Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Gurus of Gauss and ... Lou Reed rides a folder!

Laurie Anderson with her Explorer's Club certificate of appreciation, while hubby Lou Reed looks windswept and interesting.
What's this? The Explorer's Club is officially busting out of its extreme snowshoe and crampon mold:

Last night's event - a surprising detour from summit-talk and diving bell banter - was a discourse between famous avante-garde composer Laurie Anderson and experimental muso and "philosopher-naturalist" David Rothenburg. And what's this ... DJ Snoopy slated for an upcoming talk on the calendar? Rock on Hillary! But even more surprisingly, Lou Reed was in attendance. More about that in a moment.

For the uninitiated, the EC is an oak-clad clubhouse hung with the stuff of distinguished adventure - dug out canoes, sleds and snowshoes worn by someone on Wikipedia. It's where scholarly thrillseekers rub ice picks under the watchful eye of a giant (stuffed) gnashing polar bear.

The association between these avante-garde artists and the Explorer's Club is not as tenuous as might think: as the presenter Jim Clash mentioned, both Anderson and Rothenburg have been exploring the "aural frontier" for their entire careers, from recording whalesongs and birdsongs (Rothenburg) to inventing a techhy "talking stick" and a concert especially for dogs ("thousands of dogs") on the steps of the Sydney Opera House (Anderson). Anderson is also the very first artist in residence for NASA - you can't beat that for creds.

I confess that I went along on the nostalgia of Anderson's seminal album, "Big Science." Since my copy is locked away in some dusty box Downunder, I had this puerile notion she'd have a few on hand to sell and autograph. Truth is, she's done so many things since then, she must feel the frustration of environmental artists Christo and the late Jean-Claude, who are constantly bound and gagged by their "wrapped object" reputations even though they've not wrapped anything for years.

The audience included a number of electronic music students, eager to pick up some static from the two "gurus of gauss".
Lou Reed rides a folding bike - a Brompton from bfold.com
AS I have yet to acquaint myself with Rothenburg's work, I was a little disappointed that aside from some recorded whale noises bookending the 1 hour talk, no examples were played.  When I pedaled around the globe giving talks as a "crayolacam" filmmaker I always made sure to play some footage - in fact, it got me off the hook: the more I played, the less I had to elaborate.

The more you say, the less people hear.

In the women's restroom line, I asked other women why they came, and the phrase "Big Science" was uttered all around - even by Rothenburg's mother.

As I was unfolding my Bike Friday tikit to leave, someone mentioned that Anderson's hubby Lou Reed was up there. LOU REED?!!? I re-folded my bike and raced back upstairs. Yup, there he was, was sitting off to one side as his wife was thronged by genuflecting Explorers.

Lou Reed rides a folding bike. He bought it from a good friend of mine, David Lam, who owns the tiny, below-the-stoop East Village folding bike shop, www.bfold.com. Ah, what an icebreaker folding bikes are - way better than "Hey man, Walk on the Wild side was CLASSIC."

Reed revealed that he bought a Brompton, initially the one with titanium bits and 2 speeds, but opted later for the regular 6 speed model. (Lam says he actually had the fancy titanium one upgraded to add gears).

Me and my pink steeds - left is the Speeding tikit (for commuting), right is the Pocket Rocket Pro (for road). 

"You need the speeds 'round here," he said gruffly. He nodded to my princess pink Bike Friday tikit.

"That a competitor?"

"They're for different things," I said diplomatically. "I rode across Cuba on a Bike Friday."

On noting from my card that I teach yoga, he said "I want to introduce you to someone," and summoned his wife over from the throng. I started telling him about the 82-year young woman I read about in Yoga Journal who started doing yoga at 65 because she "looked around at her friends and said, I have two choices: do yoga or become a decrepit little old lady...". Don't ask me why I brought that up as Anderson ain't that old, but you know how it goes in the presence of celebrity ....

Anderson graciously extracted herself and I committed the crime I said I'd never do - I started blubbering about Big Science.

"Ah, geez, that was SO long ago," said the diminutive La Laurie, shrugging her shoulders.

I slipped away before they registered my presence further and sped south into the balmy early spring Manhattan night on my folding bike - glad to add another fun little Galfromdownunder Upover celeb shot to my iPhone ...

Thanks so much to the patient young Explorer who obliged by taking our photos!

2 comments:

statrixbob said...

Large portions of my youth and early adulthood were spent listening to Lou Reed. Large portions of my recent age seem to be devoted to riding folding bikes.

Things never change do they? :-)

Aloha!

Glenn said...

Lou Reed; that's cool. And a cyclist to boot.