Anyone else read the new DeCurtis Lou bio?

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leamanc
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Anyone else read the new DeCurtis Lou bio?

Postby leamanc » 31 Oct 2017 01:10

I read it, and it's perfectly fine. Can't say I learned a whole lot, except for some details about Lou's younger years. That part covered a lot of territory I had never read anywhere before.

Of course, not being a Velvet Underground book specifically, it breezes past 1965-1970 pretty damn quick. But I suppose that comes with the territory of trying to tell the story of a musician's 5-decade career. We get as much time devoted to Mistrial as we do White Light/White Heat.

There were a few stories posted leading up to the book's release where DeCurtis talked about how he would have to show the "ugly" side of Lou to tell the truth, and some fans may come away from it with a bad taste in their mouth over all the "revelations." But nothing was truly shocking. Who didn't know Lou was a dick, who became more and more of a control freak as time went on (starting with ousting Cale from the VU)? Who didn't know that he consumed massive amounts of alcohol and other drugs, and that he wasn't a good husband until he sobered up and married Laurie? Who didn't know that he sabotaged the VU reunion in 1993 by treating Cale, Sterling and Moe like his latest backup band?

Still, this will probably be the best and most comprehensive Lou bio we ever get. It's certainly not bad. I enjoyed it. It just didn't live up to pre-release hype of having shocking revelations.

Anyone else read it yet, and have some thoughts on it?

threechordwonder
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Re: Anyone else read the new DeCurtis Lou bio?

Postby threechordwonder » 27 Nov 2017 14:19

An abridged version is being broadcast in UK by Radio Four, 5 episodes each 15 minutes long, starting 13:45 on 27th November (and repeated at 00:30) or you can use the catch-up service (UK only I think).

There's also a 2015 bio by Aidan Levy - "Dirty Blvd.: The Life and Music of Lou Reed" https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=o6aBCgAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=dirty+blvd+book&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjlwL676t7XAhVIXBoKHXsiDosQ6AEIKDAA#v=onepage&q=dirty%20blvd%20book&f=false

I've searched the forum but could not find any reference to it. Ludlow street gets a mention but to be honest I have not read the rest of the preview.

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Sheila Klein
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Re: Anyone else read the new DeCurtis Lou bio?

Postby Sheila Klein » 28 Nov 2017 03:30

I did review the Aidan Levy book, for Byron Coley's Bull Dung Review, although the issue it's for has yet to be published. The review byline, by the way, is a play on Lou's mother's original name of Toby Futterman.

--Phil M.


Dirty Blvd., by Aidan Levy
review by Phobie Tutterman

I have studied the life and art of Lou Reed for over 40 years, and thought I knew everything worth knowing about the guy. How wrong I was! For his new Reed biography Dirty Blvd. Aidan Levy has gotten on the record over a dozen key figures from Lou's life who have scarcely, if ever, been interviewed before. If you too believe yourself a Reed expert, you'll be humbled by some of the information brought to light here.

For instance, did you know that Lou's mom was a teenage beauty queen — Queen, to be specific, of the Stenographers at the 1939 Brooklyn Stenographers Ball? There's even a picture to prove it! Dirty Blvd. includes a busload of shit like that, the tastiest piece being a quote from one of The Tots, the teenaged band from Yonkers who backed Reed on his first solo tour. Context is unnecessary here: "The guy jumped onstage, and he bit Lou’s ass!"

Alas, Levy's judgment of what's essential and what's tangential is more than a trifle distorted. For instance, he devotes nearly five times more space to a pointless discussion of the Brooklyn Dodgers than to Reed's fatal illness and death. Even with his many excellent interview "gets," unless one has the wherewithal to dodge its many droppings of irrelevant gunk Dirty Blvd. is hardly even a reliable study-guide for your family's next Lou Reed trivia night.

