Minneapolis Nov. 1985
U.S. folkie finds his lucky star south, east of border
By Laurie Fink
Two years ago as he sang protest songs of freedom in Pinochet's Chile, he waited for the bullet that would kill him.
The student crowd chanted in Spanish with their American hero, "The people united, shall never be defeated." Armed guardsmen surrounded his house the next day, and he was expelled from Chile.
At a small screening for the press this week, Reed said, "I'm very happy to be back. Last time I was here I stayed longer than I expected."
Members of the press laughed, knowing he was referring to his arrest and 11-day incarceration after he spontanously joined a powerline protest in Buffalo.
Reed's habit of jumping in whenever he sees injustice has earned him both friends and foes. People in the United States have called Reed a Marxist, a communist, a socialist and a traitor. His own father could never come to terms with his son's politics. But in the Soviet Union, where he tours frequently, fans mob him for autographs and Soviet women swoon.
Reed said he rejects being categorized. "I accept no labels, I am a puppet of nobody."
He says by fighting for freedom for 25 years, he is being the best American he can be.
"We were proud of the revolutionaries 200 years ago. We didn't want to be a colony of England. In the same way, Nicaragua doesn't want to be a colony of the United States. Americans should understand that."
His is the American success story turned on his head: The small town kid from a chicken farm in Colorado who grew up and made it - in Russia and East Germany.
After studying meteorology for two years, he packed his Chevy Impala and headed for Hollywood, guitar in hand.
His records on the Capitol label sold modestly, but his big hit came when he toured South America. It was then that his politics also radically changed.
The fresh boy from Colorado was shocked by the disparity between the rich and the starving.
"South America changes a human's life much more than Minneapolis or Denver or Moscow - it's so black-and-white."
Reed, a lean, cowboyish Hollywood prototype, groped for English words, rejecting the Spanish and German translations floating in his mind. He said he has been arrested in six countries, and continues to travel the world fighting for socialist change.
The film, showing Thursday night at 7 p.m. in Willey Hall, is a benefit for the Honeywell Project. Marv Davidov of the Honeywall Project met Reed during draft resistance protests in 1966 and organized the event. "I thought it was astonishing that someone who looks like this would have politics," he said.