I saw "CBGB the Movie" just a few days before Lou Reed died. A portrayal of the Velvet Underground leading icon is featured in the movie, along with many other punk icons who rocketed to stardom from the Bowery launch pad. A few days later, Twitter and Facebook lit up the minute the news broke of Reed's death. And still, weeks later there are flickers of remembrances still lighting up social media -- as is right and just. Remembrances and celebrations should go on as long and loud as we want.
My favorite Reed tribute was likely everyone's, the one written by his wife and decades long partner, Laurie Anderson, which floated almost instantly down the interweb river: http://rol.st/1ffIZeE. How she got her heart and words together so quickly I will never know, but I suspect it is the power of a mighty heart. As Anderson says, "Like many couples, we each constructed ways to be -- strategies, and sometimes compromises, that would enable us to be part of a pair. Sometimes we lost a bit more than we were able to give, or gave up way too much, or felt abandoned. Sometimes we got really angry. But even when I was mad, I was never bored. We learned to forgive each other. And somehow, for 21 years, we tangled our minds and hearts together."
Two very strong hearts tangling can be messy business. Knots, snags, rips and tears happen. "CBGB the Movie" is a fun ride that doesn't dwell too much on the knots. It is a love letter, largely addressed to CBGB owner Hilly Cristal and to a lesser degree to Punk Magazine's John Holstrom, who is sometimes credited as titling the movement. Hilly, it appears, was due one hell of a love letter for all that he did for his artists. There is footage of him finally being publicly acknowledged at the induction of the Talking Heads into the Rock& Roll Hall of Fame as the "father of punk," but that was about it for the public love letters.
I'm sure many uttered the words I heard someone who clearly had known him say: "I wish Hilly could have seen that." A love letter never received.
We need to write more love letters to the living. How amazing would it have been to have seen Laurie Anderson's letter in Rolling Stone years before his death, or a movie about CBGB and Hilly when he was alive and able to catch the love wave? Are we too embarrassed and vulnerable to let our love be known while people are around to witness our confessions?
I recently went to a young friend's memorial, and as is often the case at memorials the mantra of the day was, "He would have loved this." Even better, "I hope he knew how loved he was."
We never know how loved people really feel. We need to start erring on the side of telling them more. There can never be too many love letters. Ever.
I leave you with Lou Reed's love letter to music, his last interview which includes this gem: "Ordered sound is music. My life is music."
Now, go write someone a love letter and let it be perfect just the way it is.