But the biggest problem by far is that the facts Levy has gathered he's chosen to convey via words. Words which he then batters into sentences, and sentences which he clubs into paragraphs. His style is so thick with cliché, mixed metaphor, nonsensical digression, tortured allusion and outright pretense, yet so impoverished of acuity, that to wander onto his battlefield of prose is to risk getting a virtual leg blown off. Indeed, Levy shoots his words across the page as if the reader is his enemy.

Materiel abounds. "The Velvet Underground's raw sound, which was not always intentional, became a lingua franca for the burgeoning punk scene, even though the newly christened godfather strove to distance what he considered the Velvets' cerebral take on high modernism from the doggerel of some pale imitators." "The closing track ... revolves around a plagal cadence and insouciant backbeat, employing vivid imagery to juxtapose the fraught upbringing depicted throughout the rest of the album with the 'cool and cleansing water' of another parenting model." "Yet it was also the street Lou chose to walk himself, navigating past the white-collar allure of Madison Avenue or Wall Street for the potholes and manholes of a dirtier path."

Did I mention stupefying run-on sentences? I can't tell if it's hard or easy to write as badly as Levy does here, but Dirty Blvd. sure is fatiguing to read. Had a magic wand been waved over it and the writing brought up to the standard of the talking heads, it could've been as tasty as Lou Reed's ass.

threechordwonder
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Re: Anyone else read the new DeCurtis Lou bio?

Postby threechordwonder » 28 Nov 2017 19:46

Cheers Phil, I guess I'll save my pennies, or buy beer.

ps: What is Bull Dung Review? I have not encountered it before. I'd guess it's a magazine or site to expose sub-standard writing & artistry.

peppergomez
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Re: Anyone else read the new DeCurtis Lou bio?

Postby peppergomez » 29 Nov 2017 02:40

I agree with your assessment of Levy's writing skills. Holy moly. I read excerpts on Amazon and Christ that guy is a hack.

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Sheila Klein
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Re: Anyone else read the new DeCurtis Lou bio?

Postby Sheila Klein » 29 Nov 2017 04:13

What is Bull Dung Review?


The actual title is Bull Tongue Review, but I'll call it Dung if I want to!

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pineappleaftermath
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Re: Anyone else read the new DeCurtis Lou bio?

Postby pineappleaftermath » 30 Nov 2017 04:14

I wouldn't dismiss Dirty Blvd. outright, I actually preferred it to DeCurtis' book. Sure the writing could be a bit much but I found it more interesting because of anecdotes from people like The Tots and Terry Phillips (who knew Lou as a young punk and then met him again later on). The DeCurtis book is well written but as mentioned it sped through a lot and didn't give much new information or insights, so I ended up being a little underwhelmed.

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Sheila Klein
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Re: Anyone else read the new DeCurtis Lou bio?

Postby Sheila Klein » 04 Dec 2017 06:06

This one is damn interesting:

https://tinyurl.com/ycew9jsl

It's an odd duck of a book, but considering how maligned she was by Lou over the years it's valuable to finally get her story, biased though it may be, on the record.

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pineappleaftermath
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Re: Anyone else read the new DeCurtis Lou bio?

Postby pineappleaftermath » 06 Dec 2017 01:27

Sheila Klein wrote:This one is damn interesting:

https://tinyurl.com/ycew9jsl

It's an odd duck of a book, but considering how maligned she was by Lou over the years it's valuable to finally get her story, biased though it may be, on the record.


I read this one too, and boy the writing is... not great either. Kinda cringeworthy at times. But again, I would recommend it for the content if you are interested in Lou because of the time period plus it gives some insight into his personality and behaviour, both good and bad. And as you said it's good to get her story because what was written about her in the Transformer biography isn't true.

threechordwonder
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Re: Anyone else read the new DeCurtis Lou bio?

Postby threechordwonder » 07 Dec 2017 18:09

Sheila Klein wrote:
What is Bull Dung Review?


The actual title is Bull Tongue Review, but I'll call it Dung if I want to!


Thanks Phil, you punked me completely.


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