Clarence, NY—In 2010, as his parents were divorcing, Frankie Ferraro went on an overnight trip with his overcompensating dad to the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. Though Ferraro was only eleven years old at the time, music had been a thing with him and his musician dad, Flynn Ferraro, for as long as he could remember. The music his dad was serving up wasn’t the pop confections of Katy Perry or Taylor Swift, it was the heavyweights—Duke, Coltrane, Dylan, Strummer, Westerberg, Sleater-Kinney and of course, Lou Reed—co-founder and principal songwriter of the Velvet Underground and one of the most influential artists of the 20th century.
After a long day of viewing rock memorabilia and seeing a fat guy in a Night Ranger t-shirt shake his head at the Lady Gaga exhibit and say, ‘Lady Gaga, gimme a break,’ they made one last stop in the gift shop. His dad bought a Gram Parsons biography for himself and for Frankie he got a Ramones t-shirt plus the “Velvet Underground & Nico” album and the haunting Lou Reed postcard.
Thirteen years later at the age of twenty-four Frankie, or as he calls himself Fender Bender Ferraro, is a musician in his own right and that postcard, which is pinned to a cork board three feet from where he works stuff out on his guitar makes him feel incredible anxiety and judgment from Reed.
In a distressed state Ferraro points to the postcard, “Look at him, in that leather and those aviators, holding that guitar with the little cubes in the corner that say ‘I’m Cold.’ I’ll never be that cool. Sure I can play a little and I’m trying to put together a look, but compared to Lou Reed I’m a joke. Behind those shades I know he knows I was a little douchebag that got endless participation trophies in soccer and was James B. Madison Middle School’s Hall Monitor of the Year 2012—and it totally disgusts him. I mean, this is the guy who wrote “Sweet Jane” and “Street Hassle”.” That monosyllabic name Lou Reed might as well be Rock God. I suck so hard next to him.
Asked why he doesn’t just put the postcard in a drawer and remove the problem Ferraro becomes indignant. “Everybody—my parents, friends, bandmates and my therapist, Feelgood Felicia—says that’s what I should do, but then I would be a quitter like that tosser from Oasis, Noel Gallagher. On top of that, I grew up in this suburban wonderland called Clarence, NY where I had an endless supply of fruit roll ups and pizza logs and pitted my guilty parents against each other to the tune of double vacations, birthday gifts and Christmases. I got anything I wanted. Lou Reed’s parents on the other hand put him through electroshock therapy to crush his homosexual urges. No, I need the negative energy of the postcard to grow. I need to suffer for my art.
Ferraro also mentioned that Reed came into contact with some of the coolest people in his formative years. People like Delmore Schwartz and Andy Warhol whereas the most radical person he knows is Josh from Spalding Lake. Josh lives in his parents basement and has these off the hook three day Dungeons and Dragons raves when his parents go to their lodge in the Poconos for the weekend. Ferraro’s sure at some point a real monster is going to be hired and a real person will be sacrificed.
Coupled with time, effort and the anxiety and judgment from the Lou Reed postcard Ferraro thinks he’ll be able move beyond current his situation of playing lead in a Journey cover band—The Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin’ Experience and become an artist that would make the man in the leather and aviators proud or at least not spit on him.