Sunday, October 23, 2011

Dirty Blvd.: Issa's Sunday Service, #124

Perhaps it is appropriate, with the Occupy the World movement (including Sesame Street) in full swing, that this week's selection is Lou Reed's powerful "Dirty Blvd."  It is one of Lou's heavy narrative lyrics and he manages to turn Emma Lazarus "The New Colossus" on its head with a swift backhand:

The New Colossus

   Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame
   With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
   Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
   A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
   Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
   Mother of Exiles.  From her beacon-hand
   Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
   The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame,
   "Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
   With silent lips.  "Give me your tired, your poor,
   Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
   The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
   Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
   I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
                     Emma Lazarus

In addition to paraphrasing lines to deadly effect, Lou renames the famous Statue itself:

Give me your hungry, your tired,
your poor I'll piss on 'em
That's what the Statue of Bigotry says
Your poor huddled masses
Let's club 'em to death
And get it over with
and just dump 'em on the boulevard

Never one to take prisoners, Lou's perspective is every bit as relevant today in light of the recent nationwide protests as it was in 1989 when it first appeared on his dynamite New York album.  We think of this as an urban problem, but obviously its universality is becoming more and more apparent.

Here is a version of "Dirty Blvd.," along with "White Light, White Heat," done as a duet with David Bowie on the occasion of the later's 50th birthday.


This week's featured poem from the archive comes from Lilliput Review, #64, December 1964, which has been featured before here and here.   This is the 12th poem featured from that issue and it's a good one.

When Asked To Name The Seven
        Most Beautiful Words. . .

             Jeanne Shannon

red clouds--
above the butterfly too
autumn dusk
translated by David G. Lanoue

Send a single haiku for the Wednesday Haiku feature. Here's how.

Go to the LitRock web site for a list of all 124 songs


Charles Gramlich said...

I can't play this one because I recently had to disable all my plugins. However, I must admit that I am not a Lou Reed fan. I don't know about his lyrics but the one song I identify with him is "walk on the wild side," which is probably the song I dislike the most in the modern rock/pop era.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Charles, yes, I remember now you lack of affection for Lou. Guess the disabling of plug-ins worked this time, but I hope you can get them back for other things you need.


Mark Pritchard said...

Really enjoyed the Reed/Bowie video. Though pretty soon their audience is going to look like one of those old fat audiences for Peter Paul and Mary reunions on PBS pledge drives. (Speaking as someone who is 55 and fat.)

Anonymous said...

pick "it" up with ECSTASY

& then ..... track-back to mid 1970's
where LR REALLY picked my que with


(speaking as someone who is 70 and skinny & never could stand Peter, Paul & Mary !)

Issa's Untidy Hut said...


Which may be why Lou has taken up with Metallica for his brand new album, Lulu ... to make sure us old farts in the back row aren't nodding off!

(Kokkie-san, check out the album cover and groove on the Louise Brooks, Marlene Dietrich etc connections via above link - right up your street).


Anonymous said...

couldn't (yet) find the link to Louise Brooks & etc I got "way laid" (a-gain via those films of:

that "greatest rock & roll band of ALL times coin "Walk on the Wild Side"..

Conan "nailed it" what a giggle ...

and then on to that Reed/Vega piece ... !!

as for Louise Brooks ?

I got a piece it stands about exactly in the door-way of my kitchen at 42 and one half inches tall and I got her hair right
except it s color one day I'll paint it black as she is/was in Diary of a Lost Girl

beautiful beautiful beautiful beauty under her bob.

I call my 42 1/2 " piece "Louise Brooks"

( can't find a picture of it to send along ...

for those who "dig" such-as-it -is "stuff

and that American Spiritual they do: White Light !!!!!

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Kokkie-san, Lou's take on the femme fatale - a la the film Pandora's Box starring Lousie Brooks as Lulu, Dietrich's Blue Angel etc.

Here's some back ground.

This is even better.

Even better than that, the chapbooks are in the mail today!


Nathan said...

So awesome. I need to hang out on your blog more.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...


Yeah! Sunday's music day, Monday Twitter poem, Wednesday Haiku, Friday a regular post/review.

In case you needed a scorecard.

See ya soon ...