Now Bleed For Me
The core concept to understand the self imposed decline of the "West" is Guilt.Under acclaimed French Philosphe Pascal Bruckner's magisterial "The Tyranny of Guilt: An Essay on Western Masochism" is so genuinely genius that even one of prime English language practitioners of the pathogen, The Guardian, gave it a rave review.A core thesis for Pascal is that even the most Secular or whatever thinkers, especially on the Left (ie most respectable media) have a deep, primitive, RELIGIOUS sense of Guilt and Original Sin that informs sentiment and choices.A lot of your energy bill really is a schizoid subsidy for rich people to shunt comic windmills and solar panels on houses you can never afford, even as China brings more dirty rag coal power plants on stream than you can count daily, is a symptom of Guilt.Lou Reed is dead.And I feel it.The reaction to this inevitable fact, the toleration of this mercurial genius and the garlands awarded in life to him are part of the same Guilt matrix.The late 1960s and early 1970s were infested by hippies and pretension. Just like our own awful age.The later 1970s were choked like midget fluffers at a gang bang video shoot by punk posing and discofied bling. And the 1980s by yacht rock and faux r an b.Anyone unlucky enough to have read my rantings on Brit Pop will have understood the economic and cultural phenomenon of "crowding out". Where even mainstream critically acclaimed artwork is not noticed or really appreciated in its own time because it does not fit into the favoured product categories of the age.This is a major ticket to a Guilt Trip.And a licence not only for artists to be total dicks, but for critics to hold their noses and lie when another cumback album is emitted. Like Lou Reed in the 1980s and beyond. We didn't Love Him when it mattered, and we can make up for it Now.Lou Reed is dead.Jac Holzman, founder of Elektra Records and Lenny Kaye, Patti Smith's guitar hero (I don't dig her at all, but that's a battle for another day) realised, too late, in 1972 that the hell hound hippies ruined rock and roll.A fog of kaftans, childish non political political rejections of the New Deal and Post War Settlement with all its boring social mobility (was the hated 11 Plus less fair than house prices? REALLY?) and Keynesian Economics in favour of fucking in the streets no nukes up stuff down the man yeah shite, patchouli oil and alternative fashions smothered great music. Sure if you're The Beatles you can do Sgt. Pepper, but what came in its wake was sitar satire and then the worst West End on Ice excesses of Prog. Everyone without flowers in their hair was crowded out.That's why Holzman and Kaye made the Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era comp. If you don't have it and all the later volumes, shame on you and get the fuckers now.The basic idea of the comp was to celebrate singles, many of which charted even, before the infestation of Baby Boomer Faux Radicalism snuffed out the magic.The Velvet Underground were also victims, of an even more extreme nature.This group came out of Andy Warhol's Factory zone. Warhol himself was an advertising art director with ambition, who damaged modern art like a third rate salesman interrupting a symphony.None of the intellectual heart puzzles of De Kooning or Rothko, or the infinite true sexual violence of Francis Bacon. Or even the comic book nightmares of Liechtenstein.No, you can be clever by saying that a box of washing powder made a bit bigger is art. Just like todays dirty bed and pickled shark charlatans. Thanks, Andy. What a bewigged phallus pox he was.But by accident, Andy made genius possible and necessary. It was about competition within the entourage.Even as he intellectually and aesthetically vandalised Modern Art in the mainstream, the socio-economic reality of a dying city plus a Pied Piper of Pretension who needed a fan base alchemised the Beginning of a New Age.Countless really great artists emerged from his circle. Stephen Shore. Nico. Paul Morrissey. The Velvet Underground.New York in the late 60s was not yet the total toilet you see in Driller Killer - that was the burnt out late 70s and 80s.Decay had set in as the old industries had gone bankrupt, stupid white people had fled and a retarded city government flushed the borrowed cash into welfare and salaries as the basic parts of the city decayed. This had not gone septic, so it left a physical space of cheap rent and big spaces everywhere. As in Berlin today (check the rents there compared to putrid Peckham) nature hates a vacuum and the first people to fill it are artists and all those who don't or can't fit in.So you have this unbeatable ecosystem into which a superpredator emerges. Lou Reed.His biography is best understood via the great obit in the Financial Times.I've said it often enough to be extra boring, but the FT, especially the FT Weekend is the last UK paper worthy of more than improvised bog roll. You don't need to be a banker wanker to appreciate a book review written by a relevant academic compared to rantings from Jessie Ware 's PR or some former corporate lawyer who worked for free for five years in organic knickers to get the gig.A less kind accidental epitaph appeared in this week's Popbitch, courtesy of The Metro's "Corrections" page:"Yesterday's Lou Reed tributeshould have referred to hiscollaboration with Metallica onthe album Lulu, rather thancollaborations with Metallicaand Lulu."Not a great way to be remembered. But Lou had been out of the ecosystem that made the music possible.Lou Reed, like many a troubled genius, needed competition and the tension of hate to perform.Why was his output from the 60s to the final great record, Street Hassle, so fucking brilliant?The ghostly hated hands of John Cale, Nico and countless Others.Lou had to show and feel in his soul "I don't need you! I don't need anybody!". And the inconstant flashes of genius after Cale left and Nico closed her legs are the evidence.Part of the schtick was that he cared nothing for critics and acclaim. Nevertheless this "treat em mean and keep em keen" strategy is straight out of the Pimp playbook. And it broadly worked.This image of a singular supergenius does not sit well with playing to the Pope and groundbreaking collaboration with arena metallers, nor his late affection for the likes of Kanye West. I've heard tales of Divadumb Hypocrisy that would make Beyonce blush. Insisting that Wembley was fag free while chaining himself. And then there was that VU "Reunion". Appearing on MTV Buttplugged thus in the same category as Stone Temple Pilots, Mariah Carey and the remains of The Eagles.Lou Reed is dead. Forget the Divazombie reality and let Venus in Furs hate fuck your soul again beautifully like it was the first time - not for Guilt but because Lou Reed is dead.