Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sweet Lou

It's rough being a weirdo in a small town. Everything you do is a potential embarrassment to your family. In it's own way it's even worse to go off to college where, in the US at least, you're encouraged to explore the limits of your weirdness. When that college is in a town smaller than the one you're from and your classmates are from even smaller places it can be a special kind of torture. Explore if you must but not too far and if you do or say something truly disturbing no one will meet your eyes in the dining hall, let alone sit with you.

My freshman year in college was all that. There's a unique tension in the moment before you decide to chuck the normalcy that's expected of you and embrace your weirdness full on. That moment for me was standing in the at that time lone music store in Punxsutawney with a copy of "Velvet Underground & Nico" in my hand, Andy Warhol's iconic banana painting beckoning me. I'd read and loved Warhol's From A to B and Back Again in high school and he was the personal idol of one of my dearest friends, someone who encouraged my weirdness. That was good enough for me. When I got back to my room and put it on my very normal roommate couldn't leave fast enough.

I listened to nothing else for days. "Heroin" was and still is my favorite. All that sonic insanity loosed something. That album sounded like I felt inside. It was breathtaking and wrenching and it made it okay. There could be beauty in strangeness.

Now I get that there's where beautiful things lie, in the strangeness. In the weirdness. Thank you, Mr. Reed, for lighting my walk to that place. Rest well.


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