Obsessed with punk in my early teens, the Velvet Underground's music was gradually administered through something like osmosis. I harbored an ignorant delusion that '60s rock was all gushing hippie idealism, but the tributes from so many punk-era heroes and older friends of mine made the Velvet Underground feel like a group to be revered. When I dove in -- deluxe CD editions of the first four albums in one shopping spree to start -- I found that reverence was too simple. The Velvet Underground & Nico shattered my assumptions about the 60s, White Light/White Heat awoke a love of noise that flung me down a rabbit-hole of NYC avant-garde, and the eponymous third album drew me into Lou Reed's lyrics. The scuzzy romantic befuddled by indulgence, he rendered beauty inseparable from the human stain.