1989 found Lou Reed at his most politically engaged. Boy, was Lou pissed! The entire New York album swings from rage to depression over the state of the world. Everything from the devastation of the AIDS epidemic to the devastation of urban poverty, the devastation of the environment, and worst of all, the uselessness and corruption of the political process. Listening closely to New York it’s hard not to get the impression that everyone and everything is hopelessly fucked, the world is a mess, a disaster, people are dying, the world is dying and there’s nothing to be done about it. On this track, Reed aims his pen at Kurt Waldheim, at the time the president of Austria and a former member of the Nazi party. Also mentioned is Jesse Jackson, an inflammatory figure in the 80′s who ran for president on a diversity/tolerance platform despite having in the past supported the distinctly racist and radical Nation of Islam. And of, course, the Pope, who can do no right. Reed was all riled up about the hypocrisy of politics, and it seemed like a hopeless situation indeed. But, comfortingly or not, all of those formerly hateful figures have passed from relevance. Jesse Jackson doesn’t wield nearly the influence he used to, John Paul II has died and been replaced with – guess what! – a former member of the Nazi party, and no one cares who the president of Austria might happen to be. Lou Reed hasn’t been so outspoken since then. After New York he settled back into writing in a more personal style, still sensitive to social issues, but no longer dropping names. I wonder how he feels about our current, seemingly hopeless, morass. If he were to write a second New York, who and what would he rage at? Or would raging at the fools in power today be too easy, redundant in the age of internet commentary? Does anybody need an outspoken, angry record album the way we needed New York in 1989?