In 1989 -- my third year in Brooklyn -- Lou Reed released New York, an album of 14 songs packed with poetry, rage, sadness, bile, and humor. Scattered through the lyrics are names and places familiar to anyone who lived in New York in the late '80s: Eleanor Bumpers, Michael Stewart, Tompkins Square, Jesse Jackson, Morton Downey, Rudy Guiliani, Howard Beach.
On tour that year, Reed generally played the album from start to finish.
Caught between the twisted stars
The plotted lines
The faulty map
That brought Columbus to New York
Betwixt between the East and West
He calls on her wearing a leather vest
The earth squeals and shudders to a halt ...
I'll take Manhattan in a garbage bag
With Latin written on it that says
"It's hard to give a shit these days"
Manhattan's sinking like a rock, into the filthy Hudson
What a shock
They wrote a book about it, they said it was like ancient Rome ...