rico on October 27, 2013 at 11:30 pm

“The guy was an admitted heavy drinker and drug user, and yet he got a liver transplant,”

That’s an abomination of the organ donor process. If they award livers to alcoholics like Reed, then it’s not so unbelievable to suspect (as I do) that they let borderline victims die on ER or OR tables if they carry donor cards. Just another reason why I *never* will have that on my license and why I teach my family not to either.

DS_ROCKS! on October 27, 2013 at 11:58 pm

    I think it should be noted that Lou cleaned up in the ’80s and that’s probably why he was eligible for a transplant. Reports say he was doing Tai Chi the day he died. So maybe he was sober and living healthy.

    Fleiter on October 28, 2013 at 4:43 pm

Wosamatta U.? Senor DS_ROCKS! You don’t like the worldwide black market for organs? C’mon, there’s a black market for everything, including cigarettes. And when pot is legalized, there will STILL be a black market for that.



PEANU—-, I MEAN, getcha liver heah, getcha ice cold liver heah, kidneys heah, twofer ten G’s, getcha ice cold kidneys heah, getcha large intestine heah, getcha “fresh caught” wild large intestines, heah!!!

Alfredo from Puerto Rico on October 28, 2013 at 12:10 am

    ‘Fredo: Yes, I am losing my sense of humor in my maturity, for sure. I remember when Larry Hagman got one and then more recently an already-terminal Steve Jobs and now Lou Reed. And then there’s the Chinese executed prisoner “donors” (okay, now that’s kinda funny), poor schlepp untouchables selling their own kidneys and truckloads of stem cells from the tens of thousands of aborted-fetus donors and I know where it’s all heading to.

    Not going to be much pleasantness in culture on this planet in a few generations I don’t think.

    DS_ROCKS! on October 28, 2013 at 12:56 am

      Thanks Alfredo! That was nice of you to say. Danke!

      DSR, I totally agree with you. Jon Grant once called them “ghouls” on this site and I agreed and loved his verbiage on it.

      I will never be a organ donor. I’d not trust any Gubmint with that and I am right put off by the people who are greedy for the organs. I know it ruins it for the good people but bad people always do that.

      Skunky on October 28, 2013 at 10:06 am

        Well, thanks for your thanks. I am a nice guy. And you are a fascinating, intelligent, insightful and very fun sort of person to be around. And also educational, as I have learned, and am learning from many of your posts. Very interesting reading, all the time.

        Alfredo from Puerto Rico on October 28, 2013 at 11:16 am

I liked a few of his songs, Sweet Jane in particular, but he was just not that interesting to me, even though you were supposed to say he was awesome to sound cool.

Why was he and Jim Morrison called poets? Sounded cooler I guess.

Jeff W on October 28, 2013 at 1:03 am

I was at this coffee shop last night in TA, and they were playing the classic Velvet Underground album. I don’t know if the staff there knew Reed had died or if it was just a coincidence. I thought Reed at his best was bloody brilliant, I love the albums New York and Berlin.

As far as defying the BDS Jew-haters to come to play in Israel, it’s actually no big deal, musicians from all over the world come to play here constantly, and notable musicians too. And you don’t hear a thing about it. The only ones who go along with the BDS Nazis or feel pressured not to perform are either Jew-haters themselves or cowards. I mean you wouldn’t know about BDS re musicians given all the music groups and performers who come here.

Larry in Tel Aviv on October 28, 2013 at 1:53 am

FYI, “A Walk on the Wild Side” was originally the title of a 1956 book by Nelson Algren.

Chiara de Blasio (his kid) is in his latest commercials. She has a pierced eyebrow and a pierced nose. She says to vote for her dad because he’ll make the “rich” pay more taxes.

The ads would make me want to vote for ANYONE ELSE, but I guess that’s just me.

Barry Popik on October 28, 2013 at 2:42 am

When I heard that Lou Reed passed, I was like WTF.

But this is the circle of life: people live, people die, and soon it will be our turn.

With that said, I prefer to celebrate his contribution to this cacophony called rock ‘n roll.

Sleep well Lou. May you keep walking this “Dirty Boulevard”. Z”l.

The Reverend Jacques on October 28, 2013 at 9:38 am

Only barely on topic, but yet another performer defied the pressure to boycott Israel. Welch-born singer Tom Jones, now 71, performed in Tel Aviv this weekend to a packed stadium. Reports on Israeli news sites say it was a terrific show.

Raymond in DC on October 28, 2013 at 11:19 am

Tom Jones, whiteness notwithstanding, is a bonafide SOUL singer from mah gen’ration. Tom Jones is a baaaaaad, . . .

and I’m glad to hear he’s still going strong. I listened to an all black radio station for the better part of the period from 1968-78, and when he had a hit, it was played. Something very soulful about those Welsh folks as a people.

