Sunday, October 27, 2013


I loved Lou Reed and his music.

I remember when I was about 14 years old and my family would stay at my grandmother's house.  She had no television, and only old records for a seldom-used stereo.  If I wanted to listen to any of my own music I had to bring my little transistor radio and hope it would pick up some stray station late at night.  I spent hours in the back bedroom at her house, listening for sounds to catch my ear.

That was when I first heard "Sweet Jane".  I thought it was one of the best songs I had ever heard up to that point in my life.  It wasn't until a while later when browsing through the record bin at my little town's downtown PayLess Drug that I noticed the name of the song on an album called "Loaded" by The Velvet Underground.  I didn't think much about it, and it ended up slipping my mind.  It wasn't long after that when "Walk On The Wild Side" happened, and then I found out who Lou Reed was...  formerly a Velvet and now out on a solo career.

Again I kind of put Lou on the back burner, but when I was at the University of Oregon in the late Seventies and early Eighties it was a whole different story.  I got caught up in all the punk and "new wave" stuff going on at the time, and a few of my music buddies talked about how so much of it was derivative of (or influenced by) The Velvet Underground...  so I checked them out, and I got hooked.

I probably listened to "White Light, White Heat a hundred times during the next few years.  I remember going through a pretty mighty Lou/Velvets phase, exemplified by some heavy drinking and "stage diving" off an old couch onto the hardwood floor at my good friend Sonny's house with "Sister Ray" cranked way up...  and on several occasions there was some pretty tribal-style cathartic dancing to the song "The Blue Mask", one of Lou's best and fiercest recorded moments.

That led to the later acquisitions of the "New Sensations", "Mistrial" and "New York" albums through the Eighties, and then to "Set The Twilight Reeling" in the Nineties.  Plus the Velvet Underground box set "Peel Slowly And See" and Lou's box set "Between Thought And Expression"...  all essential items for my music collection.  And he continued to produce music that got to my heart up until his mid-fifties.

From songs like "Coney Island Baby" and "Kill Your Sons" to "The Blue Mask" and "Set The Twilight Reeling", Lou Reed excelled in writing songs from the gut.  To my way of seeing things, there were no songs he wrote that weren't genuinely his own, and none that didn't come from deep inside him.  And what a mind he had.

After the "Set The Twilight Reeling" album in 1996 I didn't find his releases as appealing, and I kind of drifted away from his music.  I was particularly disappointed with "Lulu", the album he did with Metallica in 2011.  It saddens me that something I enjoyed so little was his last recording.  But it didn't really matter, because by then he had long ago cemented himself in my mind as one of the best and most intelligent rock and rollers to have walked the planet.

Looks like it's time to have a beer or two and go crank up some Lou Reed.  I'm thinking "Busload Of Faith" or "Good Evening, Mr. Waldheim" might sound pretty damned good right about now.  I got to see him perform those songs live at a show in Seattle in 1989 while he was out touring for his "New York" album, and it was a great show.  That CD always brings back some great memories.

Lou Reed isn't with us now physically, but his music will live forever, and he will live forever in it.

"And the glory of love...  the glory of love...  the glory of love might see you through."  

Friday, October 25, 2013


Sunday, October 20, 2013


It may still be a bit early for predictions, but from my angle it looks like the Pacific-12 conference championship could well be decided by the Civil War game (Oregon State at Oregon) in Eugene on Friday, November 29.  The Ducks and the Beavers.  Oregon is 7-0 overall, and 4-0 in the Pac-12, and Oregon State is 6-1 and 4-0.

Before we get to that point, Oregon has to get past UCLA in Eugene next Saturday, Stanford in Palo Alto on Thursday, November 7, Utah in Eugene Saturday, November 16, and Arizona in Tuscon on November 23.

For their part, the Beavers, they host Stanford next Saturday and USC on Friday November 1.  They travel to play Arizona State in Tempe, AZ Saturday, November 16.  They then host Washington in Corvallis before traveling to Eugene for the Civil War game.

If the Ducks are able to handle UCLA and Stanford, they should also be able to beat Utah and Arizona.  The Ducks have been dominant through their first seven games, averaging 57 points per outing.  They have a balanced offensive attack.  Quarterback Marcus Mariota has a variety of excellent receivers to throw to, and Byron Marshall has developed into a quality running back in the absence of D'Anthony Thomas, who had generated Heisman Trophy buzz prior to the season but was lost to an ankle injury several weeks ago.  While Thomas is one of the better running backs in the country, his absence has allowed the Ducks to develop and refine other talents and approaches.  Assuming Thomas will be back during the next week or two, Oregon's offense could surpass its current level.  The Ducks have a good defense too.  Not as dominant as the offense, but good enough to allow just 17 points per game.

Oregon State's season got off to a bad start when they lost at home to Eastern Washington, but since that game they have gradually become better and better each week.  Quarterback Sean Mannion and wide receiver Brandin Cooks lead the nation's second-best passing offense.  The OSU defense has been settling down and not allowing as many points as they were in their first few games.  What looked like it might be an awful year for the Beavers has turned into what is their typical pattern under head coach Mike Riley...  start off the season unprepared and not ready for the first game, but them become unbeatable by around mid-season.  This approach tend to keep OSU out of the national championship discussion, but by the time the games that matter (Pac-12 conference games) roll around, the Beavers are usually ready to go.

Oregon's toughest remaining games are against UCLA and Oregon State, and they get to play host to both teams.  The Beavers' toughest games are both on the road, against the Sun Devils and the Ducks.

Predictions?  I'll go ahead and make them now, but in five weeks I will probably return to this post and have a good chuckle, because you just never know.

Leading up to the Civil War game, I'll say Oregon beats UCLA and Utah at home.  Tuscon can be a tough place to play, but the road game against Arizona shouldn't be a problem because Arizona simply isn't that good this season.  The Beavers are collectively higher than a kite right now, and I think they will take Stanford and USC at home.  They will face a big test at Arizona State, as ASU has a highly-prolific offense and is tough on their home field.  I don't think they will get past the Sun Devils.  After that, they should rebound against the Washington Huskies in Corvallis before heading to Eugene.  Oregon could enter the Civil War game 8-0 or 7-1 in the conference, and the Beavers could be 8-0 or 7-1.  I think UO will be 8-0, and OSU will be 7-1, and whatever their records as they enter,, the game will have big bowl implications.

As a Duck fan, I have to say I'm happy the Civil War game is in Eugene this year.  Oregon's defense had a tough time defending Washington State's quarterback Connor Halladay, who completed 58 of 89 pass attempts for 557 yards.  The 89 pass attempts was a record.  If there is any silver lining for Oregon, it was that the first string defense allowed about 400 yards of the total, and 24 points of WSU's 38 point total.

But Oregon will have to defend against Mannion, and against Cooks and the rest of the OSU receiving corps.  I believe they will be able to shut that down somewhat, because 1) their pass defense is good, and 2) defensive coordinator Nick Alioti will have OSU figured out enough by that time that his good pass defense will find success in forcing the Beavers to run the ball...  and OSU does not have much of a running game at all.  As for OSU defending against Oregon's mulit-faceted offensive attack, I don't believe they will has as much luck keeping the Ducks from scoring.

A more versatile offense and an adequate defense will beat a one-dimensional offense and an adequate defense.  Oregon has more weapons, and I think that will be what determines who wins.

However you look at it, the state of Oregon looks to be in the Pac-12 driver's seat this year