Turning up to the eponymous Bomb Magazine’s gala fete in lieu of their twenty eight years of survival at the National Arts Club was like turning up to who’s who of culture in America. If one could have soaked the brine out of the room one would of have probably been left with three master plays, a dozen top ten underground hits, a tragic comedy befitting that of any serious absurdist and of course as we are living the tabloid age the years best highlight to good looks and social etiquette.
Honoring the following luminaries- Laurie Anderson, Lou Reed, Alanna Heis, Laurie Simmons, and Carroll Dunham the well heeled crowd (both figuratively and metaphorically) listened intently and quixotically as each recounted snippets of speech prepare ennui, (“…I’ve given you all my best is all that you get out of me.”)
Once Betsy Sussler, Bomb’s Editor in Chief had come off the lantern the audience engaged in the bitter struggle of mingling, eating scrumptious hord’deaves and quenching their loquacious throats (indeed such are the habits of a certain breed of society…) whilst I had the good fortune of engaging Betsy on how she had indeed found either the misery or the good fortune of being around for the last twenty years.
“You know we just set out to capture the way we sounded when we’d meet around the kitchen table. We were just artists who wanted to capture each other’s thoughts and create a forum for reflection and consideration for what was going on…”
Delighted I thanked her and wondered how the kitchen table had spawned many wonderful iterations within our society and how that artists like the ones that first joined hands with Betsy all those years ago, not to mention the artists they were profiling way back then were all now in one room. In my mind I was sure they were both relieved and I suspect absolutely delighted and amazed that their conversations around the kitchen table had landed them this far.
Secretly pleased and confused to be here (was this something to live up to myself? Would we as a culture magazine have to give up on titillation and concentrate on esoteric discussions with German expressionists?) I continued wondering the room in search of good company, a good drink and something unequivocal to consider.
I of course found neither as I immediately found myself staring along the wall where a bevy of art work donated by luminaries such as Richard Serra, Cindy Sherman stood for visual attendance. One particular image whose creator’s name unfortunately escaped me (and perhaps for the better) involved was a diatribe on how ever since her husband started collecting girlie magazines she could no longer attain his attention.
Amused and perplexed I continued along my saunter milling with the crowd, overhearing snippets of new works in progress, how the weather had suddenly gotten better or was perhaps meant to be getting better and how one particular lady was rather proud of herself for acquiring a 1970’s Pucci dress (which admittedly did look rather dashing on her) and how she ran a gallery or was it perhaps the gallery that ran her..?
Out of the corner of my eye I spotted the frame of Lou Reed who looked a smidgen weary and irresolute (by now fame and awards were to him what pain and peanut butter sandwiches are to us- an everyday occurrence). I thought to ask him something witty but then held off when I suddenly remembered the visage of an interview he did back in 1974 in Sydney, Australia with a bunch of journalists after a performance.
Journalist- Do you like singing about drugs, is that because you like taking drugs?
Lou- No, I don’t take drugs.
Journo; Yet you sing about them?
Lou: I’m high on life.
Journo: Yet you want people to take them?
Lou: Oh yeah, I want them to take drugs.
Journo: Why is that?
Lou: Because it’s better than monopoly.
I must have had a big grin on my face and for a moment I wondered if Lou had seen me there with my notebook, pen, a typical journalist waiting to be snapped in half if they should dare approach him.
Scallywag: Lou, Scallywag here for Scallywagandvagabond. Do you mind if I ask you a couple of questions?
Lou Reed: Depends.
Scallywag: How does it feel to be celebrated tonight?
Lou Reed: Ok.
Scallywag: Did you ever imagine you would be standing here one day, being honored?
Lou Reed; No, it never occurred to me.
Scallywag: Why do you make music?
Lou Reed: Do I really have to answer these questions?
And there you had it. I got the ‘fxck you’ treatment from Lou Reed as well. I had joined the club of reviled journalists, bloggers that Reed had over the years learned to skewer and spit out. Even the ones who were his biggest fans that held him to revere. I could only think of one thing to say.
Scallywag: Fxck you too Lou.
Of course, I didn’t say anything and just winked at him, ‘No Lou, you’re the anti rock-God, forgive me,’ and walked away, as Lou by now was fielding another journalist’s hapless cause to get to know him. Only Lou knew Lou. If you wanted to know Lou, you had to listen to his music and maybe then, just maybe you could understand what he was about and why we had all turned up that day to honor him.
True, Bomb magazine are not your typical journalists, they are for the many years that I have been reading them the conduit of what goes in the minds of brilliant talent such as Mr. Reed and what we aspire and fear at the same time. Of course with Betsy Sussler not only had she channeled those discussions into a provocative paradigm (by now they had the Smithsonian agreed to make their interviews legacy honoree inductions) but to enlighten and temper eager and aspiring cultural pundits the world over. All in all a wonderful evening and a tempest to the writers and artists in that room and who will eventually walk through that room…