Not everything in my wallet relates to package design. But when I got this email last month from New York Public Library, about their Lou Reed library card I immediately wanted one.
Special Edition Lou Reed Card Available at the Library for the Performing Arts
To celebrate the opening of the Lou Reed Archive, The Library for the Performing Arts recently released a special edition library card featuring photographer Mick Rock’s iconic picture of Reed. The Lou Reed library card is available exclusively at The Library for Performing Arts on a first come, first served basis.
Reading that “first come, first served” part made me weirdly anxious and a little desperate. I was busy with work, after all. How could I justify a trip way uptown to Lincoln Center to score a card from the Library for the Performing Arts? (Somehow, I found the time.)
The thing is, even without the card, I feel like I’m already a “card-carrying” Lou Reed guy. [Just check out some of my earlier Lou-Reed-related posts: Bobby Grossman’s Corn Flakes, Die Originalen, Under the influence of Lou Reed, George Arents Jr., Mick Rock: Glam! at Show Gallery, Swedish shrink sleeve design (it’s so cold in älska)]
The card’s design is based on the the 1972 album, Lou Reed – Transformer. David Bowie and Mick Ronson produced the album and it contains at least one bonafide hit single. I remember first hearing “Walk on the Wild Side” on the radio in 12th grade while I was riding a school bus to school. (Vicious, Perfect Day and Satellite of Love were also “hit” songs, in my opinion.)
I’d forgotten that the cover included gold, metallic ink. The font used is named “Electus” and type was most likely set at Photo-Lettering, where BEACH partner Deborah Davis would be working a few years later.
Ernest (“Ernie”) Thormahlen holds credits for art direction & design of the cover. I wasn’t familiar with him, but research suggests that he wore many hats. He was an illustrator. (MoMA has his illustrated Velvet Underground cover in their collection.) But I’ve also seen him variously described as Lou Reed’s friend, roadie and tour manager. And apparently he’s also modeled. (Since he’s the guy wearing the hat on Transformer’s back cover—photos on back cover, BTW, are by Karl Stoecker.)
My dinner with Mick Rock
Of course, Mick Rock‘s high-contrast photograph of Reed with microphone and guitar is the best thing about the album’s cover. Someone somewhere has probably written about how overexposed portraits can be more flattering. This is glamorized in that sort of way, but it also feels journalistic.
Recently had dinner with Mick Rock. Me and Debby were at a local restaurant in our neighborhood, while Mick Rock and his wife were at an adjacent table.
I’m too much the bashful fanboy, of course, to ever actually attempt conversation under these circumstances. (I’m pretty sure famous folk don’t like to be accosted by strangers while dining.) So, yeah, Mick Rock and I had dinner, only separately. And I let him eat in peace, even though I have written no fewer than four times about just one of his album cover photos!
So I guess, in a way, my Lou Reed Library card is also my Mick Rock library card.
Note: Last time I had visited the Library of the Performing Arts (prior to getting my new library card) was to check out my great uncle, Arthur P. Dickson‘s collection of movie poster artwork that is housed in that same building. (His collection was donated 1942–1944.)