Alfredo from Puerto Rico on October 28, 2013 at 11:52 am

My impression was that he was an over-sexed turd. He also “married out.”

Wilma R on October 28, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Besides “Walk on the Wild Side,” one of Mr. Reed’s other most famous – or infamous, depending on one’s point of view – was a double-album full of noise, Metal Machine Music, which only lost-out to the “talking album only” Having Fun with Elvis on Stage by Elvis Presley as the worst rock & roll album of all time in the book The Worst Rock & Roll Records of All Time. I have a copy of that LP, and can truthfully say I’ve heard it all the way through.

As for “Walk on the Wild Side,” it – and the LP from which it came, Transformer – were co-produced by another rock weirdo / “icon,” David Bowie.

ConcernedPatriot on October 28, 2013 at 1:13 pm


Most Jewish men do “marry out”. Thats what lead to THIS (also why Debbie has blue eyes):

News Flash: Science Confirms What We See With Our Own Eyes — Ashkenazi Jews Are White

The latest DNA research (Oct. 2013) on Ashkenazi Jews shows that they are white. The maternal (female) lineage is predominantly from Southern (Italy) and Western Europe. Not from Palestine. It is the paternal (male) lineage that shows partial origins in Palestine.

The research suggests that Jewish men who migrated to Europe from the Near East thousands of years ago married European women who converted to Judaism. Ashkenazi Jews are white and thoroughly European. More than 80 percent of the maternal lineages of the Ashkenazi Jews can be directly traced to Europe.

The “Khazar” theory is false.

See here, here, here, and here.

R: On the other hand, King David had blue eyes and hair that was red (some sources say blond), not necessarily a product of intermarriage. And there are some Arabs with blonde or red hair and light colored eyes. DS

Rocky on October 28, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    Shalom Debbie –

    There are also records that show Vikings traded in the Near and Middle East. I’m sure they had an eye for the Sabras of the time 🙂

    Nir Leui on October 28, 2013 at 2:26 pm

WilmaR, your statements have nothing to do with Tom Jones being a great singer. Two different subjects entirely. I could go through a whole list of names who have not been the greatest people in their personal lives, but who have achieved success and greatness in various fields. Ernest Hemingway, Steven Jobs, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Marvin Gaye, Mickey Mantle, just to name a precious few.

Alfredo from Puerto Rico on October 28, 2013 at 1:30 pm

And Puerto Ricans too, with regard to red, blond(e) hair, blue eyes and green eyes, just to follow up on Debbie’s response. I am descended from a Ukrainian Jewish grandfather and Polish Jewish grandmother on my mother’s side. They met and married at Ellis Island in 1905.

With regard to my Puerto Rican side, we are a massive melting pot down here, and there are huge mistakes that people make in identifying us, partially because most of the Puerto Ricans who migrated to the states in the early to mid 20th Century were the darker skinned variety, mostly field workers and servants, or descendants of such. My Puerto Rican grandfather, descended from Germanic Austrians and Italians had red hair. So did my Puerto Rican grandmother, who was descended from Italians and Corsicans of Italian ancestry.

A grand fallacy is that all Puerto Ricans are a mix of Spaniards and Blacks. I’m not even going to address the Taino issue, because there is a lot of romanticized nonsense about people who THINK they are Taino descendants. VERY few are. While the bulk of Puerto Ricans can trace lineage to Spaniards and Blacks, many are of other ancestry, including Jewish, as there were two migrations of Sephardic Jews to Puerto Rico, one of those being in the 1800’s.

I am extremely white, with blond(e) hair and blue eyes, although up until about age 11, I was mostly red haired, with tons of freckles. Even the dark haired people in my family have extremely white skin, and major sensitivity to the sun.

Alfredo from Puerto Rico on October 28, 2013 at 1:40 pm

I’m glad you took the time to recognize Lou Reed. He was a groundbreaking musician, and has been a very influential force in the music business for decades. And he was always very much in touch with his roots. For example,


Ralph Adamo on October 29, 2013 at 4:37 pm

A side note, in all the memorials to Mr. Reed: One music forum had a thread with the heading, “Were The Beatles The Most Influential Rock Act – Or The Velvet Underground?” – and one of the forum members took a look at the question and pointed out, “No, The Beatles were not The Velvet Underground.”

ConcernedPatriot on October 29, 2013 at 6:16 pm

He has an aunt and cousins in Israel. He has a song about anti-semitism that excoriates Jesse Jackson and others. He was a good Jew.

Phil Dayton on October 30, 2013 at 10:19 pm

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