Remembering Lou Reed

October 27, 2013 § Leave a comment

lou_reed_takes_his_best_shots-460x307Deeply sad to hear about Lou Reed’s death. I have thought a lot about him since I was lucky enough to interview him for Salon, back in 2006. Days before the opening of the rock icon’s first major photography exhibit in New York, we spoke about his photographs, which were surprisingly sentimental and pretty. “I was following this beauty, this overwhelming beauty that you see in New York,” Reed told me as we sat in the Steven Kasher Gallery, in Chelsea, surrounded by pictures of sunsets, darkly glowing clouds, moving light and the view of the Hudson River from his West Side apartment.

Reed, a notoriously difficult interview, immediately put me on notice. He made fun of my low-tech tape recorder — and my name, which he found absurdly punny, given my profession. He was in complete control of our conversation, leaving me and my list of questions hopelessly scrambling to keep up as he discussed his technique and inspiration and associations. But when he decided I was not out to get him, as he obviously felt many journalists were, he warmed up, speaking to me longer than scheduled, even reaching out, at one point, to give my hand a little approving pat. He appeared to want nothing more than to be heard and understood, to connect.

“I think these things are fascinating and beautiful and available to anybody,” he said of his photographs, or perhaps the moments he sought to capture in them. “And I think beautiful things make us feel good.”

As I finally moved to leave, taking my apparently ridiculous tape recorder with me, Reed enveloped me in a hug. It may have been after I told him I had been seated in front of him years before, in 2001, at soul singer Howard Tate’s first back-from-nowhere NYC gig at the Village Underground, a night no one in attendance would ever forget. Or it may not. I can’t specifically remember what prompted his sudden warm embrace. But I do remember that, after I revealed I had only months before had my second child, he pulled me back into the gallery to look at an image he thought would mean something special to a new parent.

It was a generous gesture, and I was touched, if perhaps a bit confused, by it, as I was by the call I got afterward from his rep, asking if I would be interested in interviewing Reed for a British magazine that wanted a word with him. “Lou wants you to do it,” the rep said, sounding frankly mystified. “He liked you.”

The feeling was mutual.

Lou Reed takes his best shots (Salon)

Steven Tyler makes some ‘Noise’

May 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

During a recent episode of “American Idol,” the popular TV talent show in which the famously foul-mouthed and flamboyant Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler has reinvented himself as a family-friendly judge, host Ryan Seacrest good-naturedly stopped by the judging table to rib Tyler about his new book, “Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?”

“This book is not for the faint of heart,” Seacrest noted, adding, “You’ve really exposed yourself here. Is there any area you haven’t touched?”

Tyler dodged the question, but the answer may well be “no.” …

“Does the Noise In My Head Bother You?”: A rock star revealed (Salon)

Your kids’ summer reading lists

June 3, 2010 § Leave a comment

Memorial Day is just around the corner, and school is nearly out. Even if you’ve planned a full summer of activities for your kids — camps, trips, days at the beach — there may come a moment when they look at you, bored and beseeching, wondering how to fill those long, hot days. What then? Hand them a book. A really good book. To help you out, we’ve put together two lists of great books for kids, one tailored especially for girls, one curated with boys in mind, though of course all the books on these lists may be enjoyed by kids of either gender …

Building a Bookworm: Great books for girls and boys (Salon)

A Qatari’s take on U.S. culture

April 21, 2010 § Leave a comment

Every once in a while, you encounter a character in a work of fiction who feels like such a real person, such a friend, that once you finish the book, you miss having him around. Karim Issar, the protagonist of Teddy Wayne’s captivating debut novel, “Kapitoil,” is such a character. When we first meet Karim, a gifted computer programmer from Doha, Qatar, he is en route to New York City, flying in to help the financial services firm he works for, Schrub Equities, survive the Y2K bug. The year is 1999, and “Kapitoil” reminds us that pre-9/11 New York was not quite as innocent as we may remember it …

Review: “Kapitoil” by Teddy Wayne (Salon)

Get the “New All”?

June 1, 2009 § Leave a comment

Mommy wars, brain drains, opt-out revolutions — working mothers have been through (or at least been warned about) them all. Now comes “Womenomics: Write Your Own Rules for Success,” a new book by Claire Shipman, senior national correspondent for ABC News’ “Good Morning America” and mother of two, and Katty Kay, Washington correspondent and anchor for “BBC World News America” and mother of four. In their book, the news veterans call for women to say no to 60-plus-hour work weeks and overly demanding jobs that yank them away from their families. Instead, they urge working women to use their clout in the workplace to demand fewer hours at the office, turn down non-family-friendly assignments, and take control of their time by working from home more, checking e-mail less and avoiding meetings whenever possible …

She works too hard for the money (Salon)

Finding hope at the 99-cent store

April 27, 2009 § Leave a comment

The other night, despite recent household budget cutbacks, my husband, kids and I threw a spontaneous (modest) dinner party, inviting two families we’ve recently become friendly with. Upon arrival, one of the men, who’d come straight from his Wall Street office, presented the five assembled children with small gifts: Sour Flush candies, packaged in little plastic toilets with lollipop “plungers.” As the small people gleefully jumped up and down, spreading the sugary contents of their wee loos every which way, the rest of the parents looked quizzically at the bestower of the peculiar presents. “I haggled,” he explained, with a shrug. “I wanted to see how low the guy would go.” …

How I learned to haggle (

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