Turning Cosmic Litter Into Gold

One good reason to be better connected with my alumni association (read: write big checks), is to get invited to events like this.

Lou Reed ’64 Honored for Achievements in Music, Writing, and Artistic Expression

“We have an alchemist in our company tonight,” Bono announced to the crowd. “Lou Reed not only inhabits his chosen universe, but he also creates it. Lou has turned the cosmic litter of this city into gold.” Bono, U2’s irrepressible front man, was among a parade of luminaries who had come to New York ‘s way-beyond-hip W hotel in Union Square on April 26 to fete the “Mad Monk of Rock” at Syracuse University ‘s Arents Award Celebration.

It was no stretch to call this party a star-studded bash. The presence of Reed, Bono, and David Bowie earned it that much. But the guest list did not quit: Marty Bandier ’62, chair and CEO of Sony/ATV Music Publishing; hotelier Ian Schrager ’68, who later hosted a rooftop after-party at his fabulous Gramercy Park Hotel; and photographer/filmmaker Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, whose 1998 biodoc, Lou Reed: Rock and Roll Heart, provided screen clips for the celebration. Entertainment mogul Rick Dobbis ’70 emceed the festivities, which took place just blocks from Max’s Kansas City , where Reed played with the Velvet Underground in the group’s glory days, including the final gig, some 35 years ago.

“As a social psychologist, I can’t resist thinking a bit about why this community of Lou’s friends, fellow artists, and fellow alumni has come together tonight,” observed SU Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor. She praised Reed’s courage, compassion, engagement, and honesty, characterizing him as a “timeless poet” and “muse for us all.” “Our mission is to instill the value of meaningful engagement to make things better … and to understand that it may take a ‘walk on the wild side’ to do it,” she continued, quoting Reed’s 1972 solo breakout hit.

It is a little known fact that Reed majored in English at SU, and less known still that he graduated with honors in 1964….

College presidents saluting hard-edge underground rock stars. Now that’s my kind of party.